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Dear V – Can’t you smell that smell…coming from your own stinky body?

Dear V,

I have noticed recently that I smell really bad. I shower, and I am totally hygienic-I always shower at least once a day, and I always shower after I go running, but still, I seem to have really bad body odor. I didn’t notice this until I smelled something awful in my dorm room, and realized that the smell was coming from a shirt that I had worn the day before. Surprisingly enough, neither my roommates nor my friends have ever said anything about my B.O., but I am beginning to become really embarrassed about my smell, and now I always assume that I smell wherever I go. I have tried piling on all kinds of perfumes, but still I feel that I can smell my own body odor. I have heard about horror stories where problems like this ruin a person’s social life and career, and I don’t want this to happen to me!

Smelly

Dear Reader,

Human sweat is actually odorless, but excessive body odor is caused by both the bacteria that live in any kind of moist crevice on your body (i.e. the armpit) and the interaction between body chemicals and the natural body oils that you produce on a daily basis. Furthermore, if you tend to sweat a lot, you are only aiding in the growth of bacteria. If you are not using an antiperspirant, you probably should be as the aluminum component is added specifically to curb the amount of sweat that you produce, therefore aiding in the reduction of bacterial growth. A deodorant by itself is strictly intended to mask odor, not inhibit bacterial growth. Likewise, using an antibacterial wash in the shower will help you, as will shaving, thereby reducing the surface area available for bacteria to thrive. If these solutions don’t help, you may consider investing in an over-the-counter remedy (just ask the pharmacist), or consulting the advice of your physician. Drastic changes in body odor are usually indicative of your general health and can signal underlying problems. For example, hyperhidrosis is a fairly common condition that results in excessive body odor because the nerves controlling the sweat glands are overactive.

Understandably so, this can be an awfully embarrassing problem, especially considering that we live an extremely hot and humid climate that lends itself to excessive perspiration. Don’t psych yourself out though-not only does everybody sweat (if you didn’t, your body would overheat and you would die), but I’m sure that you don’t sweat anymore than most of your friends. Don’t let yourself become a self-fulfilling prophecy where you avoid social interaction because you are afraid of what people might think of your body odor as it might not really be as bad as you think it is. Realistically, if you smelled that terrible somebody would have hinted at it or you might be around to hear your friends emit some ill-timed laughs at your expense.

Best of luck!

V.

Fact O’ the Day.According to a survey taken from a random sample of men aged 25 to 33, 74 percent claim that they will try to postpone sex with someone with whom they want a serious relationship.

Please send probing inquiries to DearV@hotmail.com or drop V a line in her box in the office of The Hurricane. All questions and comments will remain anonymous.

V. is a senior majoring in psychology and creative writing.

April 7, 2006

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.