All about Armpit Bacteria and Using Prebiotics for Underarm Odor

By Sher Warkentin in Natural Products

Armpit bacteria can lead to unpleasant and embarrassing odor, but there are many ways you can combat it. While many deodorant products exist that are designed to minimize these bacteria, you might also consider prebiotics as an alternative way to help maintain your skin's natural balance of microorganisms.

Why Bacteria Cause Armpit Odor

It might seem unpleasant to think about, but there are multitudes of bacteria living in your armpits. Contrary to popular opinion, it's not sweat that makes your armpits give off an odor—it's the bacteria living there. As a study published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology explains, the microbial biotransformation of natural secretions in your armpit plays a role in the formation of odor.

Since the hair follicles and sweat glands within the armpit provide a warm and rich environment for bacteria, they thrive under your arms. This can lead to odor and present a challenge to minimize it. The type of bacteria present may affect how foul that odor ends up being. Specific armpit bacteria, like Corynebacteria, have shown to correspond with greater levels of body odor, according to the FEMS Microbiology Ecology study.

Woman raising arms outside

How Do Deodorants and Antiperspirants Help?

Deodorants are designed to minimize odor by making your underarms less attractive to bacteria while masking odor with fragrant scents, as the Mayo Clinic explains. Antiperspirants also help to control odor, but they do so by blocking the sweat pores to reduce the amount of moisture in your armpit.

These products also affect your armpit microbiome. A study published in Peer J found that there were more odor-causing underarm bacteria—including Corynebacterium—present in participants who did not use any deodorant or antiperspirant.

Prebiotics can help balance your natural microbiome.

Using Prebiotics for Underarm Odor

Another way to try controlling odor is by using prebiotics. You've likely heard of probiotics, which are live bacteria that can benefit your body's natural microbiome. Prebiotics also benefit your body by providing nutrients that foster the growth of good bacteria that are already part of your body.

Not all bacteria are bad for you. In fact, killing all bacteria may do more harm than good. Prebiotic ingredients like xylitol help support the good bacteria and crowd out the bad. If armpit odor is an issue for you, a prebiotic deodorant could help keep your skin in healthy balance by promoting the growth of good bacteria to help reduce odor.

Learn more about how naturally derived ingredients can enhance your personal care routine by following the Ingredients from Nature board from @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

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Why It's Good

We all want to achieve harmony with our bodies. Using prebiotics in an underarm product can help to balance your body's microbiome while minimizing unwanted odors.