Deodorant and antiperspirant change the community of our smallest organisms
The benefits of deodorants and antiperspirants are unmistakable. Such products reliably suppress unpleasant body odor. So we don't have to endure the stinking fumes of other people all day. However, such funds also have disadvantages, researchers recently found in a study.
There are countless deodorant products that help us suppress our body odor. However, this freshness could also have disadvantages. Deodorant affects our microbiome, the community of our tiny organisms made up of bacteria, viruses and fungi. The more we use antiperspirants, the more we change the microbial community that lives under our arms. This eliminates bad-smelling bacteria, but we also make room for new bacteria. The scientists from North Carolina Central University published the results of their current study in the journal Peerj.
Deodorant causes many positive Corynebacteria to die
Deodorant helps us smell better, but it damages the community of organisms that live under our arms. We all have microbes on our skin, most of them are potentially positive or at least benign, says co-author Julie Horvath. These microbes do nothing except maybe create a protective barrier on the skin, the doctor adds. The benevolent bacteria are also called Corynebacteria and are usually responsible for body odor. When we use deodorant, we eliminate unpleasant body odors by preventing our glands from producing sweat. This kills many of the bacteria. Horvath and her colleagues wanted to find out how armpit bacteria are changed by such products. The scientists also wanted to determine how the bacteria population recovers when the use of deodorant is discontinued.
Small study examines the concentration of bacteria on our skin
For their small study, the research team examined seventeen men and women who either used deodorant, antiperspirant, or neither of them regularly for eight days. On the first day of the study, researchers took samples from participants to gain information about their typical microbial community. They then instructed participants not to use deodorant products for the next five days. The scientists wanted to determine which types of microbes regrow. On the eighth day, participants were instructed to use antiperspirants, after which the researchers took a final sample.
People who did not use deodorant products tended to have a larger population of Corynebacteria bacteria and fewer Staphylococcaceae bacteria. Ten percent of the bacterial samples taken were unidentifiable species. Deodorant users had a higher number of armpit bacteria on the first day and more Staphylococcaceae tended to be found during the week than in the other two groups. Only five percent of the bacteria could not be identified by the researchers. People who regularly use antiperspirants had almost as much Staphylococcaceae bacteria as the deodorant group and more than 20 percent of their microbes were unidentifiable.
Hygiene habits affect microbial communities
It is difficult to assess whether sweat products are harmful or beneficial to our microbial activity, says Horvath. The exam was too small for that, the doctor adds. The unidentifiable species that tend to regrow in people who use antiperspirants are probably harmless. Most species of Staphylococcaceae are also harmless, although some can be harmful, the researcher explains. The scientists found that the microbes grew again fastest among users of deodorant and antiperspirant. Our hygiene habits affect our microbe communities. Wearing a deodorant product affects the microbes under our arm, but the short and long-term consequences are still unclear, explains the doctor. More research on this topic is needed. (As)