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Could antiperspirant be making matters worse?

By Simon Pitman+

19-Aug-2014
Last updated on 19-Aug-2014 at 12:38 GMT

New research by a team of scientists in Belgium may suggest that using antiperspirant on a regular basis could actually contribute to underarm body odour.

The problem comes about due to the fact that antiperspirants could increase levels of odorous bacteria in the armpit, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers at Ghent University, to which the findings are published in the Archives of Dermatological Research.

The journal article underlines how the team of scientists set about highlighting the effect deodorants and antiperspirants has on axillary bacteria by testing it on a team of nine volunteers over the course of one month.

Small size of study group raises questions

Although experts have already pointed to the small size sample size of volunteers that participated in the study, the results of the experiment make interesting reading for experts working in the antiperspirant and deodorant category.

Eight of the nine volunteers were asked not to use any deodorant or antiperspirant products for the entire one month period, with regular assessment made throughout the period to record the how the armpit biome changed.

The scientists assessed the axillary bacteria community using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis to try and establish the microbial dynamics.

Diversity of bacteria increased, while abundance fell

Beyond discovering that the bacteria composition was unique in each individual, the scientists also discovered that in the eight subjects that did not use any deodorant, although the diversity of bacteria in the armpit increased, the abundance of bacteria decreased.

Perhaps most interesting in the findings was the fact that the shift in abundance of bacteria was most noticeable in the Actinobacteria, which is the type of bacteria most readily associated with body odor – essentially the strongest smelling bacteria.

The scientists say that, in light of the findings, they now want to take the research to the next level, which will probably involve enlarging the size of the study group.

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