Sweat and body odour are making their pungent presence known as the days become warmer, and your work may suffer as a result. Companies in the service industry, where the elimination of body odours is extremely important, are now holding seminars for employees aimed at eradicating annoying smells.
Although plenty of deodorants and similar products are available, experts say the best way to keep odours at bay is to stay in good health. And from a psychological perspective, it is also advisable to keep your stress levels under control.
In late April, Tokyo-based taxi and limousine company Kokusai Motorcars Co. held a seminar on minimizing body odour for about 40 of its drivers.
"I worry whether my body odour bothers passengers," said a 44-year-old driver who participated in the seminar.
Ayumi Kyuka, a certified olfactory specialist and researcher for Mandom Corp., an Osaka-based company that produces cosmetic products for men, was a lecturer at the seminar.
According to Kyuka, the characteristics and causes of body odour differ depending on age. Younger generations are more likely to have a normal sweaty odour caused by perspiration and natural oils in the skin, while people aged 50 or older often have odours emanating from the back and chest, she said.
Men in their 30s and 40s have a specific kind of smell that comes from the back of the head, making it hard for them to notice it themselves, Kyuka said.
To reduce body odour, she recommends regular exercise, a diet heavy in vegetables, and other good daily habits. Poor blood circulation due to lack of exercise or other reasons produces perspiration with a strong odour. Wiping sweat off the face frequently and washing hair in a wash-rinse-repeat cycle are also effective, she advises.
At this time of year, pharmacies promote an increasingly large range of products, including sprays, special sheets to wipe away sweat, and deodorizing shampoos, to combat perspiration and odour.
The number of people worried about perspiration and body odour is on the rise, and since temperatures started to rise in late April this year, sales have been strong, according to the employee in charge of such products at Tomod's Coredo store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.
"The number of products available have increased. Among them, stick and cream type antiperspirants that are applied directly to armpits are popular recently with both men and women customers," he said.
Tsuneaki Gomi, director of the Gomi Clinic in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, is an expert in body odour and sweat.
"Antiperspirants can be thought of as helping people regain confidence in themselves, and people should use one that suits their constitution," said Gomi. "Products that can be rubbed into skin are particularly effective to reduce pungent odours."
However, worrying too much about body odour is also a problem. Nowadays toilets don't smell as bad as they used to and people don't make nukazuke, or strong smelling pickles, at home. You could say we have become an odorless society.
Gomi reminds us that as long as humans exist, so will our odours.
While an increasing number of people anxious about their body odour visit the clinic for consultation, 70 per cent of them do not actually have a problem, Gomi said. Rather, they become so worried that they become depressed or afraid to interact with others.
He suggests people should live healthy lives both physically and mentally. "By living a less stressful life is one way to deal with the problem," he said.