Body malodours and their topical treatment agents

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2011 Aug;33(4):298-311. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2011.00649.x. Epub 2011 Mar 15.


Body malodour, including foot odour, suppresses social interaction by diminishing self-confidence and accelerating damage to the wearer's clothes and shoes. Most treatment agents, including aluminium anti-perspirant salts, inhibit the growth of malodourous bacteria. These metallic salts also reduce sweat by blocking the excretory ducts of sweat glands, minimizing the water source that supports bacterial growth. However, there are some drawback effects that limit the use of aluminium anti-perspirant salts. In addition, over-the-counter anti-perspirant and deodourant products may not be sufficiently effective for heavy sweaters, and strong malodour producers. Body odour treatment agents are rarely mentioned in the literature compared with other cosmetic ingredients. This review briefly summarizes the relationship among sweat, skin bacteria, and body odour; describes how odourous acids, thiols, and steroids are formed; and discusses the active ingredients, including metallic salts and herbs, that are used to treat body odour. A new class of ingredients that function by regulating the release of malodourants will also be described. These ingredients do not alter the balance of the skin flora.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acids
  • Administration, Topical
  • Antiperspirants*
  • Cosmetics*
  • Humans
  • Odorants*
  • Steroids
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Sweat Glands / physiopathology


  • Acids
  • Antiperspirants
  • Cosmetics
  • Steroids
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds