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Don't make a big stink

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Doctors for USA WEEKEND

Sometimes you smell not-so-fresh, other times — like after a particularly tough workout or super-stressful meeting — you stink. It’s a fact of life we may not like, but we’re all too familiar with. Here’s another fact (this one may surprise you): Sweat doesn’t actually smell. Most sweat glands secrete a water-salt mixture. But the glands in your underarms, groin and scalp are linked to hair follicles and release a little oil, too. When bacteria on your skin feasts on this fatty sweat, it’s the byproducts that cause odor.

Here are a few simple ways to help stinky spots smell good:

Roll-on before bed. Antiperspirants temporarily block sweat pores, which reduces the amount of perspiration on your skin. People tend to sweat less at night, so using antiperspirant before you hit the sack allows more of the aluminum-based active ingredient to be pulled into pores, and block the sweat even better. Deodorant does nothing for perspiration, but it helps eliminate odors. It’s usually alcohol-based, which makes skin less appealing to bacteria. Prescription antiperspirants are available, if needed. Note: You may have heard ingredients in these products could raise breast cancer risk, but experts say there’s no conclusive evidence of that.

Soak toes in tea. Black tea contains tannic acid, which kills bacteria and closes sweat pores. Just boil two teabags for 15 minutes, add two quarts of cold water to cool it off, and soak your toes for 30 minutes a day for a week. More tips: Wash feet daily with antibacterial soap and dry well; sprinkle cornstarch or antifungal powder on your feet and baking soda in your shoes; and wear moisture-wicking socks.  

Brush your tongue. Its uneven surface is the perfect host to trap odor-causing bacteria. So when you brush your teeth (twice a day and after meals, if possible), give your tongue a good scrubbing. If it’s coated with an overgrowth of bacteria (from smoking or dry mouth, for example), consider using a tongue scraper. Also: floss once a day (to remove odor-causing food particles and plaque); drink lots of water or chew sugarless gum; and schedule regular dental checkups.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.

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