Sweating plays an essential role in maintaining your body's homeostasis, or balance. Sweating helps keep your body temperature at around a healthy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, sweat is also linked to body odor. This is because sweat from your aporcrine glands contains fat, which the natural bacteria on your body consume, producing odor as a byproduct. Deodorant is one of the most common ways you can deal with body odor. However, some men can have an allergic reaction to the ingredients in deodorant.
How Deodorant Works
Deodorants work in two main ways. They contain ingredients which make the skin more acidic in your armpit. The acidity creates an unfriendly environment to the bacteria responsible for creating body odor. Deodorants also use perfumes and fragrances to mask the scent of body odor with a stronger and more pleasant scent.
Causes of an Allergy
Your skin can react to either the alcohol used to make the skin more acidic or the perfumes or fragrances used in the deodorant. If you are using an antiperspirant, your body might also react to the active ingredients which block the sweat glands, such as the aluminum-based aluminum chloride or aluminum zirconium tricholorohydrex glycine. If you are allergic to one or more of these ingredients, your body reacts to the deodorant as it would a harmful intruder to the body. This means the body activates your immune system to produce substances to fight off the allergen, resulting in varying levels of symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
There are several signs and symptoms you can watch for when it comes to a deodorant allergy. First is any unexplained change in your underarm or any other area of skin that has come into contact with the deodorant. This may include red, irritated skin, itching, swelling or the development of a rash on the skin, such as with contact dermatitis. More severe signs of an allergy to your deodorant include severe swelling, swelling of the tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, racing heart rate, abdominal pain, diarrhea, wheezing or dizziness, which can all be warning signs of potentially deadly anaphylaxis.
If you have a mild allergic reaction to your deodorant, first try switching brands. You may just be allergic to a specific individual ingredient or fragrance only found in that particular deodorant product. If you still have a reaction, consider alternatives to traditional deodorants such as crystal deodorants, hypoallergenic deodorants, fragrance-free deodorants or deodorants made from all-natural products. Bathing more regularly, wearing clothes that breathe better to prevent sweating and changing your diet to remove foods that can lead to more odorous sweat -- such as garlic and onions -- may also help you control body odor without using deodorants that cause you to have an allergic reaction.
Chris Sherwood is a professional journalist who after years in the health administration field and writing health and wellness articles turned towards organic sustainable gardening and food education. He now owns and operates an organic-method small farm focusing his research and writing on both organic gardening methods and hydroponics.