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Skin

18 April 2019

There is a new remedy for body odour on the horizon

This mineral kills the two types of bacteria that cause underarm odour – and stops stink cold.

Danish researchers have sniffed out a potential new weapon to fight armpit odour.

It's zinc oxide, or ZnO. The strategy was inspired by hospital wound care. Because putting zinc oxide on open surgical wounds reduces corynebacteria and the bad smell they create, researchers thought it might also make an effective deodorant.

Not yet available

The study authors said their small, early trial with 30 healthy volunteers stopped stink cold. That's because zinc oxide kills the two types of bacteria that cause underarm odour – Corynebacterium spp. and Staphylococcus spp.

"Even though it contained no fragrance like conventional deodorants, the participants could identify that it had neutralised any bad odour under the arm where it was applied," said lead researcher Dr Magnus Agren, of the Copenhagen Wound Healing Center at Bispebjerg Hospital, in Denmark.

But don't breathe easy just yet: This fragrance-free deodorant isn't yet available, though Colgate-Palmolive, who makes it and paid for the trial, hopes to bring it to market.

The findings were scheduled for presentation at a meeting of the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Promotes healing

For the 13-day study, 30 men and women volunteered to try zinc oxide. They were randomly assigned to have zinc oxide in one armpit and a placebo in the other.

The researchers took samples of the study participants' underarm bacteria and caused small wounds in the area. Participants were asked if they detected a difference in scent between their left and right armpit and, if so, which smelled better.

Compared with placebo, levels of odour-causing bacteria were significantly lower with zinc oxide, the findings showed. It also reduced the redness caused by the wounds and promoted healing, the investigators noted in a meeting news release.

Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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