Do You Really Need Underarm Deodorant?


Do your underarms smell?: image via nicolaiswallner.comDo your underarms smell?: image via nicolaiswallner.comThere's a genetic mutation that keeps certain persons from having smelly underarms and sticky ear wax. The question, to a group of scientists from the University of Bristol in Great Britain, was whether persons with no underarm odor used deodorant anyway.  The results of their study of 17,000 individuals are published in the advance online edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

After determining that the presence of the genetic mutation existed in two percent of the women studied, 78 percent of those women used deodorant anyway. Of the 22 percent who did not use deodorant, researchers concluded that they must be somehow aware that they do not produce an odor and, therefore, didn't need deodorant. 

Of the people who did have smelly underarms, 4.7 percent of women and 13 percent of men never used, or seldom used, deodorant anyway. They were clearly unmoved to cover their smells by the persistent advertising of the deodorant manufacturers.

A curious finding was that among Asian women, among whom only one percent had the no-smell mutation, only 7 percent of the population used deodorant anyway.  Smelly underarms not a cultural taboo, apparently.

Researchers raised an argument for personalized genetics that would influence an individual's choice of personal hygiene products.  In the meantime, they suggest that if you want to know if you have the un-smelly underarm gene mutation, check your ears for dry ear wax.


sources:  The Atlantic, Journal of Investigative Dermatology