A group of researchers found that antiperspirant and deodorant not only keep you odor-free at the end of the day, but deodorant can dramatically change armpit bacteria, as well.
After sampling and analyzing the underarm sweat of 17 volunteers, scientists learned that deodorants can alter the fragile ecosystem of microorganisms happily dwelling beneath our pits. The team also found that on the short term microbial populations differ quite a lot in people that use deodorants and those who don’t.
Julie Horvath, lead author of the study, said that studying people’s armpits, also known as axilla, was an exciting thing to do because the area is protected from elements and bacteria can thrive freely.
Study participants were divided in three groups. One group used antiperspirant, the second group used deodorant while the third group used nothing for eight consecutive days.
Twice a day, scientists took samples of underarm bacteria and analyze it. In the meantime, they asked group one and two to not use any of the products on day 2 and 6, while on day 7 and 8 both groups were asked to employ antiperspirant.
From DNA tests, researchers found that microbial populations in people that ceased to use any of the products on day 2 increased every day they went by without antiperspirant or deodorant. After four days, the amount of underarm bacteria in these people was similar to the amount of bacteria in the control group. But when all participants were asked to use antiperspirant, microorganisms vanished.
The study also revealed that deodorants do not alter pit bacteria by very much. In reality, deodorants only try to mask the stench (some of them more successfully than others), while antiperspirants completely prevent sweat glands from producing sweat thus forcing microbes to starve to death.
By day 8, the pits of those who stayed away from deodorants were populated with 62 percent Corynebacteria and 21 percent of Staphylococcaceae microbes. Corynebacteria are in fact responsible for the bad smell, but they are otherwise harmless. Scientists explained that these bacteria feast on sweat, but in the process they also release a smelly gas that makes up the stench.
On the other hand, participants who used antiperspirant and ditched the product on day 2 had 60 percent Staphylococcaceae and 15 percent Corynebacteria, while in deodorant the ratio was 62 percent to 29 percent.
Scientists currently plan to find out more about how our daily antiperspirant or deodorant use influences antibiotic resistance and disease. But in the meantime, they will also conduct a study on earwax bacteria.
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