It seems that deodorant affects your body’s bacteria, particularly the ones living in your armpit. So, all those everyday products a good majority of us use actually interfere with microbial life.
Researchers from North Carolina conducted a study by swapping the bacterial life from 17 participants’ armpits. Their aim was to test the potential effect of normal products and how they might influence the microbiome. According to co-author of the paper, Rob Dunn, a professor of applied ecology at the NC State claimed that this is because they have observed the bacteria under the armpits depends on the use of deodorants and antiperspirants.
Among the participants, 3 men and 4 women used antiperspirant, which reduces the amount of sweat. In addition, 3 men and 3 women used deodorant, which is used to kill off the unpleasant odor. This works through different chemicals, including ethanol, that essentially destroy the bacteria which eats at the sweat and produces the smell. The rest were used as a control as they used no product under their armpits.
The participants were tested over a period of 8 days in total, and swabbed in each day.
According to the researchers, they found that antiperspirant kills off more bacteria than deodorant. This is due to the fact that it blocks sweat glands instead of eliminating the bacteria after they form. The product was much more efficient at reducing the amount of bacteria under the participants’ armpits. However, the results varied.
Participants who did not use any sort of product presented 62% Corynebacteria, 21% Staphylococcaceae, along with a random assortment of less than 10% bacteria filed under ‘other’. Those who used deodorants had 29% Corynebacteria, 61% Staphylococcaceae, and 10% of other microbes. However, participants who used antiperspirant were found to have 14% Corynebacteria, 60% Staphylococcaceae, and 14% other types of microbes.
In spite of their findings though, researchers couldn’t reach the conclusion on whether it was good or bad. Certain studies have delved into the matter of deodorants increasing the risk for breast cancer, but no firm results could be brought out of this particular study. It could be beneficial, or it could be bad, as the products might be killing the so-called ‘good bacteria’.
However, according to co-author of the study, Julie Horvath, from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, using antiperspirant or deodorant completely changes the microbial ecosystem of your skin. And they have no idea if its beneficial or detrimental to our health.
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