Adding zinc oxide to deodorants may be effective in reducing body odor because it kills bacteria and heals wounds, a new study presented in Amsterdam has revealed.

The stench of body odor in the axilla or under the armpit is mostly caused by enzymes called Corynebacterium spp and Staphylococcus spp., scientists said.

Now, in the new report, researchers were able to prove the extensive antimicrobial effects of zinc oxide, which would be helpful in reducing body odor.

Professor Magnus Agren, one of the authors of the report, said the participants of the study were excited over the effects of the zinc oxide product they created.

"The most frequent response we had from participants was: 'where can I buy this fantastic product?'" said Agren.

Testing Zinc Oxide Formulation On Volunteers

The new study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Its primary aim was to find out whether the application of zinc oxide in a formulation that consists of oil and water emulsion could reduce underarm odor among healthy volunteers.

Agren and his colleagues examined 30 healthy volunteers, with 15 male and 15 female volunteers. The average age is 25.6 years old.

The researchers then randomized the selection of armpits per volunteer. Whether the left or right armpit would receive the zinc oxide formulation or placebo was randomly chosen. The volunteers were treated for 13 consecutive days with five visits to the hospital.

The participants were enrolled, swabbed, and started treatment on day minus 8. On day 0, bacterial swabs were taken again and wounds were inflicted. The volunteers were seen on days 3, 4, and 5.

During the last visit on day 5, participants were asked if they had observed a difference in the odor from their left and right armpits, and which armpit smelled better than the other.

Zinc Oxide Kills Bacteria, Reduces Body Odor, Heals Wounds

In the end, researchers found that the formulation with zinc oxide reduced self-perceived body odor compared with placebo.

In fact, the zinc oxide treatment reduced the bacterial growth of both Corynebacterium spp. and S. hominis, despite the increase of the alkalinity or acidity of the skin surface. Apparently, the zinc oxide prevented the bacterial generation of short-chain fatty acids with a bad odor.

The zinc oxide treatment reduced the occurrence of corynebacteria and bad odor from open surgical wounds. The zinc oxide treatment reduced the redness or the peri-wound erythema around the lancet-induced wounds. It also promoted the formation of keratin.

Zinc Oxide Deodorants In The Future

Agren explained that although the zinc oxide treatment did not contain any fragrance like conventional deodorants, the participants were able to identify that it can neutralize body odor.

Will there be deodorants with zinc oxide in the future?

"The product has since been progressed to commercialisation by Colgate-Palmolive, who produced the product and sponsored this trial," said Agren.

What Causes Body Odor?

A study in 2015 revealed that body odor is a unique group of enzymes in the Staphylococcus hominis and two other Staphylococcus species.

Researchers studied the ability of more than 150 isolated bacteria to produce body odor and found that the genes were abundant and significant in body odor. Such studies can help experts pinpoint the cause of body odor and combat it specifically.

Ben Crowe | Flickr

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