It turns out your deodorant is doing a lot more than repressing bad smells.
A new study published in the journal PeerJ found that deodorant use “strikingly” alters the bacteria colonies that reside in your armpit. That might seem obvious, given that bacteria is what makes your armpits stink in the first place, but researchers are concerned that deodorants could be favouring certain kinds of microbes over others.
One of the kinds of bacteria that dominate the area in your armpits is called Staphylococcaceae. Species of this bacteria include “beneficial symbionts” (good bacteria) but also “dangerous pathogens” (bad bacteria).
“Our work clearly demonstrates that antiperspirant use strikingly alters armpit bacterial communities, making them more species rich,” researchers wrote. “Because antiperspirants only came into use within the last century, we presume that the species of bacteria they favor are not those historically common in the human armpit.”
Therein lies the problem. Now that we know deodorant is altering the microscopic communities that inhabit our skin, we still need to discover if the bacteria being favoured is positive or negative. Part of the reason for the concern is that skin bacteria “exerts significant influence on human health and disease…”.
The broader health consequences relating to the use of these products is still not well studied, and the paper says more research is expected in the future.
So, for the sake of everyone around you, please continue using your deodorant.
WATCH: If you did give up your deodorant, what would happen?