Danish researchers have sniffed out a potential new weapon to fight armpit odor.
It's zinc oxide, or ZnO. The strategy was inspired by hospital wound care. Because putting zinc oxide on open surgical wounds reduces corynebacteria and the bad smell it creates, researchers thought it might also make an effective deodorant.
The study authors said their small, early trial with 30 healthy volunteers stopped stink cold. That's because zinc oxide kills the two types of bacteria that cause underarm odor -- Corynebacterium spp. and Staphylococcus spp.
"Even though it contained no fragrance like conventional deodorants, the participants could identify that it had neutralized any bad odor under the arm where it was applied," said lead researcher Dr. Magnus Agren, of the Copenhagen Wound Healing Center at Bispebjerg Hospital, in Denmark.
But don't breathe easy just yet: This fragrance-free deodorant isn't yet available, though Colgate-Palmolive, who makes it and paid for the trial, hopes to bring it to market.
The findings were scheduled for presentation Saturday at a meeting of the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
For the 13-day study, 30 men and women volunteered to try zinc oxide. They were randomly assigned to have zinc oxide in one armpit and a placebo in the other.
The researchers took samples of the study participants' underarm bacteria and caused small wounds in the area. Participants were asked if they detected a difference in scent between their left and right armpit and, if so, which smelled better.
Compared with placebo, levels of odor-causing bacteria were significantly lower with zinc oxide, the findings showed. It also reduced the redness caused by the wounds and promoted healing, the investigators noted in a meeting news release.
Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
To learn more about perspiration, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.