Dear dr. Armpit, in our youth we lived on a farm with our grandparents. The farm is still there, situated between dikes and ditches. There used to be "stoepjes"' in the river and in a ditch near the house; ( I am at loss for the English equivalent). This stoepje near the water was designed for washing. So, when our grandfather went to town, he would kneel on the "stoepje" and open the buttons of his shirt ( "boezeroen"); then would wash his hands in the water of this ditch, and splash his face with water that he scooped from the ditch with both 'washed' hands. There was no soap involved. This same ditch got its water from the river Rhine, flowing down from the Alps, passing through several countries, over a hundreds of miles, traversing Germany, entering the Netherlands and flowing another few hundred miles to the coast where we live nearby. There was a kitchen with flowing tapwater,but only cold. We used to wash our hands there about once a day, before eating. As our father was a farmer he washed his hands before each meal. Bathing, using soap and water, was a Saturday chore. First the water had to be heated, so it was quite a project and no real bath was involved. This was considered a great luxury. We only used a bucket halfway filled with cold water, and adding hot water from a small kettle. Then using a washcloth and soap, we would stand naked and shivering, working fast to be covered again. I do not remember any smelly armpits, except in the summertime when my father was working very hard to get the hay in the barn in time ( before it would rain again).
Dear Addy, thank you for sharing this. Before baths or pools were invented, everybody washed them similarly, I guess. I also come from a farmers family and recognize this story. Washing is still a Saturday thing at my parents place. To explain this in a scientific way: washing once per week (or less) implies a strong microbiome. This 'fights off' malodorous bacteria. In malodorous axillae, we noticed a disruption of the microbiome, with a higher diversity of bacteria and a high diversity of malodorous bacteria. This disruption can be caused by overusage of underarm cosmetics and too hygienic measures. Best, Chris
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