Body Odor Sweat Glands Eccrine Apocrine Prevention
Last updated 11/10/2022
Those unsightly wet areas on your clothes can be downright embarrassing. Do you know what I mean? Certainly, an attention grabber. Body odor sweat glands.
The situation can get even worse as you get a whiff of yourself. This is a common occurrence, but others may be sensitive to the smell.
We’ve all experienced B.O. whether our own or someone else. At the gym working out, those doing physical labor or just in passing. In conclusion the smell is unmistakable.
This aroma may rob your self-esteem and affect your quality of life. Because no one wants to be told they smell or have jokes made about this. Furthermore, it’s a known fact everyone sweats.
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What is Body Odor?
Body odor (aka bromhidrosis) has become an umbrella term for your natural smells. The human body can create a variety of substances that carry a smell, called odorants. Most importantly, many are needed for your normal bodily function.
In small amounts these don’t lead to unpleasant odors. But in excess these compounds on your skin can be quite noticeable.
The populations have grown as people interact with more people. Presenting more situations where there is offence and sensitivity to other’s odors. In short, body odor has opened an industry.
What is Sweat?
Sweat also referred to as perspiration is a salty fluid that's released from your skin via two types of glands.
The eccrine glands are found on most of the body. Moreover, they are responsible for secreting this watery fluid usually triggered by excessive heat.
The apocrine sweat glands are only found in certain areas of the body. They produce a thick, yellowish liquid made of proteins and fatty acids. In addition, this combines with bacteria developing a familiar odor.
Where is Body Odor Found?
While including smelly armpits body odor is found in other areas too.
- Pubic and other hair
- Belly button
- Upper thighs
- Behind the ears
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Body Odor Sweat Gland Causes
As everyone reaches puberty sweat glands and hormones become active. This is when body odor is first noticed. Certainly, you didn’t have this problem when you were a kid.
Sweat alone doesn’t smell. It’s when sweat meets the bacteria that live on your skin body odor develops. Further, this bacterium thrives in moist areas.
Above all, this odor occurs due to the bacteria on your skin breaking down protein molecules in your sweat. As a result, that stink comes from this by-product.
Apocrine glands don’t become active until puberty. Then they begin to produce sweat and B.O. becomes an issue. As your body temps increase apocrine glands release sweat. Further these glands don’t assist in cooling you off.
Instead of a duct they empty into your hair follicles in your underarm and groin areas. This is a bulb-shaped cavity in your skin that sprouts hair.
To sum up, this protein rich sweat has an odorless beginning. But, as bacteria break down the many proteins, the result is odorant molecules in larger amounts, known as body odor (eeew).
Unlike eccrine glands, apocrine glands are found in certain areas:
- Pubic area
These coiled glands are present in your dermis skin layer. When the eccrine glands make sweat it is mostly salt and other electrolytes. In short, it doesn’t contain fats and other compounds that have an odor when bacteria break them down.
Sweat is sent directly to the skin surface through a duct by way of the eccrine glands. Through perspiring this helps cool your skin mainly regulating your body temperature. The liquid found here is not connected with body odor. To sum up, it’s not likely to smell.
Eccrine glands are found on all body areas.
Body Odor Risk Factors
Certain things can increase your chances of developing body odor.
Excess weight can mean having skin folds. Therefore, this creates an ideal home for sweat and bacteria causing body odor.
Some Medical Conditions
Certain medical issues can alter your normal scent.
These can be:
- Kidney problems
- Liver disease
If you, often eat spicy foods this can contribute to your body odor. By consuming spicy or pungent foods these scents can leak into your pores. Thus, entering into the eccrine glands and making you..well, smell afterwards.
When that cortisol increases your apocrine glands go into overtime. And these glands cause that smelly sweat (ugh).
Likewise, you can blame this on your genes too. Some of us are just prone to B.O. (what luck).
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that makes you sweat a lot. Menopause can also increase how much you sweat.
How to Prevent Body Odor
Having more apocrine glands in your armpit and groin areas makes them more prone to smelling. But you can experience B.O. almost anywhere on your body.
As body odor has no known universal treatment and it usually doesn’t connect to a serious problem. Some steps can help with controlling it.
Take a daily shower or bath. Use soap or shower gel to create a good lather. Further, pay close attention to those areas prone to odor.
You might want to shower more often depending on how active you are. Showering more would probably be beneficial if you are in a hot or humid climate. A washcloth can also be used on just your armpits, groin and skin folds. Most importantly, hit the shower right after you exercise or sweat if possible.
Make sure to completely dry yourself. Likewise, spritz with body spray or mist.
Your choice of soap may not be helping. Try an anti-bacterial soap or body wash such as Dial. I have also gotten MEGABABE Space Bar for underarms from BirchBox that really controls odors. In short, these can assist by reducing the number of bacteria on your skin.
Shave or Wax
Apocrine glands are located in areas covered by hair such as your armpits and the pubic area. Hair can slow down the process of sweat evaporating which gives bacteria ample time to mingle causing odorants. You don’t want to encourage this. So, removing hair can help control B.O. here.
Guys may not be comfortable with total removal, but have you considered cutting hair back in these areas? Trimming the hair short may make a world of difference with your body odor.
A special routine of just soaking your feet separately could help. Further make sure to completely dry them before getting dressed.
Having smelly feet can also cause smelly shoes. There are over-the-counter inserts for this purpose. And you can also add thick absorbent socks. For instance, natural fabrics can also assist with the evaporation of sweat and decrease bacteria.
A mixture of increased humidity and sweat can be trapped in fabric. Cotton is a natural fabric that can prevent body odor better than polyesters, nylon and rayon. So, since it is a natural fabric it breathes, and your sweat can evaporate.
These other materials trap sweat close to your skin. Thus, ideal environment for body odor. In addition, when you go to the gym or work out, wear moisture wicking fabrics.
Washing your clothes on a regular basis gives them that nice clean smell. The opposite of body odor. As a result, wearing clean clothing will relieve body odor.
Not that you have to change it drastically, but you might reduce certain foods when you’re not planning on being home.
These foods can make your sweat pungent.
- Spicy peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Also alcohol
So, you don’t lose the nutritional value of these foods, when showering isn’t possible, spritz. There are facial and body sprays you might pack along with you to refresh.
Deodorant or Antiperspirant
Antiperspirants reduce perspiration by blocking sweat glands. That is to say, it alters the amount and activity of the bacteria causing the odor. Above all, antiperspirants are chemical agents which decrease sweating.
A deodorant won’t stop sweating. Deodorants create an inhospitable underarm area for bacteria. They also provide a fragrance to mask B.O. If you have B.O. but not much with the sweating, deodorant is a good choice.
On the other hand, you sweat a lot choose a product with both a deodorant and antiperspirant. I have used Lady Speed Stick for many years. In addition, get the one that doesn’t leave white marks (less embarrassing).
Really, Really, Bad Body Odor?
Above all, if you feel you have a strong scent and products don’t seem to work you could require more help. Talk to your physician who could prescribe something stronger in a deodorant or antiperspirant.
Wrapping it up
Body odor is caused by your sweat and bacteria on your skin. Sweat by itself is actually odorless. Certain risk factors like overweight and of course stress can increase B.O.
Things to prevent you from smelling bad consist of daily showering, underarm products and body sprays. Most importantly, body odor doesn’t usually mean any serious concerns but if bothersome you could talk to your doctor.
Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.