Body odor can be embarrassing and hard to remove from clothes, shoes, and sports equipment. While it’s clear that sweating leads to odor, did you know sweat itself is nearly odor-free? The cause of that post-workout smell is a little more complex.
There are two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands can be found all over the body, while apocrine glands are clustered in areas dense with hair follicles, like the scalp, armpits, and groin. While eccrine glands open directly onto the surface of your skin, apocrine glands release sweat under the skin, in the hair follicle. The sweat produced by eccrine glands is primarily salt, water, and electrolytes, and is simply a response to overheating. In contrast, apocrine glands produce fatty sweat under stress.
When sweat reaches the surface of your skin, bacteria begins to break it down. The bacterial breakdown of apocrine sweat is the most common cause for what is known as body odor.
Physical and Emotional Triggers
Healthy people sweat in varying amounts. Sweating is a cooling mechanism that can be triggered by exercise, hot environments, and emotional responses to anxiety, stress, or nervousness. Hormones can also play a role in the frequency and amount of sweating; the nature of the body odor produced by an individual is affected by age, diet, gender, and a variety of other factors.
Certain medical conditions, such as an overactive thyroid or low blood sugar, can lead to excessive sweating. If you feel you sweat an excessive amount for no apparent reason or your sweating disrupts your daily life, you may want to visit a doctor.
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