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Sweating and Body Odor, and How to Control Them

All people sweat, and this is completely normal. Sweating is a natural process of the body but sometimes it can be abundant and accompanied by an unpleasant odor. At these moments, a person might feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.

With 5-Minute Crafts, you’ll learn what sweating and body odor depend on, and whether it’s possible to control them.

What is sweat?

Sweat is a clear, salty liquid produced by our glands that cools the body. When your body temperature rises, the nervous system automatically triggers your sweat glands. Armpits, feet, and palms sweat most often.

Sweat itself doesn’t smell. But when it rises to the surface of the skin and mixes with bacteria, an odor can appear. But it’s not the bacteria that smell. They break down certain sweat proteins into acids, and the odor is a by-product of this process. Your body odor also depends on the type of sweat gland you have:

  • eccrine glands
  • apocrine glands

Eccrine glands

Eccrine glands are coiled glands found all over the body, in the lower layer of the skin.

Eccrine glands secrete sweat through ducts to the surface of the skin. Sweat then evaporates, cooling the skin and thus regulating our body temperature. Sweat produced by eccrine glands consists mainly of salts and other electrolytes. It is free of fats and other compounds that can produce odor when broken down by bacteria.

Apocrine glands

Body odor is most often caused by sweat produced by apocrine glands. It is high in fats and other compounds that smell when broken down by bacteria.

Apocrine glands are not responsible for cooling the body like eccrine glands. These glands empty into a hair follicle instead of a duct.

Apocrine glands secrete sweat when the body temperature rises or when you’re under stress. They are found in certain areas:

  • in the armpits
  • in the groin
  • around the navel
  • in the chest area

This is why body odor mostly appears in the armpits and groin, and not on the forehead. Apocrine glands remain inactive until puberty. During puberty, they begin to produce sweat. Therefore, small children don’t have body odor even when they sweat.

There can be several reasons why an adult might have pungent body odor: certain diseases, hormonal changes, medication, supplements, or food.

As a rule, men have more body hair and, accordingly, apocrine glands. Therefore, they have more problems with body odor.

Diseases affecting body odor

Several medical conditions can change a person’s usual bodily scent:

A change in body scent can signal diabetes-related ketoacidosis. High levels of ketones cause the blood to become acidic and body to smell fruity. With liver or kidney disease, the body may smell like bleach. This is due to the accumulation of toxins in the body.

Hormones and body odor

Changes in hormones can cause your body odor to smell.

  • Hormonal fluctuations during menopause, for example, often contribute to excessive sweating which can make a woman smell different than usual.
  • Body odor also changes during ovulation. This happens to attract a partner.

Foods that cause unpleasant body odor

Foods we eat can affect the scent of our body. For example, some of them can cause unpleasant body odor. These include:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • red meat
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • caffeine
  • spices like curry or cumin
  • hot sauce or other spicy food

Eliminating or eating less of these foods may help improve your body odor.

How to control body odor

By adhering to the following recommendations, you can reduce unpleasant body odor.

  • Maintain your personal hygiene.
  • Keep your armpits shaved.
  • Don’t wear dirty clothes.
  • Opt for loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear.
  • Use a topical antiperspirant which pulls sweat back into your sweat glands. These include over-the-counter and prescription antiperspirants.
  • Eliminate foods that cause body odor from your diet.
  • Try to reduce your stress levels.

How to get rid of body odor at home

  • Baking soda. Make a paste by mixing water and baking soda. Apply it to your armpits and let it dry. Baking soda balances the acid on your skin and reduces odor.
  • Green tea. Soak green tea bags in warm water. Apply them to your armpits for a few minutes every day. Green tea can help block pores and reduce sweating.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Mix apple cider vinegar with a little water. Pour the resulting liquid into a spray bottle and spray it onto the armpits. The acid in the vinegar will help kill bacteria.
  • Lemon juice. Mix lemon juice and water, and then pour this liquid into a spray bottle and spray it onto the armpits. Citric acid also kills bacteria.

Important! Please make sure you are not allergic to these products before use.

5-Minute Crafts/Health/Sweating and Body Odor, and How to Control Them
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