Why do armpits smell bad?

You lather on deodorant every morning before going to work or school, yet you still can’t seem to conceal that subtle but deadly body odor? Despite your intrepid efforts, your armpits still smell at some point in the day.

Well, there are 100,000,000,000,000 or one hundred trillion bacteria living on your body at any given moment. Few of them, just around one million bacteria per square centimeter, treat your armpits as their home.

Body odor happens when bacteria break down the proteins present in your sweat. The resulting product is the acid that produces the onion-like body odor.

You might be wondering as to the whole body sweats, but armpits smell worse than other parts of the body. Sweat from the armpits is higher in protein, due to the special sweat glands found in the area. With more protein for the bacteria to break down, the more acids your pits produce. The more acid created, the smellier armpit you will have.

There are actually two sweat glands found in the body: eccrine and apocrine. Both are vital in helping you cool down.

Eccrine glands cover the majority of your body and open directly on the surface of the skin. Meanwhile, apocrine glands are situated in parts that have a lot of hair follicles, such as the groin and armpit. Instead of directly opening up to the skin’s surface, they instead empty sweat into the hair follicle, which then protrudes to the surface of the skin.

Whenever the body heats up, sweat is released from the eccrine glands to cool up the body. The sweat is generally odorless, not until the bacteria break it down. However, certain drinks and food you ingested, or medications you took, may cause the sweat to smell.

Apocrine glands, on the other hand, works mainly under stress, releasing an odorless sweat. It then again starts to build up odor when it gets in contact with the bacteria situated in your armpit. However, these glands won’t start functioning until the puberty stage. This is the reason why most begin to experience body odor during the teenage years.

While sweating is normal, there are those individuals who sweat more than the others. They have a condition called hyperhidrosis and experience excessive sweating in their hands, feet, and pits, making them more prone to body odor.

There are lots of things you can do to prevent smelly armpits from developing initially. Showering daily with soap, and bathing after intense activities like playing sports or going to the gym, make sure that you keep bacteria away and avoid them from causing body odor.

Moreover, wear apparel made of breathable fabrics, such as linen or cotton, if you sweat a lot. See to it that they are also loose-fitting to keep your body stay cool. 

Applying antiperspirant and deodorant daily after a shower can help to combat smelly armpits. However, it is a process of trial and error, and you might need to try different brands to discover which one would work for you. Antiperspirant aids in decreasing the amount of sweat released by blocking the pores. The less sweat, the less protein for the bacteria to break. Thus, the less odor produced. On the other hand, deodorants help by preventing sweat from smelling. They are often based on alcohol, which inhibits bacteria that makes sweat smell.

If you have tried different brands of antiperspirant and deodorant, yet nothing works out, see a doctor to help you find any underlying medical condition and provide you with appropriate treatments.

More Readings:

Perspiration (Wikipedia)

Related Posts: