Crazy facts about body odor and sweat

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sweat drops
Eccrine glands produce watery sweat all over our bodies.

After those long, cold winter days a few months ago, the summer warmth definitely feels great on our skin. Sure, we get a little sweaty, but that’s just the way our bodies keep cool. There are just some days, however, where the heat is a little too much to bear and our deodorant can’t contain the foul body odor we try to cover up! So, why exactly do we stink?

First of all, it’s important to know that we have two different types of glands (chemical releasing organs) that create sweat. Eccrine glands produce watery sweat all over your body, while apocrine glands are concentrated in areas that have dense amounts of hair, such as the armpits and scalp. Sweat from the apocrine glands tends to have a waxy feel due to special fats squeezed out along with the sweat.

One of the most surprising facts about sweat is that it doesn’t really have a scent at all. It’s true! Sweat is simply made up of water and various chemicals like salt and potassium that have no offensive smell at all. The stench we associate with body odor is actually caused by the bacteria living in our skin! These little critters make a meal of the fat in our sweat produced by the apocrine glands, which leads to the all too familiar funky smell. To make matters worse, the more hair there is, the more areas the bacteria have to live in.

Geez, doesn’t reading these facts make you want to take about ten showers? You’d better not! Why? Overcleansing can actually lead to more sweat production. Certain soaps and body washes can be harsh on our skin and over dry it if used too frequently. Our body tends to detect this lack of moisture and make up for it by producing excess sweat.

Who would have thought sweat could be so complicated?

Featured image courtesy of Vox Efx on Flickr. Image of sweaty arms courtesy of Minghong on Wikipedia.