Why do armpits stink

It is a common phenomenon that armpits smell, but the strength of the odor, as well as the type may vary from person to person. Although it is a common occurrence, it is almost always a matter of discomfort for both the person concerned as well as the people around him/her.

The first thing to consider is the reason as to why it’s especially the armpits that smell so badly, when compared to most other parts of the body. The reason lies in the fact that armpits are areas on the outer surface of the body which stay closed for most of the time due to the very structure of the human body itself. As the armpits stay closed most of the time, they naturally do not come in contact with outside air. The lack of air-contact makes the armpits hot over time, and thus perspiration occurs as an inevitable reaction to heat. While performing strenuous physical activities, the smell from the armpits is found to be even worse and stronger than usual; it is because people perspire more when they take part in physical activities. The sweat which is found near the groin, armpits and other enclosed areas on our body is known as apocrine sweat, dissimilar to eccrine sweat which is perspired only when the body temperature needs to be taken down.

Although sweating is the principle reason as to why armpits smell, one should be aware that sweat in its pure form is odorless and should not have been bothersome, if it was only that. Unfortunately, the sweat and the heat create the perfect environment for bacteria to breed. What the bacteria in the armpits do is, they ‘eat’ the sweat and break it down (3-methyl 2-hexenoic acid). The broken down compounds can also be referred to as bacterial excreta and it is actually this excreta that makes the armpits smell. The more one perspires, the more the bacterium induces reactions in the sweat and thus the smell intensifies.

There are a few factors however, which can play a determining role in how bad a person’s armpits would smell once he/she starts to get sweaty.

1. Diet -– Ingredients such as garlic have such a strong smell that one might smell them not only when one burps or farts, but also when one sweats. The combination of sweat, bacterial excreta and garlic residues would of course be responsible for an even bawdier smell in the armpits. Eating a balanced meal is not only necessary for keeping one fit, but it might also work towards keeping you fresher, because lack of zinc or imbalance in the total sugar and caffeine content in the system can give way to smelly armpits.

2. Diseases -– It has been found that certain types of body odors are often indicative of diseases such as diabetes or liver problems. If one’s armpits give out a smell which is peculiarly similar to nail polish, then it can be treated as a sign of diabetes, while the more common ammonia smell could be associated with liver issues. Sometimes, skin bacteria start to overgrow and that can also lead to a sudden increase of bodily smells, especially from the armpits and the groin.

why do armpits smell

3. Cleanliness or hygiene -– Finally, the most important factor which plays a big role behind body odors is hygiene. Simply put, someone who takes regular baths, keeps his/her clothes clean and practices an overall hygienic lifestyle, will in most cases, not smell badly from the armpits. On the other hand, someone who is not that hygienic will surely stink from the armpits a lot more than the usual.

As sweating is the principle cause which leads to the vulgar stink, various factors (even after excluding traditional physical exertion) that cause sweating in the first place, plays a key role. Examples include stress and hyperhidrosis (a condition which makes people sweat more than normal). It has been proven that stress-control is often related to lessening of the bodily odors.

How to Counter Body Odor

Although women are not excluded, it is a fact that armpit odor is mainly a man’s problem. In fact, even children do not smell as bad as men because apocrine sweat is only excreted by the sweat pores once a human being reaches maturity.

The most effective form of prevention when it comes to body odor is the application of boric powder in the armpits. The antibacterial nature of boric powder stops bacteria from spreading and feeding, thus body odor is lessened.

Application of body-sprays, deodorants and perfumes may help one to mask the odd smell. Antiperspirants on the other hand, block the sweat pores which stops sweating from ever occurring, leaving no reason for bacterial formation. Some of the deodorants might also contain zinc or aluminum, both of which are helpful in lessening armpit smell.

Surgical removal of the sweat glands from armpits or subjecting them to electric shocks in order to temporarily close them are extreme treatments that are prescribed to people who stink very badly and have a hard time handling that smell.