Sweat and Body Odour: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Sweat and body odour

Sweat and Body odour

Sweat Glands

Table of Contents

Sweats are natural secretions from the sweat glands of our skin. Our Skins have accessory glands called sweat glands that help it carry out its functions. One of such functions is the regulation of temperature.

Types of Sweat Glands

There are two types of these sweat glands: Eccrine gland and Apocrine gland.

  • The Eccrine glands are present in the skin over most parts of the body. They are coiled and tubular with clear and odourless secretions.
  • The other, Apocrine gland, is also coiled and tubular but its secretions are viscous, cloudy and odorous. They are found in regions with more hairfollicles such as the armpit, genital region, groin and even on the feet and behind the ears.

Why do we Sweat?

Sweating is the body’s mechanism of temperature regulation. It occurs due to:
▶Physical activities
Hormonal secretions
▶Increased body metabolism
▶Emotions such as fear, anxiety, excitement etc
Sweats are secreted to allow for cooling of the body.


In areas where the Apocrine sweat glands are found (such as armpit), bacteria are present due to the warmness and dampness of these places. Hairs in these regions trap the sweat. These bacteria break sweat down into acids and this gives off an OFFENSIVE ODOUR.


Body odour is therefore, the offensive odour given off from these damp and warm areas of our bodies such as armpit, groin, feet and pubic region due to trapped sweats. It is embarrassing and easily noticed.

Unfortunately, one can have body odour without even noticing. However, it does not go unnoticed if people around him/her still have their olfactory senses intact. It is triggered during puberty, after exercise, fear and excitement. It is commonly noticed in:
Adolescent and adults (especially men)
▶Diabetic patients
▶Hyperhidrosis patients (a condition characterised by excessive sweating)
▶People who take spicy food such as garlic and curry.


▶Check areas such as armpit for offensive odour.
▶Check used clothings for offensive smell.
▶Ask someone
▶See a doctor

Prevention and Treatment

▶Keep hair in armpit and pubic region as low as possible.
▶Bath often, especially after physical activity.
▶Clean armpit and other regions with anti-bacterial soaps.
▶Use deodorant and antiperspirants containing Aluminium Chloride.
▶Wash clothings such as socks and undies as often as possible.
▶Air shoes often.

▶Take healthy diet.
▶Know body mass index, exercise often and keep healthy weight to avoid obesity.
▶Treat medical conditions such as diabetes.
▶Surgery. This is an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy involving removal of nerves supplying sweat glands. This is in extreme cases.

How to Help

Do not just talk about a friend who has body odour, share this information with him/her and save someone some embarrassment.

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