Sweating is something that many of us feel uncomfortable with: society has billed it as disgusting and unfeminine, and that’s why we can feel conscious about this incredibly natural biological function.
There is also a lot of rubbish on the internet, mainly from alternative health websites, about the ‘benefits’ of sweating. Here, we’ve tried to cut through all the bull and give you the lowdown on what sweat is and why you do it.
What is sweat?
Sweat is a colourless saline moisture excreted by the sweat glands. You have between three and four million sweat glands on your body, and they fall into two categories: eccrine glands, which are spread all over the skin; and apocrine glands, which are found in areas like the armpits and around the genitals. These develop during puberty, as they are also the means by which the body releases odourless pheromones. Wink wink.
Sweat does not usually smell. If you eat or drink certain things, like garlic or alcohol, then the sweat excreted from the eccrine glands can have a bad scent. Some medications can also cause this.
When it comes to your armpits, it’s not that the apocrine glands excrete smelly sweat, but rather that these glands produce sweat that is high in protein. Bacteria on your skin find it easier to break this kind of sweat down, sometimes resulting in body odour.