Despite the attempts of deodorant ads everywhere to convince us otherwise, women do not naturally smell like lilies and meadows. We all sweat, and we all smell to varying degrees in response to our perspiration. There is nothing wrong or weird about it. But unusual body odor from sweat can be a sign of various underlying bodily conditions, choices, and life stages — not just an indicator that you need to go and take several hot showers.
This unpleasant aroma is really the byproduct of sweat and the microscopic environment (microbiome) of your skin. Find out what really makes your sweat smell, what you can do to control it, and how changes in your body odor can alert you to changes in your health.
Bacteria: The Originators of Body Odor
Like you read above, blame the bacteria, not the sweat. Whenever you are physically active, under emotional stress, or overheated, your body seeks to cool itself. It’s your evaporative cooling system. Excess heat is minimized by the evaporation of liquid through pores on the surface of your skin. A pungent smell is produced when sweat contacts the bacteria you normally have living on your skin.
The stench is a byproduct of bacteria consuming the sweat secreted by sweat glands. When bacteria break down sweat, they produce compounds called thioalcohols (pronounced “thigh-o-alcohols”). These compounds can smell like onions, meat, and sulfur. It’s the thioalcohols produced by bacteria, not sweat, that make your armpits stink. The bacteria—which are a normal and healthy part of your skin’s microbiome—most responsible for offensive body odor is Staphylococcus hominis.
Different Sweat, Different Scent?
While you do sweat during exercise, high heat, and stress—not all sweat smells equally. This is because there are two kinds of sweat glands in your body. Each gland produces odorless perspiration; however, their location and unique microbiomes influence their smell.
Eccrine glands (pronounced “e-krine”) are found all over the body. These glands release mostly water and are activated when internal body temperature rises. Apocrine glands (pronounced “ape-o-krine”) develop during puberty and excrete waste in the form of proteins and lipids. Stress can trigger sweat production in the apocrine glands.
Apocrine sweat glands are associated with body odor and are found in abundance near hair follicles. These glands populate the skin of your armpits and groin. Not surprisingly, these two body regions are the main sources of body odor. The bacteria that produce stinky thioalcohols love to live near apocrine glands. That is why “stress sweat” smells worse than the sweat produced by heat or exercise.
Here's the basic way body odor works: in many cases, it's not actually something stinky being exuded from the pores in sweat form. Mostly, odor is caused because sweat on the skin, in itself odorless, is an excellent environment for bacteria, and the bacteria break down the sweat into acids with an unpleasant aroma. In other cases, it's the result of certain substances emerging from the pores and causing a stink on their own terms, but that tends to be associated with either diet or certain medical conditions.
This is why using Bare Pits weekly pit detox paste monthly helps clean out your lymphs, remove toxins, remove build up, remove bacteria, and clean your pores. This allows natural deodorant to work its best and also give you less odor and sweat..