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Sweating and Body Odor


Disease: Sweating and Body Odor Sweating and Body Odor
Category: Dermatological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Although the odor of sweating is troublesome, but usually, sweating is considered only a minor nuisance.

People normally sweat when they are in a hot environment, nervous, under stress, anxious, or when they exercise or exert themselves. Sweating in these circumstances is natural and healthy. Perspiration is usually odorless; however, if it comes in contact with bacteria on the skin, it may have an unpleasant smell.

Excessive Perspiration (hyperhidrosis), little or no perspiration (anhidrosis) or a change in the usual body odor may be a cause for concern because they may be a sign of a medical problem.

In most cases, self-care measures and lifestyle changes manage these symptoms in an effective way. Additionally, prescription antiperspirants or deodorants may also be helpful.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Hot weather, exercise; particularly strenuous exercise; nervousness, and anxiety or stress are some of the factors that may cause people to sweat. However, the amount of sweat usually differs from one person to another.

Sweating occurs on the face, in the armpits, on the palms and on the soles of the feet when it is caused by emotion. However, the mood, diet, some drugs and medical conditions, and hormone levels may affect the way a person sweats and the amount of the sweat. Additionally, some people may inherit a tendency to sweat heavily, particularly on the palms and soles.

In order to detect any unusual changes in the body, a person should know what the normal amount of sweat is for them and its odor.

 In case someone notices a change in their body odor, suddenly begins to sweat much more or less than usual, experiences night sweats for no apparent reason or if sweating disrupts their daily routine, then they should see a doctor.

Diabetic ketoacidosis and kidney failure are some of the medical conditions that may change body odor.


The temperature regulation system of the body, namely the sweat glands, is the cause of sweating and body odor.

The eccrine glands and apocrine glands are the two types of sweat glands that are found in the skin. Apocrine glands are found in areas that are rich in hair follicles, such as the groin, armpits and scalp, while the eccrine glands are found over most of the body and open directly onto the skin's surface.

Whenever the temperature of the body rises, the autonomic nervous system will stimulate the eccrine glands to secrete fluid onto the skin's surface, where it evaporates as it cools the body. Water and salt are the main constituents of this perspiration, in addition to trace amounts of other substances, such as urea and other electrolytes, which are substances that help regulate the balance of fluids in the body.

On the other hand, the apocrine glands secrete a fatty sweat directly into the tubule of the gland. The wall of the tubule will contract when a person is under emotional stress and the sweat will be pushed to the surface of the skin where the bacteria will begin to break it down. The odor of the sweat is usually caused by the bacterial breakdown of apocrine sweat.





An antiperspirant and deodorant may solve the problem of sweating and body odor.

The amount of perspiration that reaches the skin will be reduced with the use of an antiperspirant that contains aluminum-based compounds that temporarily block the sweat pore.

Usually, deodorants contain perfume fragrances that are intended to block out the odor of perspiration. Used on the hands, feet and underarms, deodorants eliminate odor but not perspiration. They are alcohol-based and make the skin less attractive to bacteria by turning the skin acidic.

A person may be prescribed aluminum chloride in case over-the-counter antiperspirants don't help in controlling their sweating. This prescription antiperspirant should be applied at night to the places that are more susceptible to sweating, and the medication should be washed off in the morning in order to avoid having red, swollen and itchy skin.


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