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Sweating and body odor

Sweating and body odor are facts of life for most people. Heavy perspiration and body odor can happen when you exercise, when you're too warm, or when you're nervous, anxious or under stress.

Your body has two main types of sweat glands, and they produce two very different types of sweat. Both types are odorless, but the type of sweat produced in your armpits and groin smells bad when it combines with bacteria found normally on your skin.

Unusual changes in sweating — either excessive perspiration (hyperhidrosis) or little or no perspiration (anhidrosis) — can be cause for concern. Likewise, changes in body odor may be a sign of a medical problem.

For normal sweating and body odor, however, lifestyle and home treatments can effectively manage your symptoms.

Symptoms Causes

Some people naturally sweat more or less than other people. Body odor also can vary from person to person. But you should see a doctor if:

  • You suddenly begin to sweat much more or less than usual
  • Sweating disrupts your daily routine
  • You experience night sweats for no apparent reason
  • You notice a change in your body odor

Your skin has two main types of sweat glands: eccrine glands and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands occur over most of your body and open directly onto the surface of the skin. Apocrine glands develop in areas abundant in hair follicles, such as your armpits and groin, and they empty into the hair follicle just before it opens onto the skin surface.

When your body temperature rises, your eccrine glands secrete fluid onto the surface of your skin, where it cools your body as it evaporates. This fluid is composed mainly of water and salt.

Apocrine glands, on the other hand, produce a milky fluid that most commonly is secreted when you're under emotional stress. This fluid is odorless until it combines with bacteria found normally on your skin.

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