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Why does sweat stink?


Why does sweat have to stink?

3633 day(s) ago

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Larry
I understand your first reaction when you hear me say that sweat doesn’t stink is to call me sick or insane, but hear me out, and I’ll explain why I am right. Sweat, itself has no smell. Some of our sweat never obtains a scent. This is because we have two different types of sweat-producing glands on our body – eccrine glands and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands can be found over most every area of our skin. Their primary function is to produce sweat that cools us down when we are too hot. The sweat produced by the eccrine glands is almost entirely water and salt. Apocrine glands are located only in certain parts of the body, including the armpits, genitals, ears, breasts, eyelids, and the belly button. Apocrine glands produce sweat that contains not only water and salt but also large amounts of proteins and oil. Still, none of this sweat smells.

No matter how much we clean, our skin is covered in bacteria. Most of these bacteria do not harm us. They are simply looking for food. Luckily for them, and unfortunately for our noses, the bacteria eat the proteins and oils in the sweat produced by our apocrine glands. As they eat, they produce waste material in the form of isovaleric and propionic acids. It is these wastes that give us the odor we mistake for sweat. It is also the reason why our sweat seems to stink at our armpits and genital area worse than any other place. You may be asking now, why feet smell so bad. This is because our feet are usually covered, so the sweat doesn’t evaporate. Even our eccrine gland sweat has small amounts of proteins and oil that bacteria can eat. Our feet smell because they have a lot more time to eat on our moist feet than other places on our body.


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