Armpit Odor – causes and treatment

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What is armpit odor?

An unpleasant smell due to perspiration under the arms is known as armpit odor. Perspiration itself does not have any smell. When exposed to atmosphere, chemical changes occur on the skin’s surface due to the presence of certain active bacteria. These chemical changes result into formation of certain acids by the breaking down of protein. These acids give out the pungent smell we know as armpit odor.

The skin contains 2 types of glands namely ‘Eccrine glands’ and ‘Apocrine glands’ that produce sweat. The sweat produced by eccrine glands contains high amount of salt and hence is difficult to be broken down whereas the sweat secreted by apocrine glands are high in protein content and hence easier to break down. This shows that apocrine glands are mainly responsible for armpit odor.

Causes of Armpit Odor

The main reason for armpit odor though appears to be sweating; it is actually due to the bacteria breaking down the proteins into acids. The presence of overactive bacteria in the armpits increases the chances of armpit odor. Unhygienic habits are the main cause of armpit odor.

Other things that give rise to armpit odor are stress and anxiety as heavy sweating is noticed during these conditions. Eating more of spicy foods and lack of zinc, cavities and toxins also result in foul body smell.

Medical conditions like kidney and liver diseases, skin problems, gastrointestinal troubles, bacterial or fungal infection and hyperthyroidism too cause foul smell under the arms.

Armpit Odor Treatment

Armpit odor can be reduced by following simple steps of maintaining good hygienic habits. Antibacterial soaps minimize the number of bacteria present under the arms and thus reducing their activity of protein breakdown. Warm water helps in killing the bacteria on skin and a shower daily keeps away the foul smell.

Hairs under the arm prevent sweat evaporation and therefore shaving of armpits regularly is necessary. Deodorants and antiperspirants help in eliminating armpit odor by blocking the sweat glands and thus reducing the amount of sweat secreted. Natural fibers including cotton, silk and wool help in speedy sweat evaporation by allowing the skin to breathe easily.

These days a new method to control armpit is gaining popularity. About 12 injections of Botulinum toxin are injected in the underarms to block the signaling of brain to the armpit sweat glands.

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