Sweating can be quite annoying especially if you have to attend an important function and you wish to look your best. Sweat tends to leave a big wet patch either on your back or under your arms. Wonder what sweat is and what makes it odorous and smelly? Let us find out...
Everyday Chemistry - Why do we smell when we sweat?
Sweating can be quite annoying especially since it tends to leave a big wet patch either on your back or under your arms. It makes it especially worse when your sweat tends to smell really foul. Although the bad news is that there is no way to prevent it, the good news is that you can at least tackle it.
Why do we sweat?
Sweating or perspiration is our body's natural way of cooling us down. We may feel the heat more when we sweat but the truth is that the body is cooling itself by releasing all the built in heat. Our body needs to maintain a normal temperature of 98.6 Fahrenheit failing which we are likely to suffer a heart stroke. Sweat is released through small holes known as pores in our skin. When sweat comes in contact with the atmosphere, it evaporates leaving a cool feeling behind. Sweat is almost made of water with small amounts of chemicals like ammonia, urea, sugar and body salts like sodium. Our body has approximately two million tiny sweat glands.
We have two types of sweat glands in our body; eccrine and aprocine glands. Eccrine glands are the common ones and are located in our palms, forehead and soles of our feet. Aprocine glands are found in our armpits and the end of our hair follicles. There is a difference in the type of sweat released by both these glands. Eccrine releases sweat that is more of water and thin in nature. Aprocine releases thicker sweat that has a yellow colour to it because of the presence of fatty acids and proteins.
Why does it smell?!
Hold on before you start blaming the poor sweat glands after getting a whiff of yourself. Sweat on its own is odourless. You start stinking only when the bacteria that live on your skin start mixing with the sweat. Also, when you reach puberty, certain hormones in our body affect the sweat glands especially those in the armpits and lead to an odour.
You can keep the stinky smell under control by regular washing of your body with a mild soap. Many people also believe that using deodorant helps.
So the next time you sweat, don't worry. It's normal to sweat. Everybody sweats! Just make sure you treat it right before it starts smelling!