Armpit is one of the locations on the body where accurate temperature of the body can be measured. It is also the region where maximum numbers of sweat glands are present and this is the reason why many of us have underarm or armpit sweating.
Understanding armpit sweat is essential for proper body sweat regulation. But to understand it, we need to understand the types of sweat glands, sweat secretions and the associated sweat odors.
The features of armpit sweat are its appearance and odor. Sweat odor is produced when sweat on the skin surface comes in contact with the bacteria on the skin. The activity of bacteria on the sweats releases odor on the skin.
Understanding armpit sweat requires understanding of the sweat glands, its types and functions. Human sweat glands are essentially liquid substances which are made up of sodium, water and mixture of varieties salts. They act as a radiator in the body by releasing sweats onto the skin surface when your body temperature rises. The sweat evaporates on the skin leaving your body cool.
Sweat glands are of two types- apocrine sweat glands and eccrine sweat glands. Eccrine sweat glands shield most part of the body it produces sweats that helps in cooling the body when the body’s core temperature elevates.
Apocrine sweat glands- Apocrine glands are present widely in groin, scalp and armpits. They produce thicker sweaty substances in response to physical activities and stress. Apocrine sweats are the cause of body odor as naturally occurring skin bacteria guzzle on the thicker sweaty substance on the skin releasing their waste on the surface. This breakdown of these sweats causes smelly odor in the armpits.
Is it normal to sweat underarm?
Since armpit contains high concentration of sweat glands and lymph nodes, sweating much more in the underarms than the other parts of the body such as face, palms and feet is considered normal. Underarm sweating is primarily a body’s natural way to get rid of elevated body heat to cool itself.
Understanding armpit sweat is important as excessive armpit sweating is a medical problem. Excessive underarm sweating is medically referred to as axillary hyperhidrosis. Though armpit sweating may not be a life-threatening, it can pose discomfort and embarrassments and may cause psychological, emotional and physical trauma as well. Armpit sweating often stains clothes and can keep away individual from enjoying life completely. The exact cause of axillary armpit is unknown. However, overactive sympathetic sweat nerves (that controls sweat glands) are known to trigger excessive armpit sweating. Also stress, nervousness, tension and anxiety are known to trigger excessive underarm sweating associated with foul odor.
Other factors that trigger armpit sweat include drugs, stimulants, hyperthyroidism, menopause and other health conditions such as tuberculosis and AIDS. Hence, understanding armpit sweat is very important.
The opposite of excessive armpit hyperhidrosis is Anhidrose armpits. It is a medical disorder in which an individual lacks armpit sweat. Unlike axillary hyperhidrosis, an anhidrose armpit is a life-threatening disorder where an individual in unable to perspire. Since perspiring is necessary for cooling the body and regulating the core temperatures, inability to sweat can cause the body to get overheated and lead to heat stroke. Therefore, it needs medical treatment immediately.
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