Monday, July 26, 2010

Pits are the Pits

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a random tidbit about armpits.

I read recently that armpit stink is actually caused by what you eat. Now, traditionally, the theory is that armpit stink is caused by bacteria. So the logic was that since the entire surface of your skin is covered with bacteria, your whole body would smell like armpit if the traditional theory were true and instead the stink must be from your diet. While I agree that your diet has some affect, I have to call BS on de-bunking the bacteria theory because you also sweat in all different places around your body, so if it was purely diet that caused the stink, the rest of you would still smell like armpit.

In reality, there are two kinds of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands are all over your body and functioning from birth while apocrine glands are mostly in your armpit and groin area and become active at puberty (how many babies do you know with armpit stink?). The sweat these glands release is different. In particular, apocrine glands release sweat that contain proteins and fatty acids (eccrine gland sweat does not). When bacteria on the skin metabolize these proteins and fatty acids, an odor is produced. While I can totally agree that diet may play a part here, the reality is that the type of glands and the bacteria are quite important as well.

So where am I going with all this? A handy little tidbit that can help you out on a hot day. Let's say you're at work or a friend's house, or driving to the store and you suddenly realize that...well, you STINK. Running to the bathroom and splashing water on your underarms or wetting a paper towel to wipe them down won't do anything. Killing the bacteria will. If you carry around hand sanitizer, a little bit on your fingers and quick swipe across the 'pits will kill the bacteria and kill the smell for a while (the little alcohol wipes work just as well). This probably isn't good for your skin, but can definitely save your pride. I've been known to toss the bottle of Purel at my poor husband after a hike to avoid stinking up the car, and I've used this trick quite a bit myself (come on, I'm from Texas....does any deodorant hold up to those 105 degree days??).

Should you want to learn more about sweat, Discovery Health has a good tutorial.

1 comment:


I have never had an issue with B.O. until this last pregnancy. I had nausea the whole pregnancy, and had to eat a lot of protein all. the. time., and guess what? I now have to wear deodorant...or I stink! LOL, so although the bacteria is definitely an issue...I was amazed that the change to a high protein made for me...can't wait to cut it back down and get rid of the issue :)

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