Underarm Odor Causes
Underarm Odor Causes Embarrassment: Do Something About It Now!
There are many underarm odor causes which can be remedied in so many different ways. Known formally as axillary hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating from the armpits, it is a cause of embarrassment to millions of people all over the world, whether they are in showbiz and on TV in front of many viewers or going to a job interview on a hot and sunny day. It often involves dark, wet patches under the arms and an accompanying odor. Often there is sweat dripping from this region.
The sufferer is often forced to wear dark colored cotton clothing to hide his or her embarrassment. Often people leave their jacket on when at work to mask the problem – although all it does is to increase levels of perspiration and the noticeable level of smell emanating from this region and the jacket itself. This problem can start during adolescence, when sweat glands begin to mature due to hormonal changes. Occasionally it can start at an earlier age. It results in the sufferer being the subject of ridicule or embarrassment and with subsequent stigmatization, potentially even bullying as they are not fitting into tight social norm pressures.
Underarm odor is particularly noxious because it is one of the very few regions of the body containing a high proportion of apocrine glands. Apocrine glands are outgrowths of hair follicles or pilosebaceous units. Apocrine glands secrete sweat with a high level of fatty acid content. This sweat consists mainly of a substance called sialomucin. These apocrine glands can also be specialized cells, as Moll’s glands on the eyelids, glands which are cerumen producing, or producing earwax especially, glands in the breasts producing milk as well as those found under the arms and producing sweat. Astonishingly, mammalian milk is produced by this very process, albeit activated by hormones.
At birth, the sweat glands under the arms responsible for odor, the apocrine glands, are nonfunctional and small. At puberty, stimulation by hormones activates these apocrine glands which then become responsive to sympathetic nervous system activity. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body’s flight or fight syndrome, where the heart rate and breathing rate quicken, as well as perspiration to aid cooling amongst other things. Often the sympathetic nervous system is activated by emotional stressors, which then causes the hypothalamus, an organ in the brain, to send a signal out to apocrine glands to cause them to sweat.
There are two types of axillary hyperhidrosis, or underarm odor causes, both primary hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis is of unknown cause although it is thought to be related to over activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This is caused by the brain erroneously detecting a higher body temperature than is actually the case, activating the hypothalamus and from there the sympathetic nervous system. Secondary hyperhidrosis can be caused by many factors such as puberty and menopause, obesity, reactions to food, extensive exercising, abnormal functioning of the brain, nerves and spinal cords or even just simply heredity.
Looking at causes of excessive sweating, there seem to be many, including puberty which has already been discussed and menopause. Estrogen is a hormone responsible for regulating the hypothalamus and during menopause, as estrogen levels drop, the hypothalamus falsely detects that the body is overheating and responds by increasing the production of sweat. This naturally leads to a change in body odor due to the increased production of sweat.
Certain foods can worsen armpit odor, without always affecting production of sweat. These foods include garlic and onions, red meat and other sulfur rich foods such as asparagus, parsley, nuts and seeds, watermelon, dairy products, sweet potatoes and bananas amongst many others. When these sulfur-containing compounds are released to the skin’s surface via the apocrine glands, skin bacteria then break down these substances into sulfur containing waste products. Sulfur and many of its compounds have a distinctive and unpleasant smell, and this is how foods can be one of the significant underarm odor causes. Tea and coffee, or chilli can increase the production of underarm perspiration, causing an unpleasant smell through quantity.
Obesity can cause excessive sweating due to the energy required to move yourself, often people who are carrying excess weight can find it an effort to exert themselves. The thick layer of fatty tissue around the body also acts as an insulator, and raising body temperature, promoting further perspiration. The problem can be heredity, or in the genes where it is common amongst all family members and manifests physically as a greater density of apocrine glands, for instance or a greater sympathetic nervous system sensitivity, causing you to sweat more readily. If there is neurological damage, such as on the hypothalamus, this can affect its regulation of the sympathetic nervous system and also cause excessive sweating under the arms.
Significantly, although underarm odor causes much embarrassment, there are many causes for this condition. The good news is that knowing the cause often helps people to look for treatment, possible cures and prevention.