What is sweating and body odor?

Sweating is the secretion of fluids by sweat glands (made up of eccrine glands and apocrine glands) onto the surface of the skin, mainly for the purpose of maintaining body temperature within an ideal range. When body temperature rises due to physical exertion or being in hot surroundings, the evaporation of sweat from the skin produces a cooling effect.

Sweat itself does not smell but body odor may occur when bacteria on the skin break down acids contained in the sweat produced by apocrine glands, which are located in the armpits, breasts, and genital-anal area. The bacteria’s waste products are what produce the smell.

Who is more likely to experience sweating and body odor?

Body odor begins to occur once a person reaches puberty, as this is when the apocrine glands become developed. Men on the whole have more frequent problems with body odor because they sweat more than women.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/09/2018.


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