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Why Do We Sweat? And Why Does It Smell So Bad?

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We tend to have a love/hate relationship with our sweat. We go to the gym to “break a sweat” because it’s good for our health, but then we hit the showers and immediately apply a generous layer of antiperspirant in order to stop stress sweat from happening over the rest of the day. Sweat is natural and, for the most part, normal, although if you feel like you sweat more than normal, consult with your healthcare provider.

Sweat is our body’s way of regulating our core temperature. When our brain senses that our temp has gone up, it will trigger the release of fluids that will help to naturally cool our bodies down. Sweat does cause some embarrassing moments, though. Yellow pit stains or sweat-soaked armpits are as frustrating as they are undesirable.

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Two different groups of glands control the way (and where) we sweat. The apocrine glands, found in the arm and groin (places where hair grows), release moisture that contains both protein and carbohydrates; it is milky in color and can discoloration to occur on clothing that has contact with these parts of the body. Eccrine glands are found in our hands, feet, and foreheads and the liquid they release contains salts and electrolytes. Both sets of glands play a role in managing our core body temperature under different environmental and emotional circumstances. And both types of sweat can lead to that stinky smell.

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Sweat does stink, and the source of that odor is when our sweat comes into contact with bacteria on our bodies. For that reason, we wear bathe regularly and wear deodorants with antiperspirant to combat both perspiration and odor. Everyone sweats differently and there are a variety of factors that determine how we sweat; genetics, environment, clothing, food, and medications can all have an impact on sweat. Knowing how and why our sweat works can be valuable information in helping us to better understand – and manage – all that our bodies do to keep us healthy.

If you do notice unusual or excessive perspiration, then it’s a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider to make sure your sweat isn’t a sign of something more significant.

Keep reading for tips on how to get the stink out of your workout clothes!

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