THE SCIENCE OF SWEAT

WHAT IS SWEAT?

Sweating is a natural release of fluids from the skin. When sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools the body down. You can see this effect if you lick the back of your hand and blow in it. You can feel the cooling effect and may see the water evaporate away. This is why sweating is more common when you are too warm, such as in hot weather or following exercise.

Sweating can also increase when you feel unwell, anxious, or stressed.

Sweat is salty water. It removes excess salt from the body. This is shown when you eat more salt in your diet – your sweat tastes saltier.

 

WHERE DOES SWEAT COME FROM?

Your skin is covered in tiny glands (groups of cells) that produce sweat. The two main types of sweat glands are called eccrine glands and apocrine glands.

Eccrine glands release sweat all over the body.

Apocrine glands are found mostly in the armpits and groin – they are responsible for body odour. They release a thicker type of sweat. This does not initially smell at first, but can contribute to body odour with time.

 

WHAT IS BODY ODOUR?

Body odour is the smell of sweat that has been on the skin for a few hours. It is a result of bacteria in our underarms and groin breaking down sweat from apocrine glands.

Body odour smells different from person to person. This is mostly affected by diet. Someone who eats strong-smelling or spicy foods will smell different to someone with a milder diet. 

Garlic has a strong effect on body odour, as do alcohol and caffeine.

 

HOW TO REDUCE BODY ODOUR

Sweating is a natural process. However, if you dislike your body odour, there are ways to reduce it:

o   Wash daily – this removes old sweat and can get rid of some of the bacteria on your skin.

o  After washing, dry your body completely – bacteria find it harder to survive on dry skin.

o   Use deodorant or antiperspirant

o   Keep your clothes clean – change your clothes regularly, especially if you are sweating heavily. Change your socks also, or go barefoot when possible. 

A NORMAL FUNCTION

If you are sweating a lot, it is important to remember that your body is losing water. To avoid dehydration, you should drink more water when you are sweating.

Without sweat, your body would quickly overheat. It is a natural and important process.

SURAYA BOND

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