Sweat is essential to human survival and serves as the body’s coolant, protecting it from overheating.
There are two to four million sweat glands distributed all over our bodies.
You skin has two main types of sweat glands; Eccrine and Apocrine.
Eccrine sweat glands are far more numerous and occur on virtually all skin surfaces. Sweating on your forehead, back, arms, etc. They become functional shortly after birth and produce a clear, watery, odorless substance in relatively large amounts to cool the body when overheated.
Apocrine sweat glands, larger than eccrine glannds, occur only in the armpits and pubic area, and around the nipples and navel. They do not become active until puberty and secrete small amounts of a milky, thick substance that is rich in fats.
Although apocrine sweat is odorless when secreted, bacteria normally found on the skin comes in contact with the fats. When this fatty fluid comes in contact with bacteria on the skin’s surface, it produces a characteristic body odor. This is the primary source of body odor arising from both the pubic region and the armpits.
Both the eccrine and apocrine sweat glands are activated by nerves. These nerves respond to a variety of stimuli including:
- - messages from the brain indicating that the body is too hot
- - hormones
- - emotions
- - physical activity or exercise.
In people who have excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, the sweat glands (eccrine glands in particular) overreact and are overactive to stimuli, producing more sweat than is necessary.
The presence of pubic hair in the genital region contributes to body odor emanating from this area for several reasons. While eccrine glands discharge their watery secretions directly onto the skin surface, apocrine glands empty into hair follicles -- as do skin oil glands. The combination of apocrine sweat and skin oil, or sebum, sticks to pubic hairs. Bacteria that feed on these substances also adhere to pubic hairs. Thus, pubic hair provides a physical environment that supports the processes that lead to body odor. The same holds true for armpit hair. People who shave their armpits generally exude less body odor. Similarly, people who trim or remove their pubic hair also usually have less body odor in their pubic area.
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