Most of the time it just evaporates off our skin, and since sweat alone doesn’t smell, this can happen without us even being aware of it (we’re estimated to sweat off a whopping 3 litres a day). The problem of pong arises in areas where sweat becomes trapped (commonly, feet, pits and bits) and remains moist.
We’re all supposed to sweat. In fact, our bodies rely on sweating to regulate our body temperature and stop us from overheating. So, when things warm up (whether from exercise or sweltering sunshine), our brain signals a response to release the heat through the 2.5 million sweat glands across our body, in order to cool us down.
Bromhidrosis (or body odour), is actually caused by the bacteria that breeds in sweat, so when you catch a whiff of clammy pits, what you can actually smell is the bacteria breaking down. (Nice.)
Sounds gross, but, you’ll be pleased to hear there are steps we can take to keep stink to a minimum.
1. Apply your antiperspirant in the evening
Most of us apply first thing in the morning, but in order to work fully, antiperspirant needs time to sink in. The ideal time to apply is before going to sleep when you’re much less active. If you apply it after your shower in the a.m, it’s more likely to be broken down by sweat on your way to the office, or while racing round the house, before it has a proper chance to get to work. If the thought of going deo-free in the morning makes you feel iffy, you can always reapply for an extra top up.
And, make sure you’re using an antiperspirant (which helps to prevent sweat) rather than a deodorant (which simply helps to mask the smell of sweat), though most antiperspirants also contain deodorant.
2. Wash thoroughly
This is an obvious one that we all know already, but for warmer weather, it’s worth washing twice a day at least (morning and night) to remove any sweat, and opting for shower gels with antibacterial properties, like Original Source’s anti-fungal Tingly Mint & Tea Tree body wash.
Much like our bodies, our clothes (particularly the ones close to sweat-prone areas) need to be washed each time we wear them as bacteria can breed in them even after you’ve taken them off (bleurghh).
3. Dry yourself thoroughly
Bacteria thrives best in moist environments, so once you’re out of the shower, it’s worth patting yourself down (particularly your armpits) to ensure you’re completely dry before applying antiperspirant or pulling on your clothes.
4. Bear your diet in mind
Strong smelling foods like garlic, spices, onions and alcohol can seep through pores (it’s why you might feel positively potent the morning after a big night out), so it’s worth bearing this in mind the night before any events that involve getting up close and personal to other people.
5. Choose your clothing carefully
Though your job may limit your wardrobe choices, anything with ample ventilation (skirts, dresses and loose shirts and T-shirts) are the best way forward. Anything too tight around your armpit will limit airflow and lead to whiffiness.
Likewise, consider the fabric you choose. Opt for natural fibres like cotton and linen, both of which are woven in a way that allows air to flow through. Both tend to stay cool for longer, they’re absorbent, which means they can cope with a fair bit of armpit leakage before showing up any wet marks, and they dry quickly. Plus, they’re slightly stiffer which means they’re less likely to cling,
6. Shave your armpits
Sweat can catch in hairs and fester, contributing to a more pungent pong (not good), so shaving them can help. And, it creates a more effective base for antiperspirant, allowing it to penetrate straight into the skin.
If you still suffer from excessive sweating and haven’t been able to find a solution that works, in some cases, doctors may advise armpit injections, like Botox, to stem sweat. It works by blocking the chemical pathway which stimulates our sweat glands, minimising or preventing the sweat in this area from being produced, but needs to be carried out by an experienced medical professional.