There's a commercial on television for Secret deororant that shows a woman kneeling on the floor drying her armpit with the hand dryer and the commercial goes on to point out that stress sweat smells worse than normal sweat. Is that true? Is stress sweat even real?
It happens that it's real and it does smell worse than normal sweat. In fact there are three types of sweat.
Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and sweat helps to regulate this internal temperature. But not all sweat is the same; the body experiences three types of sweat as a result of different bodily reactions:
1) Exercise sweat results from physical activity that raises your heart rate. As your body heats up, your hypothalamus (the body's internal thermostat) triggers the central nervous system to release neurotransmitters, which tell the eccrine glands to produce sweat. As you sweat it helps keep the body cool.
2) Heat sweat is, well, when you sweat because you're in a hot environment even though your body isn’t physically active.
3) Stress sweat results from being in a stressful situation and you nervous system triggers the fight or flight center. When you experience stress, the brain releases adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream and the nervous system then signals your apocrine sweat glands, not the eccrine glands mentioned above, to start pumping out sweat.
Your skin has two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands occur over most of your body and open directly onto the surface of your skin. Apocrine glands open into the hair follicle, leading to the surface of the skin. They are located in areas abundant in hair follicles, such as on the scalp, armpits and groin. Because stress sweat is not tied to external temperature it's hard to control.
Evolutionists say it stinks because putting off a strong, repulsive scent would deter predators who were out to eat you. They also claim that sweating palms helped our ancestors get a better grip on their weapons.
The body actually has two types of stress sweat glands that release different substances and smells:
•Eccrine - the body contains more than 3 million eccrine glands. Located between hair follicles on the skin’s surface, eccrine glands release an odorless combination of water, salt and electrolytes. The eccrine glands are responsible for exercise and heat sweat. If you suffer from excessive sweating these are the glands to blame.
•Apocrine - they are found beneath hair follicles. When stressed, your body secretes an odorless white, milky fluid consisting of water, proteins and fats. Once the fluid mixes with natural bacteria on your skin, the bacteria eat sweat and produce a foul-smelling body odor.
These glands produce stress-induced sweat which is why stress sweat smells extra bad. It can get worse! Smelling stress sweat can trigger you to sweat more.
There's also a psychological downside to stress sweat. Stress sweat can affect a person's confidence and affect job performance. One study found that participants who reported having more confidence earned higher wages and were promoted faster than those with lower confidence. A confident person just looks more capable.
Some companies advertise underwear that claim to reduce the sweat problem. It's made from material that has anti-microbial properties and is breathable. The special fabric keeps the body much drier which can help avert bacterial buildup and odor. From customer reviews that I have read it actually does work.