Their body has a distinctive odor, just like their fingers have unique fingerprints. And that eau d'you remains even if you change what you eat, according to a new study. Most of our strong body odor comes from a kind of sweat that comes out of the apocrine glands in the armpits. The apocrine glands are activated during puberty and are primarily responsible for turning the armpits into stinky areas from adolescence onward.
Meanwhile, the salty substance that flows when we exercise or overheat arises from a different and more abundant sweat gland, the eccrine gland. Most of us have between 2 and 5 million eccrine sweat glands scattered throughout our bodies, including the armpit. The evaporation of water in this salty sweat draws heat away from the skin to cool us down; it's our main defense against potentially life-threatening heatstroke. Bacteria on the skin cause body odor.
It's completely normal to have a natural body odor and it's not necessarily related to the amount of sweat you sweat. Certain medical conditions, genetics, being overweight, or eating certain foods can make you more susceptible to body odor. If you're self-conscious about body odor, there are things you can try to reduce or mask the unpleasant odor. Using a stronger antiperspirant, shaving and washing with antibacterial soap several times a day can help.
If none of these solutions work for you, contact your healthcare provider. They may recommend prescription treatment or perform tests to rule out other conditions. Olfaction researchers Barbara Sommerville and David Gee, from the University of Leeds in England, observed that smelling each other's hands or faces is an almost universal human greeting. Law enforcement officers have long realized that people who arrive for questioning smell of their own personality, but leave with a very similar smell after the stressful interrogation.
In a Frontiers in Endocrinology study, 115 men smelled the body odor and genital odor of 45 women, and found that men's testosterone and cortisol levels increased in response to both odors if they came from fertile women, and the response lasted longer after smelling genital odor. I was hoping to discover that women have a strong and favorable reaction to the smell of androsterone during ovulation, when their sense of smell sharpens and that's when they're most likely to conceive. Hair provides a surface from which apocrine odors can diffuse, part of the reason why hairier men smell particularly pungent. As a professional olfactory at the New Jersey-based company Sensory Spectrum, she smells things for a living, to help companies evaluate the aromas of a new coffee infusion, or to assess whether a deodorant successfully blocks body odor.