In generally healthy people, it's not the underarm sweat itself that stinks. The culprits are the bacteria that feed on the sweat that's manufactured by the specialized apocrinesweat glands found in the armpits, the scalp and in the groin area. Bacteria love this fatty sweat that's released when people get hot, work out or become stressed. The longer your armpits stay warm and moist, the more the bacteria will feed -- and release foul odor in the process.
The medical term for having chronically smelly sweat is bromhidrosis. Producing too much sweat is called hyperhidrosis, and that condition may make the odor problem worse. The obvious first line of defense is to get rid of bacteria and the sweat they dine on.
Showers or baths are crucial to the destruction of these bacteria -- maybe more than once a day when the weather is hot or you're especially active. Deodorant soap that contains antibacterial ingredients also may help. Damp towels and washcloths are other favorite homes for bacteria, so use freshly laundered ones when you bathe or shower.
As badly as some of us may want to, we can't spend all day in the shower. Most of us feel more confident about our body odor with a little extra protection. What is it? Find out on the next page.