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The Scoop on Sweat and Body Odor
By Christy Brownlee
Teen Health 411
Teenwire Homepage
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Who's got the funk? Better sniff closer - it might be you!

As you've gotten older, you might have noticed a few changes going on with your body. But one of these only your nose knows - it's your personal scent. You smell differently these days than you did a few years ago, and sometimes you can be downright rank, right? What's to blame for all this smelliness? It's your old pal, sweat.

Teenage sweat is different from kid sweat. For starters, there's much more of it. During puberty, hormones that are busy changing you into an adult also up the output of your sweat glands. You sweat more all over, but the places affected most are under your arms and around your genitals.

Teen sweat is also made up of different stuff than kid sweat. Humans have two types of sweat glands - eccrine glands, which release a salty liquid good for cooling the body, and apocrine glands, which put out a milky substance that regulates sweating. Eccrine glands are all over your body, but apocrine glands are found mostly - you guessed it - under your arms and around your genitals. When you go through puberty, your apocrine glands become a lot more active than they used to be.

How do these glands affect your smell? The answer literally lies within your pores. Bacteria that hide out in your skin love apocrine sweat. When they combine with it, they grow and multiply, and they produce lots of waste products. It's that waste that changes your scent to more like 'eau de garbage-dump' than 'eau de pretty-flower'.

Good news, though - there are measures you can take to stop the funk before it starts. If your smell or sweat bothers you, consider trying these tips to keep you smelling your best:

  • Wash daily with an antibacterial soap, like Dial® or Lever 2000®. These soaps reduce the number of bacteria that live on your skin, so there's not as much of their stinky waste products.
  • Wash your clothes regularly. The same bacteria from your skin can also live on sweaty clothes and keep the smell alive.
  • Use a deodorant or anti-perspirant. Deodorants cover up bad smells with good ones, and anti-perspirants temporarily block bacteria from getting into the sweat glands so you don't sweat as much.
  • Dust with talcum powder or cornstarch after bathing. These products absorb sweat to keep you drier and prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Cut your caffeine intake. Cola, coffee, tea, chocolate, and other foods and drinks with caffeine make apocrine sweat glands more active.
  • Eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water. What you eat can actually affect how you smell! You'll be less stinky if you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. And drinking lots of water (eight glasses a day) keeps eccrine glands active to dilute the scent.

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