Sweat & Body Odor

TEEN – Body & Skin Care – Body Odor

Let’s talk about sweat!

Written by Kristina Collins, M.D., FAAD

First of all, sweat happens to all of us and its purpose is to keep our body cool. Most of the sweat glands in our body are called eccrine glands. This type of gland becomes functional when we are toddlers and secretes a watery, odorless substance that helps us with temperature regulation.

Once we reach puberty, hormones cause the development of apocrine glands, which are a type of gland that appears in hair-bearing areas of the armpits, groin, breasts, or scalp.These apocrine glands rev up the production of sweat in our adolescent years and beyond and are generally the source of our sticky or stinky sweaty situations. The sweat produced by apocrine glands contains oil which becomes stinky when broken down by bacteria on the skin surface. The resulting body odor from this type of sweat can be embarrassing but it also can be prevented. You may notice this type of sweat doesn’t just happen in the heat of the summer or at the gym. When you need to present in class, go on a job interview, or ask someone out on a date, you are likely to notice that your sweat glands become very active if you are nervous. Read on to find out what you can do to control body odor and manage sweat no matter the situation you are in.

Managing BO (Body Odor)

Personal hygiene is important for all people from adolescence through adulthood, whether in social interactions or during professional settings like school or work. Routine showering or bathing on a daily basis and use of a cleanser in the armpit and groin areas help keep the bacteria levels on the skin at normal levels, which in turn helps reduce the chance that sweat will have an abnormally potent odor. Every day you can apply deodorant and antiperspirant to the armpits to prevent both sweating and odor from sweat.

Most of the time, products include both deodorant and antiperspirant, but keep in mind that products including only deodorant DO NOT reduce sweating. Antiperspirant ingredients include aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium, or aluminum sesquichlorohydrate for more sensitive skin. Over-the-counter products generally have concentrations of aluminum from 10 to 20% while prescription products may have higher concentrations of 20 to 25%. Aluminum can disrupt the endocrine system and there have been health concerns linked to breast cancer, kidney disease, and memory problems. For those who prefer to avoid the aluminum in antiperspirants, there are some products available that work really well and use other ingredients (like peptides) to reduce or absorb sweat. However, aluminum is currently the only FDA approved ingredient that blocks sweat glands from producing sweat.

Benefits to using a Natural Deodorant

There are many benefits to using a natural deodorant.

  • It still allows you to sweat. Sweating is a natural function of the body. It helps us regulate our body temperature and helps to keep our body cool.
  • It helps to naturally stop odor as the sweat cools you down, and may decrease the odor causing bacteria on your skin.
  • It helps you safely care for your skin by eliminating harmful products and chemicals.
  • It helps to prevent skin irritations, allergic reactions, or rashes on the skin.
BLOOM’s Top Deodorant Picks

Pick #1: Schmidt’s Deodorant
Schmidt’s is a deodorant that does not use aluminum salts. They use plant and mineral-derived powders and oils that will help keep you fresh. The first and only deodorant to be Ecocert-certified natural in the U.S. 100% natural origin ingredients. Proudly vegan and cruelty-free, always. Find Schmidt’s Deodorant in BLOOM’s Healthy Body Box! See EWG Score

Pick #2: Acure Deodorant
Acure Deodorants are all aluminum free, paraben free, sulfate free, mineral oil free, petrolatum free, formaldehyde free, and cruelty free. See EWG Score

Pick #3: Smarty Pits
Smarty Pits Deodorant is an aluminum free deodorant stick that contains magnesium and avoids baking soda, making it suitable for sensitive skin too. See EWG Score

Keep in mind that no matter what product you choose to use, it is also a great idea to rinse off with water after workouts and dress in layers to prevent overheating when warm. Also, if switching to a natural deodorant, some have reported a transition period where they experienced temporary adjustments with sweating, odor, and sensitivity. So stick with it! Your body and health will thank you.

When should I see a doctor?

The vast majority of people can control their sweat using the methods above, but about 2-3% of people are affected with a condition called hyperhidrosis, which means their sweating is abnormally excessive. People with hyperhidrosis may sweat through shirts quickly and or have sweat dripping from their hands or feet. If you have sweat that appears continuously even when you are not hot, or otherwise impacts your life, you may need to consult a doctor to discuss the possibility of hyperhidrosis. A good first step is to start using a “clinical strength” antiperspirant with 20% aluminum. However, there are also prescription treatments or in-office treatments that may be helpful in certain cases.

Hypohidrosis is when your body is unable to produce sweat, making it hard for your body to cool down properly. This condition often causes parched skin, intolerance to heat, and feeling unwell. If you are not sweating at all, you should let your doctor know.

Explore More in Healthy Body!

Shop BLOOM

We’ve made it our mission to care about our impact on the earth and health of our kids' developing bodies. We offer non-toxic, planet-friendly products from companies whose standards align with our own.

Welcome to the BLOOM Login Page