Apocrine Sweat Glands

Apocrine sweat is produced by apocrine sweat glands. There are a couple of things that make apocrine sweat particularly “interesting”…

  • it tends to smell more bad when bacteria get into contact with it
  • it has a more thick and milky consistency than normal sweat (because there are substances like protein, ammonia, lipids and chromogranins contained in it). This is a problem because your skin is like a big bacteria farm – there are literally millions of bacteria everywhere on your skin. That’s a good thing, because they are health bacteria, but when they get into contact with apocrine sweat, it starts to smell nonetheless.


The proteins that apocrine sweat produces are similar to pheromones that other mammals produce.

smelly sweat? must be the apocrine sweat glands...

Stress Sweat?

The apocrine sweat glands tend to be stimulated into action by stress and emotions – that’s one of the reasons why when you feel stress, anxiety, frustration or fear, your sweat tends to be more smelly. The underlying mechanism is probably the the hormones which get released when you experience emotional stress cause the apocrine sweat glands to contract more.

Only in Teenagers & Adults

Apocrine sweat glands become active in adolescence – which is one of the major reasons why kids generally don’t smell bad when they sweat. Their apocrine glands simply aren’t very active yet.

The problem is that bacteria love to munch away on apocrine sweat, they multiply a lot and grow when there is apocrine sweat. And while they multiply and grow, they produce a lot of bacterial waste products – and that is what smells bad.

Body Areas

Apocrine sweat glands can be found only in the armpits, the areola of the nipples, the genital area, the anal region, the belly button, the eyelids, the external ear canal. They are a certain kind of sweat glands which seem to tend to rather produce more intense body odors.

Apocrine sweat usually travels along the hair shaft to the skin’s surface, and it’s here where through the contact with oxigen and bacteria the foul smells develop.


Lucky Asians

Asians have fewer apocrine sweat glands than members of other races, and scientists believe that this might be the reason why they tend to be less prone to body odor.

Currently, scientists believe that apocrine sweat glands serve no special function in humans. They seem to be a genetic remnant of the mammalian sexual scent gland. Or maybe they just serve a function which we aren’t currently aware of – after all, scientists just recently figured out that even the appendix might actually have a purpose.

Apocrine sweat glands do not react to Botox treatments. So if you want to undergo a Botox treatment because of smelly sweat, save your money on this one.


Aspirin and some other over-the-counter medications can actually make you sweat more.


One simple piece of advice that I can give you right away is to simply change your bed sheets and pillows more often. Apocrine sweat gets sucked up by your sheets and pillows at night, and can also cause bad smells when you lay down the next night. Flip your pillow every other nide, and your sheets too, so that you don’t sleep two nights in a row with the same side in skin contact.

Also, avoiding certain foods (which are listed in The Sweat Guide) will help to reduce the activity of apocrine sweat glands.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

justin October 23, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Nice article but check out the 4th paragraph, please correct the typo of fever to fewer asians etc.. Thanks.

Sweat No More October 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Thank you Justin for pointing it out, I have corrected the type 🙂

jose April 3, 2011 at 7:58 am

My anal area is sweating everyday and the smell is really bad I smeling everyday. Depend of the weather is it too hot the sweat and smell is more I tryed botox but it does not work can you help me. Sorry I learning english

Sweat No More April 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Hi Jose,
thanks for your comment, we’ll publish an article about anal sweating soon that goes into more detail and points out possible solutions.

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