First, you need to know that there are two kinds of sweat. According to Vincent S. Roxas, M.D., "the eccrine sweat gland is found all over the body, producing clear odorless fluid. Apocrine is the usual culprit for smelly sweat. It is a thicker fluid and contains materials that can break down, causing the odor. This becomes active during puberty, concentrated around hair follicles–armpits, pubic area, etc." Asians like Filipinos tend to have more eccrine than apocrine, while Caucasians have a larger concentration of apocrine.
Ever felt yourself perspire more than usual when under duress? Stress sweat is a combination of the eccrine and apocrine glands, but the latter, those that emit an odor, usually come first. Apocrine glands contain materials such as fat and protein, which produce an odor when mixed with bacteria on the skin. An interesting trivia: Did you know that people near you can also get stressed when they smell sweat brought upon by stress?
The kind of food you eat can affect your sweat. Spicy foods tend to make people sweat, and bacteria can build up and feed on that. Dr. Roxas cites that scientists suspect that garlic, onions, and certain spices all get broken down and released in the sweat, resulting in malodor. There is no actual scientific study that says there are chemical components released, but it’s a widely reported phenomena. If your B.O. is particularly fishy, then it may be due to trimethylaminuria, a rare genetic disorder "where your body can’t break down the chemical compound trimethylamine, produced during digestion of foods like eggs, legumes, and fish."
Underlying Medical Condition
Dr. Roxas shares that some diseases can sometimes exacerbate body odor. Metabolic diseases can cause a buildup of chemicals that get released in the sweat. A good example of that is diabetes. Infections and thyroid problems can also cause that. "The list is long. However, it’s important to remember that body odor in itself isn’t a definitive symptom of a disease. It can be a helpful clue though. You can have one of the three causes or a combination of hygiene, food, and an underlying medical condition."
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* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors