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Sweat and Body Odor: Why Does My Child Need Deodorant?

by Kathryn Holdforth August 23, 2017

Sweat and Body Odor: Why Does My Child Need Deodorant?

Do you ever wonder why some people sweat a lot while others don’t sweat at all?  And how does sweating contribute to body odor?  Here at JK Naturals, we’re obsessed with natural ingredients and their wonderful properties that can hydrate, soothe and heal our skin. But we’re equally intrigued by the wonders of the body itself: how it operates and why it does what it does.  We’ve become fascinated with how the body functions and why it sweats; we make deodorant after all. Making a product to solve a problem is our passion, but finding the root cause of the problem is just plain interesting and exciting to us. We have to know why something is happening and how it’s happening in order to fully understand how to serve the problem and our customers well.  So, we did a little digging into the science behind sweat and body odor and here’s what we’ve found out.

Understanding sweat and body odor begins with two types of glands.

The body has two types of glands: Eccrine sweat glands and Apocrine glands.  In order to understand what’s going on in our bodies, we need to look at the roles these two types of glands play in determining sweat and body odor.  

Eccrine glands are sweat glands that are widely distributed all over the body. When our body’s temperature rises, the sympathetic nervous system stimulates the eccrine sweat glands. This secretes a water solution (sweat) to the skin’s surface to cool the body down. These glands function as our body’s thermostat - in addition to excreting unwanted substances, such as toxins - by way of sweat.  The water that is secreted is essentially a dilute sodium chloride solution containing trace amounts of other plasma (the liquid portion of the blood) and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Think of this as our body’s own Smart Water® or Gatorade® of sorts (but way better!).
Sodium chloride role sweat and body odor

Up until a child reaches puberty, any sweating they experience is coming from the Eccrine sweat glands. Therefore, it’s mostly water they’re excreting as the apocrine glands are inactive.  Once puberty begins, however, the apocrine sweat glands kick into action.

Apocrine glands account for the "stink" of sweat and body odor.

Apocrine sweat glands are associated with the presence of hair in human beings. They are located in the scalp, armpit, eyelids, ears, and perineum.  The hormonal surge during puberty brings about a change in the size of the glands and starts the functioning of these glands. The apocrine sweat glands secrete an oily substance containing pheromone-like compounds which attract the opposite sex (I find this odd as I personally have never found this odor appealing). The glands secrete this oily fluid into the sac of the hair follicle through which it eventually comes out of the skin.  

The bacteria that naturally grow on our skin love this oily substance. They break down the fats into unsaturated fatty acids that possess a pungent odor.  This answers the question I had of why my son’s head smelled as well as his body!  Whether these glands are active or mellow, during puberty, the stink is going to happen.

water is needed for sweat and body odor

Sweating is natural and needed.

It’s important to realize that sweating is normal as it’s our body’s way of regulating temperature and releasing toxins. Sweating is done through the eccrine sweat glands, distributed all over our body. It is the salt water solution that has no odor to it. Despite what we may think, sweating is a good thing. We need to sweat for our bodies to function properly and to stay healthy.  Therefore, using antiperspirants (which close these glands to stop the sweat) doesn’t make any sense. That would be like turning off the air conditioner in your house when it’s 100 degrees outside. Even though no one enjoys walking around with wet clothes due to sweat, we really need to appreciate that our body is working properly and doing exactly what we need it to do.

How to explain sweat and body odor to your children (especially once puberty hits).

Explaining to our children how the body works with sweat and body odor in this magnificent and wonderful way is a great way to approach a sensitive topic. Knowing this is a completely normal part of growing up will help ease any embarrassing feelings that may have otherwise existed.  If we know and understand what’s happening in our body, we can find solutions to embarrassing problems such as body odor. Taking showers daily and using a healthy deodorant such as the ones JK Naturals makes specifically for teens (and their parents) can help children to feel more confident about their bodies and themselves.  Now that we know what our body is doing and why, it’s easier to talk about it and find solutions.  




Kathryn Holdforth

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