Links Between Stress, Sweat and Body Odor

In a perfect world, we would be able to remain calm and never let anyone see us sweat. Real life is a to more complicated than that. We have so many demands on our time that stress is a normal part of modern life. Scientific research has looked for links between stress, sweat and body odor, and the results are very interesting. We can’t help but have issues with stink when we are feeling anxious, irritable, or frustrated. Even happy events can make us get all sticky and sweaty. Stress is not just about negative things. Getting married, having a child, being promoted at work are all good things, but they are all stressful events too. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between good stress and bad stress. It just responds to stress in one way – by making us sweat. That’s how we are wired.


Sweat glands are standard issue for human beings. Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, after all. (You probably thought it was something else, didn’t you?) We have two types of glands that deal with sweat: eccrine and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands are located all over your body and are close to the surface of your skin. Apocrine glands are found in places that have a lot of hair, such as your scalp, your arm pits and genital areas. The latter two spots are prime targets for sweat and BO when you get stressed, by the way. These are the places you notice that need some extra attention when you need to get cleaned up. Blame your pesky apocrine glands for making these areas so yecchy when you get stressed out.



Links Between Stress, Sweat and Body Odor

1 Emotional Stress and Body Odor

The type of stress you are experiencing may have something to do with whether you start to stink. It’s normal to perspire during exercise. This fluid is made up of water and salt and generally doesn’t have a very strong odor. When your emotions are at play, your apocrine glands produce a fatty substance onto the surface of your skin. Once there, it mixes with bacteria to create a type of stink soup. This is what you are smelling when you get a whiff of stress stank. It’s usually pretty rank. You’ll know when you have a problem with it because people around you will quickly take a step back from where you are standing. It will be like they come up against an invisible wall of stink and are unable to move past it.


2 Social Anxiety and Stank

People who feel awkward in public may have issues with stress, sweat and body odor. For individuals with full-blown Social Anxiety Disorder, the fear of being judged by other people can be debilitating. The idea of stepping out in public can be enough to trigger the “flight or flight” response that includes a rapid heartbeat and excessive sweating. For a person who is already nervous about his or her image, the suspicion that a funk issue may be brewing can be enough to keep him or her from venturing out in public.


3 Overactive Thyroid Problem

Overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, can cause the body to produce higher-than-normal amounts of the hormone thyroxine. This causes a particular type of stress on the body, which leads to symptoms like weight loss, nervousness, sensitivity to light, and rapid heartbeat. It also causes increased sweating, leading to more body odor. A higher level of stank leads to more stress, which just turns into a vicious circle. If you are experiencing these types of symptoms, you need to make an appointment to see a doctor.


4 Low Carb Diet Culprit

If you have decided to jump on the low carb diet bandwagon,you may have unknowingly increased your personal funkiness. When you are under stress, your body to use carbs to help you get rid of stress. When this particular type of stress buster is not available to you, your B.O. will be more pungent than usual. You may even fall prey to bad breath that no amount of mints or mouthwash will be able to cure. You will need to decide whether the benefits of following the diet are worth these side effects. A much better choice may be  to eat a balanced diet that includes some low-calorie carbs, such as fruits, veggies, seeds, whole grains, and nuts.


5 Caffeinated Drinks and Stress

Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages is an normal part of many people’s regular daily routine. The morning cup of Joe may not be the healthiest choice, however. Research has shown that starting the day off with a dose of liquid speed exaggerates the stress response. Sweating and stank are likely byproducts of someone who is diving for the coffee pot first thing in the a.m. Drinking coffee stimulates the nervous system and triggers a fight or flight response. If you ingest enough of the stuff,  you are going to start sweating more, which is going to mean more issues with body odor. You will be one of the funky bunch, and not in a any kind of a good way.


Published by

Joe Fresh

Joe is an odor combatant, chemistry extraordinaire and all around good guy. He has an over-productive olfactory system with absolutely zero tolerance for unpleasant aromas.

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