8th December 2019

Why Do We Sweat: The Science Behind the Stink

Last Modified: August 3, 2022

Did you know that hyperhidrosis affects 7.8 million people? It's a condition that usually develops in adolescence or childhood.

Different types of sweat glands affect how we sweat and what makes us sweat.

Although different people respond to different triggers, what causes our sweat glands to flare up are spicy foods, getting mad, the heat and humidity, feeling under pressure, drinking coffee, and having a fever.

If you experience excessive sweating, you came to the right place. Read on to know more of why do we sweat.

Types of Sweat Glands

Our body has two kinds of sweat glands. We have Apocrine Glands and Eccrine Glands. The most important is the eccrine gland. It helps regulate our body temperature.

Apocrine Gland

The other type of gland is the apocrine gland. It produces carbohydrates and protein.

That is why we find stains in our clothing, especially yellow stains in our white shirts. These glands are located in the soles of our feet, palms, forehead, and armpits.

Hair follicles are where the apocrine glands are more common, more specifically under the arm and genitals. That is where we have the most bacteria, which causes it to smell.

These glands stay dormant until puberty. Once they are stimulated hormone changes, that's when they start to produce sweat.

Eccrine Gland

The eccrine glands regulate body temperature. The sympathetic nervous system controls this gland.

As body heat starts to build up, our body starts to sweat from about 2.5 million eccrine glands to cool down the body. When our body temperature rises, sweat on our skin evaporates, helping us cool down.

This gland gets triggered when we are nervous, under pressure, excited, and or exercising.

What Causes You to Sweat?

When we think of sweat, we think of body order, and we think of how it stains our clothes. But in reality, sweat doesn't smell.

Sweat is odourless; it is the bacteria that is on the body that causes it to smell. Getting mad, feeling, under pressure, having a fever, and the heat and humidity are some of the few things that trigger our sweat glands, causing us to sweat.

Getting Mad

When we get angry, our body produces a stress hormone, and that increases our blood pressure and heart rate, which causes us to sweat.

The Heat and Humidity

Without sweat, our body would overheat. Sweating is our body's way of cooling down.

Sweating helps keep our body at its normal body temperature, which is 98.6 Fahrenheit. If our body didn't do this, our bodies would most likely overheat, and we could get heatstroke.

Sweat evaporates from our skin, taking the heat with it. When there is too much humidity, it is harder for sweat to evaporate.

Feeling Under Pressure

Feeling under pressure can cause anxiety, stress, which will result in sweating. All of these emotions trigger the eccrine glands.

This will cause sweat in your palms and feet. That's why sweaty hands are very common when you have anxiety.

Having a Fever

When you get sick, more specifically, when you get a fever, your body temperature rises. This causes your body to get chills and feel cold.

Once the fever is gone, your body temperature will start to regulate itself. You will begin to feel hot, and sweat as your body tries to cool you off and get your body temperature back to normal.

Drinking coffee

Most Brits can't start their day without their morning coffee. Brits drink around 95 million cups of coffee a day.

But what they don't know is that the more coffee you drink, the more you sweat.

Coffee will make you sweat more because it triggers the central nervous system causing you to sweat, and since coffee is hot, it will make your body feel warm.

Spicy foods

Spicy food is not for everyone, but for those who love spicy food, know how it makes your tongue burn. And if it is very spicy, you will start to sweat.

The reason is that spicy foods trick your body into thinking it is hot. Nerve receptors that respond to heat, cause you to sweat excessively depending on the food.

Hot Flashes and Menopause

When a woman goes through menopause, their reproductive organs go through a series of changes. They no longer ovulate, and their menstruation stops.

Menopause typically happens during the ages of 45-52. Symptoms can last from two to four years.

Their high estrogen levels trick the hypothalamus, which makes the body temperature increase, resulting in excessive sweating to cool down their bodies.

It doesn't matter how cold the weather is. Your body will think you are in very high temperatures, and your sweat glands will be triggered, making you feel sweaty.

Pregnant women suffer from hot flashes, as well. The change in hormones and estrogen levels is the cause.

Estrogen is the most important hormone during pregnancy. Your body temperature and estrogen levels fluctuate during pregnancy resulting in sweating.

Does Everyone Sweat?

Everyone is different in many ways, which means everyone sweats differently. Some people sweat a lot while others don't.

Sweating is very important for your body. If you re a healthy person and you don't sweat that much, that could indicate that you are dehydrated.

It is extremely important to stay hydrated. Increase your water intake. Regular exercise is just as important.

Staying hydrated and exercising regularly will turn your salty and oily sweat into a fresh and clean sweat.


Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating. It is not a dangerous condition, but it can cause self-esteem issues, and it can be very uncomfortable for the individual.

There are two types of hyperhidrosis. Focal hyperhidrosis affects mostly your armpits, face, hands, and feet. And generalised hyperhidrosis, which affects your entire body.

If you have hyperhidrosis, a doctor will recommend you see a dermatologist or skin specialist.

They will suggest some treatment options, such as natural hyperhidrosis treatment or medication.

Why Do We Sweat?

Now that you are more aware of sweat and other facts about sweating. It will be easier for you to identify the triggers when you are sweating.

The Apocrine gland will help your body cool down when you have hot flashes or when your body feels hot. When you are eating spicy foods, have a fever, drink coffee.

If you're in getting help for excess sweat, contact us today.

Post Reviewed by: Dr Baldeep Farmah
Medically Reviewed on: 8th December 2019
Dr Baldeep Farmah is the Medical Director and lead Doctor of Dr Aesthetica, a Medical Aesthetic Clinic.

"We want to empower everyone who walks through our clinic doors, to be able to look in the mirror and see a happier, brighter version of themselves."

For everyone that walks through our clinic doors, you may think you are alone, but you are not. Our patients all have a different story to tell but all come from a similar place.
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