Ronke Adeniran, a dermatologist, says armpits have an inherent odour that is normal due to apocrine and eccrine glands.
Ms Adeniran explained that generally, body odour happens when sweat interacts with bacteria on the skin and when the apocrine glands in the armpits secrete scent.
“Changes to body odour can happen due to diet, hygiene or hormonal fluctuations. If you or a loved one is offended by your smell, a solid hygiene routine and working with a dermatologist can help.
“However, it is also important to remember that body odour is expected,” she said. “Remember that body odour is perfectly natural and completely normal.”
The eccrine sweat glands occur over most of the body and open directly onto the skin’s surface, while apocrine glands open into the hair follicle, leading to the skin’s surface.
She explained that the eccrine and apocrine glands become active and highly sensitive to hormonal fluctuations during puberty.
“When you sweat, which everyone does, the bacteria and other microorganisms become moist and give off a smell.
“As the body breaks down food, chemical compounds reach the apocrine glands where they can then be secreted as body odour,” she said.
She pointed out that if the armpits suddenly smell especially foul, it could be a sign of an infection that needed medical attention.
“Other than that, the only thing you risk from having smelly armpits is that people around you may get grossed out by your smell,” she said.
Ms Adeniran said the conditions that cause excess sweating, known as hyperhidrosis, can increase body odour.
“Hyperhidrosis has many causes, including anxiety, infection, cancer, stroke, a thyroid condition and menopause,” she said.
According to her, if one sweats a lot, the moisture caused by the extra sweat can promote bacterial growth.
She said, “anytime you sweat while exercising, you will likely notice a stronger smell.
“But during puberty, the apocrine glands become active, causing the uptick in the smell that many people going through puberty experience.”
According to her, since body odour is new territory for many tweens and teens, they may not yet know how to control it through proper washing, wearing deodorant and frequent changing of clothes.
She said, “that could make matters even stinkier because hygiene plays the biggest role at that point.”
The expert disclosed that hormonal changes could also impact the body smell, whether caused by the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause.