What Causes Sweating Under the Arms?

causes-sweating-under-arms Credit: John Lund/Sam Diephius/Blend Images/Getty Images

The human body contains two types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine. Apocrine glands are found in the armpit and the groin and increase sweat production in response to emotion, stress and hormones. Eccrine glands are found all over the body and secrete sweat through pores directly onto the skin's surface, cooling the body through evaporation. Both apocrine and eccrine glands cause underarm sweating.

Apocrine glands secrete a milky substance that interacts with skin bacteria, causing odor. Because apocrine glands secrete into hair follicles just below the surface of the skin, this type of sweat exits the body through hair follicle pores.

Many people find underarm sweat embarrassing and want to stop it. Excessive sweating can be treated in a variety of ways, including through the use of aluminum-based antiperspirants, which work by temporarily blocking the pores.To be most effective, antiperspirants must be applied before going to bed to clean and perfectly dry skin. Formulations of clinical-strength, over-the-counter antiperspirants have been found to be just as effective as prescription antiperspirants.

To eradicate underarm odor, a combination antiperspirant and deodorant formulation can be used, along with good hygiene practices, such as frequent washing. If this combination does not work effectively on its own, medical treatments such as Botox injections, prescription drugs or surgery can be tried.