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What Are Armpits? Understanding This Sweaty Body Part

What Are Armpits? Understanding This Sweaty Body Part

When it comes to bodily areas that can cause embarrassment, few top the humble armpit. These little valleys where our arms meet our torso may seem unremarkable. But those tiny armpits play a big role in human biology and hygiene.

So just what are armpits? Let's break down everything you need to know about this stinky subject.

Armpits Are Sweat Glands At their core, armpits are a concentration of specialized sweat glands called apocrine glands. While eccrine glands cover your entire body and release perspiration to cool you down, apocrine glands are exclusive to the armpit area.

These apocrine glands produce a thicker, protein-rich sweat. It's this sweat that creates an environment perfect for odor-causing bacteria to thrive when it hits the warm, humid confines of your pits.

Why Do Armpits Have Hair? Another key identifier of armpits is the thick tufts of hair found there. Both men and women grow armpit hair once they hit puberty as a result of increased hormone production.

While there's some debate around its original purpose, armpit hair is thought to help disperse your body's scent signals and pheromones. The coarse hair may also help wick sweat away from the skin.

Cultural Views on Armpits While a basic part of anatomy, armpits have long been scrutinized from a social and cultural standpoint. Having visible armpit hair and noticeable body odor has been seen as unhygienic or unprofessional in many societies.

As a result, the beauty industry around deodorizing armpits with shaving, waxing, powders, and antiperspirants is massive. Even plastic surgery to remove sweat glands is now an option for those troubled by excess underarm perspiration.

Armpit Health Risks Beyond smells and societal standards, there are some legitimate medical reasons to keep an eye on your armpits. Their tight, moist environment makes them susceptible to issues like:

  • Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
  • Hair Ingrown Infections
  • Cysts and Abscesses
  • Certain Cancers

Checking for unusual lumps, rashes, or other changes during regular self-exams is recommended. Most armpit issues can be resolved with good hygiene practices and professional treatment as needed.

The humble armpit may not be the most glamorous body part out there. But taking care of these sweat gland-packed areas through proper grooming and hygiene is key to avoiding pit stains, funky smells, and other unsightly concerns. A little armpit awareness can go a long way!