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What Are Armpit Glands?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

Armpits are an example of a very necessary structure of the human body that often gets a bad rap. This may be due to their distinct smell or perhaps because New Jersey is called the armpit of America. Regardless of the reason, it is important to note that, without the functions of the armpit glands, the body could not work as efficiently. These structures are small and tubular in design and produce sweat that the body utilizes as a cooling mechanism.

The regulation of body temperature is an extremely important feature of physiological homeostasis. Many of the organs and structures of the body rely on a specific environment, and if this environment varies even slightly, there can be serious implications. The standard body temperature in a human being is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), and even a three- or four-degree increase or decrease can pose a threat to a person's life. It is easy to see how important regulatory mechanisms are.

Antiperspirants and deodorants are often used on the armpit glands.
Antiperspirants and deodorants are often used on the armpit glands.

One such mechanism that the body uses to help maintain a desired temperature is the armpit glands along with other glands located throughout the body. The body may increase in temperature for many reasons, including increased metabolic rate or disease. Sometimes, the body releases sweat to help cool its internal temperature. The sweat then comes in contact with a breeze, which causes the cooling sensation most are familiar with. The degree to which a person sweats is typically reflective of how overheated he or she is at the time.

Armpits serve an important function in cooling the body.
Armpits serve an important function in cooling the body.

The two subtypes of sweat glands are apocrine glands and eccrine glands. The smaller of the two, eccrine glands are located abundantly throughout the body; however, they are more dense in certain areas. Apocrine glands are only located in the axilla and perianal regions. These glands, which include armpit glands, are larger than their related eccrine glands.

Armpit glands usually secrete their viscous by-product through the proximal hair follicles. This process usually begins around puberty and can be associated with a pungent odor. The reason for this odor is usually not the sweat itself coming from the armpit glands but rather bacteria. The warm, dark, and moist environment created by the secretion of sweat into the armpits creates an ideal environment for bacteria to reproduce.

One common treatment for this undesirable smell is antiperspirant or deodorant. Antiperspirant targets the sweating, hoping to minimize armpit gland secretions, whereas deodorant focuses more on masking the smell. Sometimes, a product may contain both antiperspirant and deodorant, fighting the negative implications of sweating from all angles.

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Discussion Comments


Do teenagers have armpit glands that are more active than older people?

If you walk in to a room full of kids that are hot and sweaty, the bad aroma can be overwhelming. It seems like this is more of a problem for young kids. I don't think I sweat nearly as much as I used to.

For many years now I have just used a deodorant instead of an antiperspirant. I no longer seem to have a problem with sweating under my arms and use the deodorant so they smell better.


I have known people who sweat and perspire much easier than others. I have also known some women who never seem to break a sweat no matter how hard they work or how hot it gets.

This has to be a difference in the way their sweat glands work. I just know it can be embarrassing if your armpits are sweating too much and you have wet spots under your arms. This happened to me once when I was in the front of a room full of people giving a presentation.

The more I worried about it, the worse it seemed to get. I think stress can also make us sweat more than usual. For me, the first place I seem to notice this is under my arms.


My sister and my dad both sweat very easily. When the temperature for most people is comfortable or even a little on the cool side, they will be sweating.

This is the biggest reason why my sister doesn't like the hot summer temperatures, but loves the winter. I am just the opposite, and enjoy hot days.

I might feel differently if I sweat as much as she does. She always carries a travel size of deodorant in her purse. There are many times during the day when she has to reapply this so her arm pits don't get wet.

For me, most days all I need to worry about is using deodorant once when I get out of the shower. I wonder if her body has more sweat glands than the average person does.

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    • Antiperspirants and deodorants are often used on the armpit glands.
      By: Dmitry Vereshchagin
      Antiperspirants and deodorants are often used on the armpit glands.
    • Armpits serve an important function in cooling the body.
      By: Artem Furman
      Armpits serve an important function in cooling the body.