15 Things You Didn’t Know About Sweat


Your DNA and fingerprints are uniquely yours, but what else about you is also individual? How about your sweat! Here are some facts about sweat that maybe you didn’t know.

  1. Sweat is composed of about 99 percent water and evaporates on the skin’s surface to cool the body and keep it from overheating.
  2. Sweat secretions include dermcidin, an antibiotic peptide that appears to regulate bacteria growth on the skin and may fight infection.
  3. Men sweat up to twice as much as women, and both sexes sweat less with age.
  4. A “sweat reflex” can be triggered by a single touch.
  5. People with the skin condition atopic dermatitis can experience an immediate and serious allergic reaction to a fungal protein found in sweat called MGL_1304.
  6. If you’re sweating red and you’re not a hippo (who sweat red on the regular), you might have a rare condition called hematohidrosis. Blood vessels rupture and run into sweat glands, causing them to actually sweat blood.
  7. Chromhidrosis causes humans to sweat orange, blue or other colors. While the rare condition can sometimes be traced to ingesting certain drugs, the cause is not known in otherwise healthy people.
  8. Healthy-person sweat often smells different from that of a sick person because the body emits volatile organic compounds based on metabolic condition, which can change when disease or infection is present.
  9. Emotions can trigger changes in the composition of your sweat. An Austrian study collected sweat from participants during a scary movie and then during a neutral movie. Volunteers who sniffed the collected sweat pads were able to distinguish the difference.
  10. In a different experiment, female participants determined the sweat of non-meat-eating men was more attractive than meat eaters.
  11. An individual’s sweat “fingerprint” includes a blend of 373 volatile compounds and remains consistent even while other components may fluctuate.
  12. There are two types of sweat glands, apocrine and eccrine, and are universal to humans. Eccrine glands are present over most of our bodies, where apocrine glands are found only in our armpits and genital region.
  13. Apocrine perspiration is responsible for most of the odor produced by our bodies because it’s high in water and waste products and promotes the growth of smelly bacteria. Our bodies only produce a very limited amount of apocrine sweat.
  14. Eccrine sweat is produced in much larger quantities and spreads the apocrine over a larger surface area — taking the smell of the apocrine sweat along with it.
  15. Human feet have 250,000 sweat glands and emit a half pint of liquid every day. The average human has more than 2.6 million glands throughout their body.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that the lining of your outer ear has modified apocrine glands called ceruminous glands?

These modified sweat glands produce ear wax. Ear wax is thought to prevent foreign material from entering your ears, including insects.