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Uneven Underarm Odour

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Readers that write in to Good Times in hopes of learning more about a health or nutrition issue come up with questions that would never have occurred to me as candidates for a column.

That novelty factor, plus getting the opportunity to do a deep dive into an unfamiliar subject, is something I enjoy.

A recent letter from a writer posed a question about underarm odour. While I actually did write a piece about armpit sweat a few years back, her concern was something I hadn’t encountered during that process.

I admit, I was intrigued. Maybe you will be, too.

Why, she wanted to know, was the smell from her underarms notably stronger on one side than the other?

But before you leap ahead to story for the answer, a note. There is an error in the piece, due to the fact I misheard one of the interviewees. (My apologies to Dr. Poelman.)

The story incorrectly states that antiperspirants work by forming tiny plugs to block the apocrine glands. In fact, the apocrine glands open onto hair roots beneath the skin, where the antiperspirant won’t reach them. (These glands secrete substances that skin bacteria feed upon.) It’s the eccrine glands, which open onto the skin surface, and produce odourless saltwater, that get temporarily stopped up when you apply antiperspirant. 

Now, here’s the reader’s question column.

A heartfelt thank-you to the two interviewees who so kindly shared their time and expertise:


Curious about other conditions affecting the skin? Visit the Canadian Dermatology Association website.


Photo by Laura from Pexels