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October 1953

AXILLARY ODOR: Experimental Study of the Role of Bacteria, Apocrine Sweat, and Deodorants

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.

AMA Arch Derm Syphilol. 1953;68(4):430-446. doi:10.1001/archderm.1953.01540100070012

AS FAR back as history records, man has been aware of a distinctively malodorous scent that may emanate from his axilla. Since the axilla is remarkable anatomically for the presence of the apocrine gland, the unique body odor of this area has been popularly ascribed to this structure. Furthermore, racial differences in body odor have been related to differences in number of apocrine glands seen in the various races.1 The intense acridity of body odor sometimes noted under stress situations is thought to be the result of apocrine sweating.

As a result of these speculations the apocrine gland has been thought of as a "scent gland," responding to emotional stimuli and thus performing the function of such similar glands in the lower mammalia. In studying the physiology of the apocrine gland2 we have been impressed by the lack of appreciable odor in pure apocrine sweat as it