Do underarms serve a purpose?
You know your underarms sweat profusely, get itchy and even grow hair. After all these bizarre and seemingly unwanted things, you probably can’t help but wonder - do underarms have any use at all?
Before you go about wishing disappearance upon these awkward body parts, it may be worth noting how your underarms actually function to keep you healthy. To start off, the most important function of the underarms is to serve as home to more than 20 lymph nodes that are called axillary lymph nodes. Also, your underarms house a lot of sweat glands and sweat serves its own function.
What is the function of axillary lymph nodes?
Your body houses about 20-40 bean-shaped axillary lymph nodes in the underarm area and they work by performing lymphatic drainage. Lymph is a clear, whitish fluid that’s composed of white blood cells and the axillary lymph nodes are responsible for draining lymph from the breasts, upper arms, neck and underarm area.
Lymph mainly works to transport oxygen, nutrients and hormones throughout the body, while getting rid of metabolic waste from the cells of your system. Another important function of the lymph nodes is filtering out cancer cells from your body.
Why do your underarms sweat more than some other body parts?
Sweating is a natural process that your body uses to cool itself down, among other things. There are two types of sweat glands in the body - apocrine and eccrine, and the underarms have an abundance of both. Eccrine glands are mainly responsible for controlling the temperature of your body and when you sweat, your body really cools down.
But apocrine sweat glands emit a thicker, slightly yellowish viscous fluid and are found in large numbers where there is more hair growth. This explains why you have a lot of apocrine glands in your underarm area. This is the sweat that generally reacts with bacteria to produce body odour.
It is believed that armpit odour serves a function in the mating process in humans as well. To a large extent, humans subconsciously decide on their mate based on a person’s scent profile.
There is also some research that suggests that during ovulation, men are drawn to a woman’s smell more.
Does sweating have any health benefits?
The most visible function of an underarm is sweating and, this has numerous health benefits:
- Cooling you down - The most important function of sweating is to maintain your body temperature by cooling you down. As your body heats up, the eccrine sweat glands release the salty liquid sourced from the watery portion of your blood. This brings down your body temperature and prevents overheating.
- Weight loss - When you exercise, your body temperature rises and as a result, you produce sweat. When your body works hard to sweat off the rising temperature, it burns energy in the form of calories, which helps you lose weight. Also, sweating aids in getting rid of water weight as well during a session.
- Ridding bacteria - A study found that sweat contains glycoproteins, which bind to the bacteria on your skin’s surface and as a result, washes the microbes away.
- Detox - Even though detoxing is mostly done by organs like the kidneys, sweating can expel heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium from the body by dissolving them.