Though your underarms are a secluded part of your body, they won’t be sweating without the presence of your armpit sweat glands.
Sweat glands are responsible for the underarm wetness you feel when you’re running long distances. They also make themselves felt when you’re feeling nervous during a presentation.
The rest of your body also has a fair share of these glands. But your armpits are one of the areas with the most concentration of sweat glands.
But why do these glands even matter? Read on to know more about armpit sweat glands.
How do your armpit sweat glands work?
If we’re going to sum up the number of sweat glands in the body, it will amount to two to four million distributed all over. They come in two types—eccrine and apocrine.
Eccrine sweat glands make up most of them. You can find these on the forehead, cheeks, soles of the feet, palms, and armpits. They help control the body’s temperature by promoting heat loss through evaporation. They secrete an odorless, clear fluid, and is commonly the reason behind excessive sweating.
Apocrine glands are more concentrated in the armpit and genital regions. They secrete a thicker fluid that tends to produce a foul odor if the skin encounters bacteria.
What happens when your armpit sweat glands are clogged?
Have you noticed pimple-like bumps on your hair follicles? Those bumps might be indicative of hidradenitis suppurativa. It’s a condition where your armpit sweat glands get blocked.
There is no clear explanation on why armpit sweat glands get clogged. It may trace back to blocked hair follicles since most sweat and oil glands are in your hair follicles.
Experts believe that it may be due to hormones, especially since it occurs after puberty. Breakouts can also flare during a woman’s period.
Armpit sweat glands clogged by excess sebum can also be a factor. When the glands produce too much sweat, they force sweat into the gland rather than out of it. It can lead to infection and inflammation as trapped bacteria thrive on warm and moist areas.
As with other conditions, the immune system can also play a part.
One symptom to watch out for to know if you have blocked sweat glands is the presence of pea-sized lumps. These small and red bumps can be painful like blisters and can also break open and drain. You might even notice a foul smell emanating from them.
You might also notice a crop of two or more blackheads, which is a very common sign of this condition.
Another symptom is the formation of scars after these breakouts heal. You might also have spongy skin due to deep lines and tracts.
Is underarm sweat glands removal ideal?
You might be thinking, “Is underarms sweat glands removal possible?”
Thanks to the latest medical technologies, you now have various options to remove your sweat glands safely, such as the following:
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy
Also known as ETS surgery, endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy involves interrupting nerve signals going to the sweat glands, thus preventing them from being activated.
Since ETS surgery is a major invasive surgery, it should be your last resort. Still, it yields a long-term result for those who experience excessive sweating.
Laser treatment with liposuction is one of the newest ways to disable sweat glands, often yielding wonderful results.
The laser targets sweat gland cells, causing the tissues to liquify and rupture. The damaged cells are then sucked using a cannula, pretty much like how liposuction is done.
In curettage, a specialized surgical tool with a loop in the end is used on the surface of your skin to scrape out as many of the sweat glands as possible.
Curettage is often paired with liposuction through suction-curettage for maximum effectiveness. It can also be partnered with excision to help cut off sweat glands.
These procedures are done under local anesthesia and in an outpatient setting.
miraDry is an FDA-cleared procedure that destroys sweat, hair, and odor glands in the armpits. The FDA approved it in 2011 for treating axillary hyperhidrosis, and in 2015 for underarm hair and odor removal.
It uses a non-invasive microwave technology delivered through a handheld device to target the glands beneath the armpits. As the sweat glands are destroyed, the surface of the skin is also cooled and protected. It results in permanent sweat reduction.
While sweat is a nuisance, armpit sweat glands are important in thermoregulation. But remember that you can have them removed if they cause excessive sweating that already compromises your everyday life.
If you’re interested in getting miraDry treatments for your sweaty armpits, schedule a Free Consultation with our double board-certified plastic surgeon here in Face+Body Cosmetic Surgery.