why does one armpit smell when the other doesn't?
April 15, 2013 11:50 AM   Subscribe

i'm generally not a stinky girl but when i do get stinky, it's always just my right armpit. my friend m is the same way, except her left armpit. we're both right-handed, i sleep on my left side, she sleeps on both sides about evenly. what's the deal? i googled first but all the forums where this was asked had people just talking about what causes b.o. and not answering the question. is it sweat glands? bacteria? what can we do to destink our respective stinky pits?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Ah. Well, (looks around shifty-eyed) I call my right armpit the "meat pie" because it has a noticeably funkier odor. It's been like this for at least a decade?

My theory is that one of my follicles is now permanently on the fritz due to waxing/plucking. Instead of a hair growing out normally from the follicle, it gives up very early on and just hangs out with the sebaceous gland, getting stinky. I know exactly which one it is because I can push out the wanna-be hair from time to time. It smells. But my armpit is less musky for a while after extraction.

I have no clue if this is what ails your armpit ecosystem but it is my current explanation for my lopsided odor.
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:45 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seems totally plausible to me that the left pit might have a different bacterial make-up than the right.
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:01 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

My first thought: it's the side you wear your purse. More/different movement + purses are often made of pleather - which might hinder evaporation and increase temperature. Higher humidity + temperature aid bacterial growth.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:03 PM on April 15, 2013

My theory is that you aren't applying deodorant/anti-perspirant evenly to both armpits. Maybe you always apply one less swipe to the stinky armpit?
posted by cabingirl at 1:24 PM on April 15, 2013

I'm pretty confident that this is not a thing affected by deodorants or bag carrying. I also have distinctly asymmetrical armpits, but I carry bags on both shoulders and have worn no deodorants for many years. I suspect it's sweat gland or bacteria distribution, but who knows? For destinkification I favor baking soda, plus some sort of moisturizer in the event the baking soda irritates my skin.
posted by clavicle at 1:43 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in to say that only one of my armpits smells. This has been confirmed by my very patient boyfriend. I still use deodorant in both, and I seem to sweat evenly. I think the left side just has more bacteria. Not terribly uncommon, apparently!
posted by bonheur at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I remember noticing this years ago. Occasionally the stinky pit would shift, often on a monthly cycle so I always thought hormones have something to do with it too. (I'm female.)
posted by purple_bird at 4:36 PM on April 15, 2013

It's because you have less apocrine sweat glands in one pit.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:37 PM on April 15, 2013

Vigorously rub in a big blob of hand sanitizer, a splash of rubbing alcohol or scrub up with an alcohol prep pad and see if that evens things out.
posted by doreur at 6:12 PM on April 15, 2013

Not exactly an answer to why one is more stinky than the other, but just for information purposes, Hibiclens works (for me) at killing the bacteria that causes the stink; no antiperspirant or deodorant necessary.
posted by jeffmilner at 10:02 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I once read that the fauna inhabiting the surface of your body can vary as widely and in the same ways as fauna inhabiting various parts of the planet.
posted by cmoj at 11:48 PM on April 15, 2013

I get this too and I don't wax, pluck, or shave my armpits. I have long wondered why my anti-perspiration, which contains alcohol, doesn't kill off the bacterial fauna that are obviously growing asymmetrically.
posted by mai at 2:55 PM on April 17, 2013

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