Sweating is a bodily process that is used to regulate body temperature. The evaporation of the sweat draws heat from the skin, and also works to keep the skin moist in dry environments. We can also sweat if we are nervous, scared or excited and sweat from some areas of the body contains scents called pheromones that send signals out on a chemical level. Sweat is also thought to contain a natural antibiotic called dermcidin, that can help regulate the natural flora (bacteria and yeast) on our skin.
There are two main types of excessive sweating, focal or generalized, and treatments vary according to each type.
Excessive sweating is a common problem and there may be many reasons why people suffer from this. Each person has around 3 million sweat glands, but some people naturally have more than others, sometimes as a many as over 4 million. Keeping the body temperature regulated is essential and so sweat glands are capable of excreting quite literally liters of sweat per day, and some people who suffer from excessive sweating may have larger sweat glands, which can individually produce more sweat than others.
It has been proven that men are generally more prone to excessive sweating than a woman, but sometimes hormone fluctuations can cause excessive sweating in women, especially around menopause and during pregnancy. Occasionally sweating a lot can indicate underlying medical conditions such as an overactive thyroid gland and also some prescribed drugs such as antibiotics can also trigger sweating around the head and neck.
Excessive sweating can be unpleasant and may be heavy enough to cause significant damp patches on your clothes. Although sweat does not smell bad itself, it creates an ideal breeding ground for some bacteria’s that break down sweat and produce fatty acids. These fatty acids can have a penetrating, unpleasant smell and so to prevent this you will need to wash and change your clothes at least once a day, and after exercising. Sweat from some parts of the body is higher in salt and is less hospitable to bacteria, such as the back and arms, and so sweat from this area will smell less than the armpits or groin.
If you suffer from excessive sweating there are some steps you can take to relieve the embarrassing symptoms.
– There is a wide range of antiperspirant and deodorant products available, some of which are designed to specifically target excessive sweating. Although these will not completely prevent sweating itself, they do work well to control the odor of sweat and can be reapplied throughout the day.
– As you can sweat odors from food through your skin, cut pungent food from your diets such as onions, spices, and oily fish.
– There are some home remedies that help inhibit the growth of bacteria on your skin, such as patting your armpits with a cider vinegar solution before you go to bed at night. You should wash this off though before you apply your deodorant/antiperspirant in the morning.
– Shave – sweat and bacteria cling to body hair, and so to control odor it is best to shave your armpits, and some men might consider using hair removal methods if they have very hairy upper torsos.
– Aluminum chloride products such as Odaban or Perspirex can be more effective that normal antiperspirants, but can stain and weaken the fabric of clothing. You should never apply this to damp skin as it can react and cause irritation.
– Lie down – this may strange but armpit sweating is inhibited when you lie flat. Also if it is a warm day, lying inside in the cool can help regulate your body temperature and prevent excessive sweating from being triggered.
– A new treatment using Botox has also been proven to help inhibit excessive sweating. Botox can be injected into the skin and works by numbing the nerves that trigger sweat gland activity. One treatment can be effective for up to 2-8 months in the armpit area, and in turn, will reduce body odor.
– In some extreme cases, surgery can be carried out. There are two options, one utilizing electrical currents to destroy the nerves that control sweating in key area like the armpits. The second option is to remove layers of skin from the armpit in order to completely remove sweat glands. This is rarely performed now as it cause some significant scarring and cannot be reversed.
These treatments are really the last resort, as sweating is a vital bodily function and if you inhibit it totally in one area, other areas may usually sweat more to compensate, usually on the back or abdomen.