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SWEATOPEDIA

Sweatopedia is a leading source of comprehensive, objective, and accurate information on hyperhidrosis.

Complications of Hyperhidrosis

Do Toxins Come Out When you Sweat?

By Katie Crissman /

There is a lot of misinformation about sweat circulating in popular culture today. Many people claim that sweating can clean the body of unwanted toxins and increase a person’s health. While sweating can be a good thing, it is not necessarily the detoxifying cure that some would lead you to believe.

Why People Sweat and What is Normally in it?

It is important to understand thathumans sweat almost exclusively to maintain thermoregulation. Thermoregulation is the process the body uses to maintain its internal core temperature. Sweat works with body temperature in an intricate balance to keep the body from becoming too hot, not as a way for the body to rid itself of toxins. However, the body does lose certain metabolites when it sweats. Most of the sweat the body produces is lost through eccrine sweat glands, which most of the surface of the skin. The sweat that eccrine sweat glands produce is made up of 99 % water and a few other metabolites including: waste products from the blood like sodium chloride, urea, uric acid, proteins, and immunoglobulins.[1] So, what your body loses when it sweats is primarily water and some waste products from your bloodstream. However, the body also loses certain electrolytes, which are salts like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium chloride, as well as some water soluble micronutrients.[2] In a way, the waste products like urea and uric acid that are lost in sweat can be thought of as toxic - but they are normal bodily waste products that are also excreted in much higher concentrations through urination.

Do Toxins Come Out When You Sweat?

Maybe, a little bit. However, they are produced in such low amounts that the impact of sweating out toxins is negligent when it comes to a person’s health. Some of the typical chemicals people think of as toxins are pesticides, flame retardants, and PCB’s, among others. It is also interesting to note that these chemicals are not actually toxins, which are naturally occuring poisons made by plants and animals, but toxicants. The reason that these toxicant levels are so low in sweat is because most of them are not water soluble, and sweat is made primarily of water. Many of these substances tend to be stored in fat molecules in the body. Most of the toxins and toxicants that build up in the body are processed and eliminated by the liver and kidneys, which function for that specific purpose, unlike sweat.[3] Some studies have found that troubling levels of BPA’s, which were commonly used in the manufacturing of plastics, are found in sweat.[4] This is because BPA’s are more water soluble than most other toxicants. There are more effective ways to get rid of BPA’s that have built up in a person’s body than by sweating, however, and it is more highly concentrated in urine anyways.[3]

So, yes, you do sweat out “toxins”, specifically blood waste products and BPA’s (if you’ve been exposed), but sweating toxins out is not an effective way to rid your body of these substances. Using a sauna to sweat out toxins and detoxify is much less effective than simply drinking more water and giving your kidneys some extra liquid to work with. Unfortunately, this also means that for people with hyperhidrosis, who sweat excessively, they probably aren’t any less like to have toxins in their bodies than anyone else.

Sources
  1. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science.
  2. Popkin, B. M., D'anci, K. D., & Rosenburg, I. H. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. Nutr Rev.,68(8), 439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
  3. Engelhaupt, E. (2018, April 6). Fact or Fiction: Can You Really Sweat Out Toxins? National Geographic.
  4. Genius, S. J., Beesoon, S., Lobo, R. A., & Birkholz, D. (2012). Human Excretion of Bisphenol A: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study. J Environ Public Health. doi:10.1155/2012/185731
Complications of Hyperhidrosis

What Your Body Loses When it Sweats

By Katie Crissman /

What Sweat Is Made Of

In order to know what your body loses when it sweats it is important to first understand what sweat is made of. There are two types of sweat glands in the human body: eccrine and apocrine glands. Both produce sweat with a different chemical composition. Eccrine glands tend to produce sweat that is clear, odorless, and composed of primarily water. The sweat from eccrine glands also contains waste products from the blood like sodium chloride, urea, uric acid, proteins and immunoglobulins. Apocrine glands are only located on specific parts of the body, like the groin and armpit, and they produce sweat that is thicker, yellowish, and which has an odor. The sweat produced by apocrine glands also contains proteins and fatty acids. Typically, when people worry about losing nutrients from sweat they are concerned with the sweat that is being produced by the eccrine glands. Eccrine glands are located all over the body and they are the sweat glands that are activated by an increase in body temperature.[1]

The Biggest Things Your Body Loses When You Sweat

The biggest thing the body loses when it sweats is water. In fact, over 99% of sweat is made up of water.[2] When someone is sweating excessively the biggest thing they need to worry about is dehydration due to water loss. This most often happens due to a combination of high environmental temperatures, exercise, and the type of clothing a person is wearing which are factors related to why humans sweat. Excessive sweating that leads to dehydration can also lead to the loss of necessary electrolytes and a low plasma level in blood.[3] Electrolytes are essentially salts like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium chloride (table salt) that the body needs to maintain water movement in and out of cells and to spark nerve impulses throughout the body. This is also why people are often left with a salty taste on their skin when the sweat a lot. To battle electrolyte imbalances from sweat loss people are encouraged the drink plenty of fluids that contain electrolytes (think Pedialyte or Gatorade) to replenish their body’s supply. One study found that men exposed to temperatures of 100 degrees or higher for a period of 7.5 hours lost relatively high concentrations of of not only potassium, magnesium, and sodium, but also iron. This suggests that mineral imbalances from sweat loss are more extensive than researchers previously thought.[4] Electrolytes are certain types of minerals that the body loses in sweat, but what about vitamins?

While electrolytes are the most well-known micronutrients affected by sweat loss, vitamin concentrations within the body can also be impacted. Researchers looking at the effects of excessive sweat loss are generally most interested in water soluble vitamins, as they are most likely to be carried in sweat. One study of factory workers exposed to high temperatures found that they had especially high losses of vitamin C related to sweat loss. Other vitamins that the study looked at, but that appeared to be less impacted by sweat loss, included B1 and B2. People who are experiencing excessive sweat loss, for whatever reason, should strive to combat potential deficiencies of micronutrients by including more of them in their diet. Micronutrients (other than vitamin D) cannot be made by the body, so they need to be supplied by diet.[5]

Hyperhidrosis and Sweat Loss

While hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes a person to sweat excessively, is distressing and physically uncomfortable, it is generally not dangerous. People with hyperhidrosis often sweat much more than is needed by the body, but typically not enough to deplete nutrients and cause a physiological crisis.[6] However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for people with hyperhidrosis to regularly replenish micronutrients in an effort to maintain optimal health.

Sources
  1. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science.
  2. Festa, J. (2015, July/August). 20 Things You Didn't Know About... Sweat. Discover.
  3. Popkin, B. M., D'anci, K. D., & Rosenburg, I. H. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. Nutr Rev.,68(8), 439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
  4. Consolazio, C. F., Matoush, L. O., Nelson, R. A., Harding, R. S., & Canham, J. E. (1969). Excretion of Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Iron in Human Sweat and the Relation of Each to Balance and Requirements. The Journal of Nutrition, 79(4), 407-415. Retrieved February 28, 2019, from https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/79.4.407.
  5. Tang, Y. M., Wang, D., Li, J., Li, X., Liu, N., Liu, W., & Li, Y. (2016). Relationships between micronutrient losses in sweat and blood pressure among heat-exposed steelworkers. Ind Health,54(3), 215-223. doi:10.2486/indhealth.2014-0225
  6. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
Antiperspirant

Is Antiperspirant Safe or Bad for You?

By Katie Crissman /

There has been a lot of controversy concerning the safety of antiperspirant in the last several decades. It has been found, however, that antiperspirant is safe to use. In fact, antiperspirant is considered to be an over-the-counter drug and is therefore regulated by the FDA. This means that antiperspirant, and the active ingredients in it, have been studied fairly extensively. In the last thirty years there have been many studies attempting to find a link between antiperspirant use and cancer but so far no links have been found.

How Antiperspirant Works and Why It’s Safe

Antiperspirants contain an active ingredient that is able to reduce sweat production. For people who suffer from hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes sweat glands to be overactive, this is imperative. Most antiperspirant formulations use some type of metallic salt, like aluminum chloride or aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, to mechanically block sweat from reaching the surface of the skin. When a person applies antiperspirant it covers the tops of their sweat glands and remains inactive until they begin to sweat. Once perspiration begins mixing with antiperspirant a chemical reaction occurs inside each sweat gland. This chemical reaction causes the formation of a precipitate salt which then forms a shallow plug within the sweat glands. These plugs block sweat from leaving sweat glands and thus reduce perspiration. While antiperspirants do interact with chemicals in the body, they work superficially on the skin which makes them a safe option. This also makes them less likely to cause severe side effects. Antiperspirants are actually the first-line treatment for hyperhidrosis as they are widely available, work locally, and are known to be safe.[1]

Common Concerns About Antiperspirant

Over the years there have been many rumors about the dangers of antiperspirant. One of the most controversial claims was that the aluminum in antiperspirants can cause cancer. The claim asserted that the body absorbs the aluminum in antiperspirants through the skin and that the absorbed aluminum can cause the growth of breast cancer cells. The body does absorb some of the aluminum in antiperspirant, but not enough to cause an issue. One study found that only .01% to .06% of the aluminum in antiperspirant was absorbed by the body. So far, no specific studies, epidemiological or otherwise, have been able to show that aluminum antiperspirants cause cancer. There is some speculation that aluminum can cause changes to occur within some animal cells, but this has not been sufficiently studied. Overall, it is thought that antiperspirants are safe but that it would be beneficial to conduct more specific studies.[1]

Aluminum, when taken in high enough amounts, is known to cause other health issues like Alzheimer's disease and worsen kidney failure. Many question whether aluminum exposure from antiperspirants is high enough to promote these problems, but that is extremely doubtful. Problems like Alzheimer's disease and kidney failure occur when someone is exposed to a very high amount of aluminum, and this doesn’t happen from antiperspirant use. Antiperspirants do no contain enough aluminum for this to happen and the skin creates an effective barrier against the aluminum that is in antiperspirant. The FDA does advise people with end stage kidney disease to speak with their doctor before using antiperspirant, but it is most likely not an issue.[1]

It is reassuring to hear that organizations like The Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer society, and the National Cancer Institute have issued statements saying that there is no known association between aluminum, cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease.[1]

The Damage Antiperspirant Can Do

While it is fairly safe to say that antiperspirant does not cause cancer, it can cause some other side effects. Luckily, these are mild and easy to treat. The most common side effect of antiperspirant is irritation. People often feel itching or stinging, especially when they first apply antiperspirant. When this occurs, patients are told to use 1% hydrocortisone cream to treat the irritation. If this doesn't work they are often switched to a different type of antiperspirant or advised on different treatment options.[1] Recently, studies have demonstrated that antiperspirant affects the microbiome on the surface of the skin. It has been noted that people who use antiperspirant and deodorant products have a larger variety of bacteria that differs from the type of bacteria other people have. However, it hasn’t yet been determined whether this is detrimental.[3]

Overall, antiperspirants are usually more dangerous to clothing than they are to people. It can be tough to get antiperspirant out of clothing. In all seriousness antiperspirants are a very safe treatment option for those with hyperhidrosis. There are some potential problems that need to be studied, but the vast majority of people tolerate antiperspirants well.

Sources
  1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
  2. Klotz, K., Weistenhöfer, W., Neff, F., Hartwig, A., Van Thriel, C., & Drexler, H. (2017). The Health Effects of Aluminum Exposure. Dtsch Arztebl Int., 114(39), 653-659. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2017.0653
  3. Urban, J., Fergus, D. J., Savage, A. M., Ehlers, M., Menniger, H. L., Dunn, R. R., & Horvath, J. E. (2016). The effect of habitual and experimental antiperspirant and deodorant product use on the armpit microbiome. Peer J, 4. doi:10.7717/peerj.1605
Complications of Hyperhidrosis

What Is the Best Sock Material for Sweaty Feet?

By Katie Crissman /

Don't let sweaty feet get in the way!

The easiest thing you can do to protect your sweaty feet is to invest in the right type of socks!

The skin on the feet is densely covered by (eccrine) sweat glands which is why feet can become so ridiculously sweaty.

To make matters worse, the bottom of the foot actually has more sweat glands than the top, so sweaty feet can affect a person’s ability to walk comfortably.[1]

Types of Socks for Sweaty Feet

The type of material a sock is made from determines how well it will be able to withstand and mitigate intense sweating. 

FIRST UP - DITCH THE COTTON! 

Cotton is the most common type of sock material. However, you shouldn’t wear cotton socks if you have sweaty feet!

Cotton is a natural fiber that is very absorbent. It holds on to moisture!

CHOOSE: 

Wool 

  • Wool is a natural fiber, like cotton, but it is able to keep feet dry while absorbing sweat.
  • Wool has antibacterial properties that can inhibit the growth of bacteria - the cause of another sweat condition, called bromhidrosis, that causes stinky sweat.
  • Merino wool is a good choice of material for socks as it is less scratchy than regular wool but it still has water resistant and moisture wicking properties.
  • One study looked at the impact sock material had on foot health and found that out of wool, cotton, and acrylic fibers wool had the best impact on foot health.[1]

Polyester Blends (synthetic fabrics)

  • Synthetic fabrics that use modern moisture wicking technology are a great option for people with sweaty feet.
  • Polyester is quick to dry, durable, and easy to clean.
  • It’s breathable compared to other synthetic fabrics like nylon.
  • Polyester is even better at handling sweat when mixed with other synthetic fabrics.
  • Several brands, including Nike, use a polyester blend for their athletic socks which are advertised as being moisture wicking.

Synthetic Fabrics made for Sweaty Feet

  • Coolmax is a newly formulated polyester blend that was specifically made with sweaty feet in mind. 
  • Olefin is a completely new type of synthetic material that was designed to deal with high volumes of sweat.

Scientists have also figured out how to make these synthetic fibers antibacterial so they also keep bacteria to a minimum. Many of the socks that are marketed towards people with sweaty feet are made of one of these synthetic fiber blends.

    Remember, the most important aspect of sock material is that it’s able to keep moisture away from your skin so that feet aren't damaged by damp conditions.

    Curious about treatments for sweaty feet? There are many things you can do to manage your sweat and stay dry.

     You can also try applying antiperspirant, like Carpe’s antiperspirant lotion for feet, to reduce the amount of sweat your feet produce.

    Sources
    1. Laing, R. M., Wilson, C. A., Dunn, L. A., & Niven, B. E. (2015). Detection of fiber effects on skin health of the human foot. Textile Research Journal, 85(17), 1849-1863. Retrieved December 3, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272748005_Detection_of_fiber_effects_on_skin_health_of_the_human_foot 
    2. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/books/hyperhidrosis-an-issue-of-dermatologic-clinics/pariser/978-0-323-32607-0
    Complications of Hyperhidrosis

    Is Hyperhidrosis Bad for Your Health?

    By Katie Crissman /

    Hyperhidrosis causes the body to sweat in excess of what it needs for thermoregulation, which means that the body is generating more sweat to regulate its internal temperature than is needed. Luckily, the excessive sweating caused by hyperhidrosis is not dangerous to your physical health. However, dealing with hyperhidrosis symptoms can be emotionally damaging and, in some cases, hyperhidrosis can be a sign of something more sinister.

    When Hyperhidrosis Indicates a Serious Health Problem

    How you get hyperhidrosis often indicates whether it is indicative of a deeper issue. If you suddenly develop symptoms of hyperhidrosis after the age of 25, your sweating occurs mainly at night, and you sweat all over your body you may have secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. This type of hyperhidrosis can indicate an underlying health issue as some diseases and conditions can cause secondary hyperhidrosis. Some of the diseases that cause diaphoresis (sudden, unexplained excessive sweating) can also cause pallor and other symptoms to appear at the same time. These disesases include certain cancers, tuberculosis, HIV, hyperthyroidism, and several others. These diseases are certainly bad for your health, so anyone who suddenly begins experiencing excessive sweating in adulthood should manage their hyperhidrosis with a doctor. However, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is most commonly caused by a medication or drug side effect and it can be caused by benign health conditions, so don’t panic. If hyperhidrosis develops between the ages of 14 and 25 and only affects specific areas of your body, you probably have primary focal hyperhidrosis.[1]

    The Effects of Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis That Take a Toll on Your Health

    Most people with hyperhidrosis, 93% according to one medical review, have primary focal hyperhidrosis. This type usually begins during the teenage years or in very early adulthood and it is a lifelong condition. People with this type of hyperhidrosis have excessive sweating on particular parts of their body which most often includes the hands, feet, underarms, and face. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is not bad for your physical health directly, but it can be detrimental to your emotional wellbeing. Hyperhidrosis and anxiety often occur together because of the socially stigmatizing effect hyperhidrosis has on people. In fact, people with primary focal hyperhidrosis report that is causes issues in their interpersonal relationships, leisure activities, personal hygiene, work, and self-esteem. When someone struggles emotionally, or feels significantly stressed out, it can have a profound effect on their body as well as their mind. Stress sweating can make these problems even more pronounced, as it causes a cycle where someone is stressed, they sweat more as a result, and become even more stressed.[1]

    Most impairments caused by hyperhidrosis relate to the body regions that are affected. For example, someone with palmar (hand) hyperhidrosis may feel extreme embarrassment when shaking another person’s hand. The issues become even more tangible when someone with palmar hyperhidrosis drops something made of glass or sustains electrical shocks when using electronics because they are sweating so profusely. People with axillary hyperhidrosis are often restricted in the type of clothing they can comfortably wear. When someone has plantar hyperhidrosis they may even develop skin infections or athlete’s foot when wearing socks or shoes that are constricting for a long period of time. These are all examples of ways that hyperhidrosis makes life difficult for someone with hyperhidrosis, and these struggles can greatly impact quality of life. It can be so devastating that some patients resort to surgery to treat primary focal hyperhidrosis called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. Thankfully, many patients are able to obtain a better quality of life after receiving treatment. There is no cure for hyperhidrosis, but there are effective treatments for sweaty hands, sweaty feet, and treatments for axillary hyperhidrosis. Antiperspirant is usually the first-line treatment for hyperhidrosis, but some people have had conerns about whether antiperspirant is safe. There is no point in persuing a treatment that is detrimental to your health but, luckily, no studies have found that antiperspirants are dangerous to use.[1]

    If you have hyperhidrosis, you can improve your quality of life and improve your health by learning how to manage your hyperhidrosis. You don’t have to let hyperhidrosis dictate how healthy you are emotionally or physically.

    Sources
    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    Antiperspirant

    How To Get Pit Stains out of Polyester

    By Katie Crissman /

    Do you have polyester pit stain problems? Read on to learn how to get rid of pit stains in polyester so that you can enjoy your favorite clothes instead of struggling with sweat stains!

    The excessive sweating that comes along with hyperhidrosis can be hard on clothes. In fact, people who have axillary hyperhidrosis often report that soaking, staining, and soiling clothing is one of the hardest parts of hyperhidrosis they have to deal with.[1] This comes into play big time when it comes to polyester.

    There are certain types of clothing that are better for people who sweat excessively, and polyester is not one of them. This is because polyester is water resistant which means it won’t absorb sweat. When sweat has nowhere else to go it builds up underneath clothing which can cause discomfort and skin irritation. This applies to polyester blended to natural fibers too. Polyester has some great qualities, as it is durable and hard to wrinkle, but people with hyperhidrosis need to weigh the benefits with the potential drawbacks.

    For those times that you do choose to wear polyester, there are ways to make sure that armpit stains aren’t permanent. Here is how to get rid of sweat stains in polyester:

    1. Turn the shirt inside out so you can see the stain. Pour laundry detergent (full strength) onto the stain. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
    2. Put the shirt in the washing machine like you normally would. When the wash is done look at the shirt. If the stain is gone, put it in the dryer and you are done. If the stain is still present then air dry the shirt. Don’t put it in the dryer as this will set the stain.
    3. To get a stubborn stain out mix: half a cup of water and a tablespoon of white vinegar.
    4. Apply this mixture to the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then wash the shirt in cold water and air dry.

    It is important to note that the sooner you treat a stain the easier it will be to remove it. This method should help you get a basic sweat stain out of a polyester shirt, but some stains are stubborn. If this is the case then you may need to be a little more creative in your use of vinegar. Here is how to get rid of pit stains that are stubborn:

    1. Mix vinegar with crushed up aspirin and make a paste. Turn the shirt inside out and apply the paste directly to the stain.
    2. Let the shirt sit for a few hours so the paste can sink in.
    3. Run the shirt through the washing machine and use cold water.
    4. Before putting the shirt in the dryer inspect the stain. If it is gone, put it in the dryer. If the shirt is still stained then try another method.

    If your shirt is still stained after using both of these stain removal methods then you could try another method to get rid of armpit stains, but it may be hard to get rid of. Make sure you don’t put the shirt in the dryer if you plan on trying other options as this will set the stain into the shirt and make it almost impossible to remove.

    If you struggle with armpit stains you may also have issues with antiperspirant. There are effective ways to get rid of antiperspirant stains on clothes, as well as ways to remove antiperspirant from skin. Antiperspirant can control sweating and improve symptoms of hyperhidrosis, but it has its downsides.

    It’s important to know how to get rid of sweat stains when you sweat frequently. Don’t let stains hold you back! There are many ways to get rid of them, and they don’t have to be a constant source of stress.

    Sources
    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Amsterdam: Elsevier Pub. Co., 2014. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/books/hyperhidrosis-an-issue-of-dermatologic-clinics/pariser/978-0-323-32607-0
    2. Out, Out, Pesky Sweat Stains. (2011, May 11). Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703859304576305372447004628
    3. A novel washing algorithm for underarm stain removal. (2017). IOP Conf. Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 254. doi:10.1088/1757-899X/254/8/082001. Retreived from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320940190_A_novel_washing_algorithm_for_underarm_stain_removal
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