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SWEATOPEDIA

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

Body Areas Affected by Hyperhidrosis

How Can I Control Foot Sweat?

By Chris Reid /

Excessively sweaty feet can lead to some big problems. Some people just have mildly sweaty feet, but others find that sweaty feet greatly impact their quality of life. This is often the case for people who have primary focal hyperhidrosis, a condition in which people sweat excessively from specific parts of the body - including the feet. Many people with sweaty feet struggle with staining and destroying shoes, have difficulty wearing sandals and flip flops, have trouble walking barefoot, and constantly need to wear absorbent socks. Even worse, people whose feet are constantly exposed to moisture are at risk for foot conditions like Athlete’s foot, skin maceration, infections, and irritation. This is why it is imperative for people with excessively sweaty feet to find a way to kick their sweat and get control of the problem.[1]

Natural Ways to Manage Sweaty Feet

Sometimes excessive foot sweating can be managed with natural methods and lifestyle changes. There are some practical things you can do, which won’t reduce the amount you sweat, but will help you to manage things better and prevent some of the complications that come along with sweaty feet. Here are some things you can do to manage your sweaty situation:

  • Wash your feet frequently. While washing your feet won’t stop you from sweating, it will reduce your risk of infection, keep skin from getting irritated, prevent odor build up, and prevent bacterial growth. Ideally, you should aim to wash your feet twice a day if you have been sweating in your shoes for an extended period of time. It is also beneficial to use certain products while you wash your feet. These can include antifungal products, certain essential oils, epsom salt to soothe feet, and of course, soap.
  • Soak your feet is a black tea bath. It is suggested that you fill a basin with warm water and add two tea bags to soak your feet in. It is thought that the tannins in black tea affect your sweat glands in such a way that it stops them from producing as much sweat. This method isn’t scientifically tested, but it may be worth a try!
  • Wear the right socks and shoes. Certain sock materials are good for sweaty feet, while others are not. For example, it is a good idea to avoid cotton socks, while materials like merino wool and athletic socks with moisture wicking technology are better for keeping sweat away from the skin. The material your shoes are made of are also important, leather or mesh athletic shoes are best as they allow your feet to breathe.
  • Alternate your shoes and change socks often. It might be worth it to invest in two pairs of shoes that you can alternate every other day. This allows each pair to dry completely before you get them wet again, it will also prevent shoe damage and break down from being as severe. It is also a good idea to keep an extra pair of socks with you and to change your socks any time your feet become completely soaked. This will keep your feet and skin healthier.[2]
  • Over-the-Counter Treatment Options

    One of the most helpful tools for people with sweaty feet are over-the-counter products. Over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis called antiperspirants are the most essential. Antiperspirant is the first-line treatment doctors recommend for hyperhidrosis because they treat the problem at a local area and they effectively prevent sweat glands from producing sweat. Many people have success with over-the-counter antiperspirants, but antiperspirant is available by prescription if a higher strength is needed.[1] There is also a type of soothing treatment called foot powder. Foot powder is a powder that you apply to dry feet which absorbs excessive sweat and soothes irritated skin. When used in combination antiperspirant and foot powder can bring much relief. Finally, antifungal powder is suggested if you think you may have athlete’s foot.[2]

    Medical Treatments for Sweaty Feet

    For some people, especially those with hyperhidrosis, lifestyle adjustments and over-the-counter options might not be enough to control their foot sweat. Luckily, there are several effective medical treatment options available. Most doctors suggest that patients try over-the-counter and prescription antiperspirants before moving on to more intensive treatments. Once a patient has exhausted these options, however, doctors have many options that they can try in order to eliminate foot sweating and to improve patients quality of life. Here is a breakdown of the available treatments, from minimally invasive techniques to highly intense surgical procedures:

  • Iontophoresis: Iontophoresis is a type of therapy that uses the passing of an ionized substance through intact skin by application of a direct electrical current to stop the body from producing as much sweat. While this sounds complicated, the procedure is quite simple and it doesn’t hurt the patient. Iontophoresis is used to treat palmar (hand) and plantar (foot) hyperhidrosis and is one of the least invasive hyperhidrosis treatments available. When used to treat sweaty feet, a patients is given two trays of water to place their feet in which are connected by electrical wires. A machine pulses small electrical currents through the water and through the skin of the patient’s feet which greatly reduces the amount of sweat they will produce. The procedure needs to be repeated a few times a week to maintain results. Iontophoresis has been found to be highly effective and many people use it as a part of their weekly routine.
  • Botox Injections: Botox injections can reduce the skin’s ability to produce sweat and they have been approved as a treatment for axillary hyperhidrosis by the FDA. While botox is not specifically approved for the treatment of plantar hyperhidrosis, many people have had a significant reduction in symptoms when it is used. Typically, a doctor will assess the problem area, in this case that would be the feet, and then inject botox into the skin in a grid like pattern. The results from botox injections will usually last for several months making it a convenient treatment method.
  • Oral Medications: There are oral medications that can reduce the amount of sweat people produce, however none of them are specifically approved by the FDA for the treatment of hyperhidrosis. Most of the time doctors recommend that patients receive local treatment whenever possible, but medication can be useful for certain patients. Anticholinergics are the most common type of medication that doctors prescribe for people with hyperhidrosis, these include medicines like glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin. Sometimes, other types of medications are used like beta blockers, anti anxiety medications, and clonidine.
  • Surgery: A type of surgery to treat sweaty feet called endoscopic lumbar sympathectomy is available. However, it is almost never recommended because the side effects from the surgery can be catastrophic. If you are sweating to the point where you are considering this type of surgery it is best to try the other available treatments or combinations of those treatments rather than undergoing a risky procedure. While it is similar to endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, the risks are much higher.[1]
  • Sources
    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier
    2. Leonard, J. (n.d.). What causes feet sweating? Retrieved June 3, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322578.php
    Antiperspirant

    How to Get Rid of Body Odor from Sweating

    By Chris Reid /

    Body odor has plagued people for thousands of years. In fact, soap was invented by the Phoenicians in 600 B.C. and ancient Egyptians are known to have bathed in perfumed water in an attempt to figure out how to get rid of their body odor![1] Luckily, these days we know how to stop body odor from becoming a problem. First, it’s important to understand how sweat causes body odor in the first place.

    How Sweat Causes Body Odor

    Humans have two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine.[2]

    Eccrine glands cover most of the skin’s surface and are used to maintain thermoregulation (the body’s temperature) by cooling the body in times of high heat. They produce sweat that is initially clear and odorless.[2]

    Apocrine glands, on the other hand, are larger than eccrine glands and are located within hair follicles. They only appear on the armpits, groin, and areolas. Apocrine glands produce sweat that is thicker and yellowish. The sweat from apocrine glands is most often associated with body odor. This is because it is made up of fatty acids and proteins that bacteria on the skin metabolize.[2]

    The byproducts that bacteria create - the things that bacteria break sweat down into (like isovaleric acid and androsterone) - give off a strong, unpleasant smell that we recognize as body odor.[2]

    Some people have conditions that make them sweat excessively or have especially stinky sweat that make dealing with sweat and body odor even more difficult. Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes people to sweat in excess of what is needed by the body for thermoregulation.[2]

    Depending on the type of hyperhidrosis they have, a person may sweat excessively from certain areas of the body at random times (primary focal hyperhidrosis) or they may sweat all over (secondary generalized hyperhidrosis). Unfortunately, because people with hyperhidrosis produce so much sweat they also tend to struggle with the odor it can cause.

    When someone has especially stinky sweat it is referred to as bromhidrosis. People with bromhidrosis have body odor that is significantly worse than the average person and it can be socially isolating. However, people with hyperhidrosis and bromhidrosis can learn how to stop body odor by using treatments to control their sweat.[3][4]

    How to Get Rid of Body Odor Caused by Sweat

    There are several ways to stop the sweat. The most important, and most obvious, way we know how to stop body odor is to prevent it by having good basic hygiene. This means showering once a day, changing clothes every morning or after sweating significantly, and applying antiperspirant and deodorant as needed. Removing the bacteria and sweat from your skin prevents body odor from forming in the first place. Unfortunately, in the real world people don’t always have time to wash up every time they sweat a little bit, which is where the use of antiperspirant and deodorant come into play.

    Antiperspirant and Deodorant

    Many people do not realize what antiperspirant is and how it differs from deodorant. Antiperspirants are agents that can be applied to the skin which prevent the production of sweat. They are considered to be the first line treatment for people with hyperhidrosis and can be extremely helpful for anyone who deals with sweat and stink on a regular basis. Antiperspirant is one of the best ways we know how to get rid of body odor.[3]

    When it comes to choosing the right over-the-counter antiperspirant there are a lot of options. There are several companies like Carpe, Dove, SweatBlock, Certain Dri, and many more that offer options with different active ingredients and in different applicators. The FDA regulates the active ingredients in antiperspirant as it is considered to be a drug. There are different active ingredients, but most antiperspirants use some type of metallic salt to plug sweat glands and prevent sweat production.[3]

    Most of the time antiperspirant comes in a stick, spray, or gel form which can be applied to the body. Some companies, like Carpe and SweatBlock, also sell antiperspirant lotions and wipes that can be especially helpful for those who struggle with sweaty hands and feet.

    Deodorant is different from antiperspirant because it is made to mask any odors that are already present and kill bacteria on the skin to prevent them from producing more odor. There is no one best deodorant, but often combination products that contain both antiperspirant and deodorant are the most effective when combating body odor. Combination products are called antiperspirant deodorants.[4]

    Other Treatments

    Aside from maintaining good hygiene and using antiperspirant and deodorant products, there are a few things you can do to get rid of body odor caused by sweat. One other simple adjustment you can make is to wear fibers that are breathable, like organic cotton, or moisture wicking. There are some specific types of clothes that are best for people who struggle with excessive sweating. Finally, if all else fails, there are some medical treatments you could pursue.

    A visit to your local dermatologist will give you a sense of how to get rid of body odor using medical treatments, but here are a few ideas you can consider. If you struggle with excessive underarm sweating and smell you could try a local permanent procedure for axillary hyperhidrosis that stops your sweat glands in that area from being able to produce sweat. One example of this type of procedure is MiraDry. There are also prescription antiperspirants and antiperspirant wipes, called Qbrexza, that can help. There are many ways to manage sweat with and body odor with a doctor.

    If you are struggling with sweat and body odor don’t give up because there are lots of treatments out there. Don’t let sweat be a drain on your life - you can fix it!

    Sources
    1. Ramirez, A. (1990, August). All About/Deodorants; The Success of Sweet Smell. Late Edition. Retrieved March 7, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/12/business/all-about-deodorants-the-success-of-sweet-smell.html
    2. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science. Retrieved from https://www.bookdepository.com/Hyperhidrosis-Janine-R-Huddle/9781633215160
    3. 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
    4. Eshini, P., & Sinclair, R. (2013). Hyperhidrosis and bromhidrosis: A guide to assessment and management. Australian Family Physician, 42(5), 266-269. Retrieved March 7, 2019, from https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2013/may/hyperhidrosis-and-bromhidrosis/
    Body Areas Affected by Hyperhidrosis

    Upper Lip Sweat

    By Katie Crissman /

    Many people struggle with upper lip sweat.

    While there are multiple reasons for this issue, the most common reason people sweat on from their face is because they have a condition called primary focal hyperhidrosis.

    Primary focal hyperhidrosis (PFH) is a condition that causes people to sweat excessively from specific areas of the body including the hands, feet, armpits, and face.[1]

    Excessive facial sweating is often referred to as craniofacial hyperhidrosis and this type of hyperhidrosis often affects various parts of the face and scalp, including the upper lip area.

    Luckily, there are several treatments that people can try to reduce upper lip sweating and improve their quality of life.[1]

    Causes of Excessive Upper Lip Sweating

    It is important to distinguish why someone has an issue with excessive upper lip sweat because the type of treatment a person receives will depend on the cause of their sweating.

    Unlike primary focal hyperhidrosis, which doesn’t have a well understood cause, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is caused by a specific underlying medical condition or medication.

    Certain diseases and conditions cause secondary hyperhidrosis including hyperthyroidism, some cancers, HIV, some infections like tuberculosis, and several others.

    Secondary hyperhidrosis can also be caused by medicines like antidepressants, painkillers, hypoglycemic agents, and many of types of medicines. 

    In some rare cases, upper lip sweating can be caused by a type of hyperhidrosis called gustatory hyperhidrosis.

    Gustatory sweating is occurs when people eat certain foods which makes them flush and sweat profusely from the face.

    This type of sweating is very uncommon, but it should be considered if facial sweating occurs only when eating or thinking about food. Most of the time gustatory sweating is caused by an injury or damage to the parotid gland.[1]

    Treatments for Upper Lip Sweating

    If you are struggling with upper lip sweat caused by primary focal hyperhidrosis then there are several ways to manage your symptoms.

    Antiperspirant: There are some antiperspirants for places like the face and groin that have sensitive skin and it may be beneficial to try these products before moving on to more intensive options.[1]

    1% topical hydrocortisone cream can greatly reduce irritation caused by antiperspirants when used on the face.[3]

    Anticholinergic medications can be applied topically or taken in a pill form. This type of medication stops the body from producing sweat and is often used once local therapies have failed.

    Topical formulations of anticholinergic medications have the benefit that they cause less side effects than when the pill form is taken.

    Oral anticholinergics can cause systemic side effects and the benefits need to be weighed against the risks. For people with intense facial and upper lip sweating medications can provide much needed relief.[3]

    Botox offers another great option for treating craniofacial hyperhidrosis and it can be used to treat specific areas like the upper lip.

    The FDA has approved botox for the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis, but it has been used with promising efficacy in patients with craniofacial hyperhidrosis.

    Unfortunately, complications can arise and muscles in the face can be weakened by botox exposure.

    This is why it is imperative to consult an experienced doctor and know the risks before undergoing any type of procedure.

    When upper lip sweating is treated by botox there is also a risk that patients may experience pursing of the lips or a change in speech patterns which are temporary side effects, but which can be serious. It is relatively uncommon for patients to experience side effects from the procedure and many get great results that allow them to live without symptoms for months at a time.[1]

    Surgery. If patients have severe upper lip sweating and haven’t responded to any other treatments, there is a type of surgery that may be able to improve symptoms. 

    This type of surgery is called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy and it is typically used to relieve the symptoms of palmar hyperhidrosis. It has been found to be effective in people with craniofacial sweating, but should be used as a last result as it is an intensive and invasive procedure. Unfortunately, a side effect of the surgery called compensatory sweating may limit how beneficial the surgery is in terms of improving a person’s quality of life.[3]

    If you suffer from excessive upper lip sweat, it is important to find a way to manage your symptoms. There are effective treatments and they often greatly improve patient's quality of life.

    Sources
    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier
    2. Nicholas, R., Quddus, A., & Baker, D. M. (2015). Treatment of Primary Craniofacial Hyperhidrosis: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 16(5), 361-370. doi:10.1007/s40257-015-0136-6
    3. Craniofacial hyperhidrosis can usually be managed pharmacologically, but surgery may sometimes be needed. (2016). . Drugs & Therapy Perspectives, 32(5), 191-194. doi:10.1007/s40267-016-0282-9
    Body Areas Affected by Hyperhidrosis

    How to Stop Excessive Foot Sweating

    By Katie Crissman /

    While there is no exact standard as to how much foot sweat is too much in a 24 hour period, there are ways to determine whether you are sweating in excess of what is normal or not. It is normal to sweat from your feet during periods of intense activity and when exposed to high heat. However, many people struggle with a condition called hyperhidrosis which causes causes them to sweat excessively. Hyperhidrosis is defined as sweating that is in excess of what the body needs for thermoregulation. Typically, people sweat in order to cool down their body temperature, but when someone sweats so much that it is no longer serving this function it is considered to be excessive.[1]

    There are two main types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Both types can cause someone to have excessively sweaty feet, but primary focal hyperhidrosis is more likely to affect the feet. Primary focal hyperhidrosis causes excessive sweating on specific parts of the body like the hands, feet, armpits, face, and head. According to a retrospective chart review published in the Journal of Dermatologic Clinics, about 25% of people with hyperhidrosis have palmar (hand) and plantar (foot) involvement while only 15.5% of people have hyperhidrosis that only affects their feet. Even though that seems like a relatively small number of people, about 2.8% of the US population has hyperhidrosis so it is relatively high number of people who are affected.[1]

    If you aren’t sure whether or not your foot sweating is excessive, there are certain signs that can alert you to whether or not you might have hyperhidrosis. People with hyperhidrosis can sweat up to four times more than the average person and this can have a negative on their quality of life.[2] Here are some ways that excessively sweaty feet may interfere with your life if you have a problem:

  • Your shoes are consistently soaked, stained, or destroyed by your constant production of sweat.
  • You have difficulties wearing flip flops, sandals, and slippers because the sweat on your feet causes them to be slippery.
  • You struggle to walk around barefoot because your feet are so wet.
  • You need to wear especially absorbent socks in order to keep your feet and shoes dry.
  • Your feet are often cold because of the constant presence of sweat.[1]
  • If you sweat so much from your feet that you are experiencing some or many of the symptoms listed above, you are probably sweating in excess of what is normal. Another way to determine whether you are sweating too much from your feet is to determine how it is affecting your life. If you think about your sweating frequently and often change your behaviors to deal with it, then you are probably sweating more than the average person. For example, if you refuse to wear flip flops because you know they won’t stay on your feet because of sweating, then you are sweating too much.[2]

    If you suspect that you have hyperhidrosis then it is a good idea to speak with a dermatologist, as the are the best type of doctors to treat hyperhidrosis. Doctors have several tools to measure whether you have hyperhidrosis. Most of the time, doctors will administer a type of questionnaire that asseses how much sweating is impacting a person’s life. One of these questionnaires is called the Hyperhidrosis Disease Severity Scale (HDSS). This questionnaire has patients rank their symptoms on a scale from 1 to 4, with higher scores corresponding to more severe symptoms. Doctors also use other types of self-reporting questionnaires to determine whether or not a patient has hyperhidrosis and to determine how severe it is.[1]

    There are also other types of tests that doctors can use to determine how much you are sweating, but they are not normally needed to assess whether or not someone has hyperhidrosis. These types of tests include the iodine-starch test, skin conductance, and a thermoregulatory sweat test.[3] An iodine starch test can be used to outline the area where excessive sweating is occuring. In this test an iodine solution is spread over the area in question and a few minutes later starch powder is sprinkled over the area. The starch and iodine interact in the presence of sweat and create a purplish color. This can tell the doctor how much a person is sweating and where the specific problem is. It also allows doctors to determine whether hyperhidrosis treatments, like botox injections, are working or not.[4] Skin conductance tests and thermoregulatory tests are not typically needed for a hyperhidrosis diagnosis, but they can help to determine how much sweat a person is producing.

    If you do find that you sweat more from your feet than is normal, there are many treatments for sweaty feet that you can look into. Treatments for hyperhidrosis tend to be quite effective, so talk to a doctor if your sweaty feet are getting you down.

    Sources
    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier
    2. Nguyen, A. (n.d.). How Much Sweating Is Excessive? Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/how-much-sweat-is-normal#1
    3. Hyperhidrosis. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperhidrosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20367173
    4. Haider, A., & Solish, N. (2005). Focal hyperhidrosis: Diagnosis and management. CMAJ, 172(1), 69-75. Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC543948/
    Lifestyle

    Can I Cool my Body by Wiping Sweat off?

    By Katie Crissman /

    The answer is “no” - you can’t cool your body off by wiping your sweat away. In order to understand why this is let’s take a look at how sweat removes body heat in the first place.

    Sweating aids the body in maintaining its internal temperature, this process is known as thermoregulation. This means that sweat works with body temperature in a way that cools the body down. No other automatic physiological processes are able to cool the body down which makes sweating vital to human survival, especially in climates that get hot. Sweat is primarily produced by eccrine sweat glands which cover almost the entire surface of the skin. The body uses as much surface area as possible to maximize its ability to get rid of excess heat.[1]

    Before the body initiates sweating, specialized cells in the skin called thermoreceptors sense what the temperature is. When these cells begin to sense that the body is too hot they send a message to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus through the central nervous system. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls thermoregulation and is in charge of turning on and off processes that maintain a constant internal temperature between 91.76 and 100.72 degrees fahrenheit. If the body’s temperature goes above 107.6 degrees fahrenheit cell toxicity occurs, DNA synthesis is stalled, and organ failure begins to occur. Once the hypothalamus is alerted that the body is too hot it activates sympathetic cholinergic fibers which are part of the sympathetic nervous system that activate eccrine sweat glands. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for activating the well-known “fight or flight” response.[2]

    Once the hypothalamus starts sending out messages vasodilation occurs, a process in which blood vessels expand. Vasodilation allows heat to escape the body more readily as it brings blood closer to the surface of the skin. Slightly after this occurs, eccrine sweat glands begin producing sweat by taking water and small amounts of waste from the blood. Once a sweat gland has filled with water it releases it onto the surface of the skin. Sweat is then evaporated off the body which allows heat to be transferred to the environment as water vapor from respiratory passages and the skin surface. Essentially, sweating allows the body to remove heat energy from the blood, which goes deep inside the body, to the outside of the body at a rapid pace.[2] Evaporation is an essential part of the process as it is key to the transfer of heat from a person’s body to the external environment. It is thought that each gram of sweat a person produces dissipates about 2,427 joules of energy from the body.[3]

    This is why wiping your sweat will not cool you off: you need evaporation to occur in order for the heat in sweat to be transferred into the environment. Evaporation pulls sweat out of the body when water droplets transfer into a gas form. Wiping sweat off the body does not have the same effect. In fact, wiping sweat off of your body will probably make it harder for the body to cool off because it is making the sweating process less effective. The body will have to produce more sweat to lower its body temperature because you are rendering the previous sweat useless when you wipe it off and less heat is transferred. This means that not only will wiping your sweat away make it harder for the body to cool itself, but it is also a good idea not to wipe off sweat when you exercise.[3]

    However, when someone has a condition like primary focal hyperhidrosis, which can cause sweating in excess of what the body needs for thermoregulation, wiping sweat can be beneficial.[4] If you are sweating so much that it is dripping down your body then evaporation will be hindered by the fact that sweat is pooling anyways. In this case, wiping your sweat off probably won’t make too much of a difference and it might make you feel significantly less irritated. People with excess body weight can also struggle with sweat evaporation. This is because the surface area of their skin has increased, but not the density of sweat glands they have. This means their bodies have to produce more sweat to make up for difference between the size of their body and the lower amount of sweat glands they have proportionally. People with an increased body size also need to sweat more because it takes more energy for them to move around. This makes them more likely to have sweat pool, less likely to cool off, and leaves them more prone to dehydration. People who sweat excessively, for any reason, need to make sure that they replenish what their body loses when it sweats by drinking water and replacing electrolytes.[3]

    Even though wiping your sweat away can hinder heat dissipation don’t worry if you really want to dry off. It will make your sweat less effective, but it won’t really hurt you either.

    Sources
    1. Shibasaki, M., & Crandall, C. G. (2010). Mechanisms and controllers of eccrine sweating in humans. Front Biosci (Schol Ed), 292-296. Retrieved May 7, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866164/.
    2. Tansey, E. A., & Johnson, C. D. (2015). Recent advances in thermoregulation. American Physiological Society. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/advan.00126.2014
    3. Palmer, B. (2012, June 22). Let Them See You Sweat. The Slate. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://slate.com/technology/2012/06/should-you-wipe-away-your-sweat-or-does-that-keep-you-from-cooling-down
    4. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    Lifestyle

    Should I Wipe off Sweat when I Exercise?

    By Katie Crissman /

    Before delving into why you should or should not wipe your sweat off after a workout it is important to understand why humans sweat in the first place. Humans sweat for one vital reason: to dissipate heat and thus maintain internal thermoregulation.[1] Thermoregulation is the body’s way of regulating its internal temperature through certain physiological processes.[2] Sweating is the only automatic physiological response that allows humans to get rid of heat and cool down their bodies making it critical to survival, especially in climates with hot temperatures.[1]

    The human body needs to be kept at a core temperature within the narrow range of 91.76 and 100.72 degrees fahrenheit. If the body’s temperature gets too high then cell toxicity occurs, DNA is unable to be synthesized, and organ failure will eventually occur. Thankfully, that is where sweating comes in. When a person is exposed to high heat thermoreceptors in the skin (heat sensing cells) send a message to a part of their brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain responsible for maintaining the correct body temperature. At this point, the hypothalamus activates sympathetic cholinergic fibers, which are a part of the sympathetic nervous system responsible for activating sweat glands. Before sweat is produced the body experiences something called vasodilation in which blood vessels begin to expand and liquid from the blood is transferred to sweat glands. Once the sweat glands are filled with sweat they begin to excrete it onto the surface of the skin. The liquid on the skin’s surface is then evaporated into the surrounding environment. When this happens, heat energy that was originally in the blood is carried into the sweat glands, onto the surface of the skin, and then away from the body when sweat is evaporated. That is how sweating allows the body to cool itself.[3]

    All of this information relates to exercise because when you exercise your body’s internal temperature rises. That rise in temperature initiates the sweating response and your body produces more sweat as it tries to cool itself back down.[1]

    Should I Wipe Off Sweat During a Workout?

    The answer depends on your individual situation. If you want to maximize your body’s ability to cool itself off, then waiting a little while before wiping your sweat off is technically beneficial. However, if you sweat profusely during a workout and it is bothering you or impacting your work out than you should wipe it off. It isn’t really going to hurt you. According to an article in the Slate, each gram of sweat that is evaporated into the environment releases 2,427 joules of energy from the body. If sweat isn’t given the opportunity to evaporate then it won’t be able to release the heat from your body and cool you down. Then your body will theoretically have to sweat more to cool your core temperature, although this is not well studied at the moment.[4]

    Some people suffer from a condition called primary focal hyperhidrosis in which the body produces sweat in excess of what the body needs for thermoregulation. Exercising can cause people with hyperhidrosis to become drenched in sweat so that it pulls off the body.[5] In this case, waiting to wipe off sweat isn’t really beneficial. If you are so soaked that sweat is pouring off your body then you aren’t getting the benefit of having sweat evaporate off your skin anyways.[4] Don’t be afraid to wipe sweat off if it is distracting you during a workout or causing you to feel uncomfortable.

    It is important to note that showering after a workout is often a good idea. While sweat itself is clear and odorless, bacteria on the skin break it down over time and create a foul smelling odor.[6] This is especially important for people who have a condition called bromhidrosis in which sweat becomes especially stinky.

    It is interesting to note that athletes tend to sweat more and sooner than people who exercise less frequently. Their bodies begin to lower their internal temperatures before hitting the intense part of a workout which allows them to exercise more intensely and for a longer period of time before the effects of high body temperature slow them down. It is one of the ways the body can adapt to physical challenges. It is just important to remember that if you are sweating more than it is important to replace the water and electrolytes your body is losing after an intense workout.[7]

    In the end, you shouldn't sweat it. If you don’t need to wipe your sweat off, then don’t. If it is bothering you, though, wipe it off and don’t worry about it!

    Sources
    1. Shibasak, M., & Crandall, C. G. (2010). Mechanisms and controllers of eccrine sweating in humans. Front Biosci (Schol Ed), 292-296. Retrieved May 7, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866164/.
    2. Thermoregulation. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/science/thermoregulation
    3. Tansey, E. A., & Johnson, C. D. (2015). Recent advances in thermoregulation. American Physiological Society. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/advan.00126.2014
    4. Palmer, B. (2012, June 22). Let Them See You Sweat. The Slate. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://slate.com/technology/2012/06/should-you-wipe-away-your-sweat-or-does-that-keep-you-from-cooling-down
    5. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    6. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science.
    7. Boston, G. (2015, August 20). Sweat during exercise is good for your health. The Star. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2015/08/20/sweat-during-exercise-is-good-for-your-health
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