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DON’T SWEAT IT: Tips and Advice for Excessive Perspiration

Hardly a day goes by without a tabloid or gossip magazine publishing an embarrassing picture of a well known celebrity sporting sweaty armpits. While we mere mortals may take a certain smug satisfaction from knowing that despite their wealth and fame they still suffer from this most natural of ailments the reality is that for many people excessive sweating can actually be very disturbing. Aside from the embarrassment factor many the item of clothing has been ruined due to prolonged perspiration; which can make it an expensive affliction as well. However, perspiration is something that is easily dealt with and, other than in extremely rare circumstances, is very manageable.

Sweating is perfectly normal and everybody has around two million sweat glands which are located mainly in your palms, the soles of your feet, the forehead, the armpits and the genital area. In simple terms sweat is the body’s way of regulating its temperature and detoxifying. When the body’s temperature increases – perhaps because of exercise or central heating – blood flow to the skin is increased in order to direct this excess heat away from the heart and the perspiration evaporates on your skin to cool you down. In a situation where you’ve perhaps been overdoing it for a while partying hard and drinking lots of caffeine or alcohol you will find that you suffer from excessive sweating as your system tries to eliminate these toxins through the skin.

Since sweating is linked to the nervous system it can also be caused by emotionally strenuous situations such as a job interview or bumping into an ex. This is because when you’re suffering anxiety, nervousness or other stress related conditions it triggers the neuro-transmitters that control sweat. Ironically worrying about sweating in a stressful situation can actually make it worse, but the good news is that stress induced sweat can be controlled by deep breathing and relaxation exercises.

An unfortunate few people suffer from profuse perspiration which can be genetic. In rare cases though – approximately one in a hundred – they suffer from a condition called hyperhidrosis, which can be caused by an overactive thyroid, diabetes, neurological disease or in extremely rare cases, cancer. Other causes of perspiration are taking certain medications, eating spicy foods and – obviously – suffering fever or infection.

Some women may find that hormonal changes, such as those suffered before a period, cause them to sweat more. Despite this, women still tend to sweat less than men do.

While there is no hard and fast rule as to how much each individual will perspire obese people tend to sweat more since the added insulation from their body fat raises their core body temperature. Irrespective of how much you sweat though it shouldn’t smell. Contrary to popular myths perspiration is actually odourless and what causes body odour is the bacteria that feed on sweat. This is easily avoided by maintaining a good personal hygiene routine and washing every day.

As well as ensuring you shower or bathe there are a variety of antiperspirants and deodorants on the market to help you deal with your sweat issues. Antiperspirants work by sealing off sweat glands temporarily with astringents and preventing you from sweating. Meanwhile deodorants have an antiseptic action on the bacteria which causes sweat to smell and they neutralise the odour. Deodorants don’t interfere with the sweating process thus allowing the body to cool down naturally. There is no hard and fast rule about which to use and it really is a matter of personal choice with many brands incorporating both properties into their products.

If you don’t fancy the idea of putting chemicals on your body there are a couple of natural ways to deal with the problem. One of the oldest natural antiperspirants known to man is lemon juice and some people still use it nowadays. This is a natural astringent which helps to block pores and simply cutting a lemon in half and rubbing it under your arms or wherever you want to feel fresh can be very effective. Lemon juice is also great for removing tide marks caused by sweat from clothing. Simply squeeze some in the offending area and rub it in before placing it in the washing machine and the acid in the juice will help to eliminate the stain. If you want a natural deodorant try some baking soda. Dusting it on after washing will neutralise any odours without interfering with your body’s natural sweating process.

The majority of people stick to over the counter products and there are three basic types – aerosol, roll on and stick. Aerosols have seriously dwindled in popularity in recent years as roll on and stick formulations allow you to get the product exactly where you want it. Again this is a matter of personal choice although we would suggest that you look for a fast drying product that has a no-stain formulation as white deodorant marks on clothes are almost as unsightly as sweat marks.

One of the newest methods of dealing with sweat is none other than Botox. Yes, this popular product is no longer just used to smooth out foreheads and having this injected into your underarms or the palms of your hand paralyses the nerve endings preventing them from producing sweat. It has become increasingly popular with celebrities with many well known faces getting this done before big awards ceremonies and according to Dr Danielle Meagher of DermaFace Clinic in Dublin 2, this treatment is becoming increasingly popular in Ireland – especially amongst her female clients.

“Underarm Botox is huge in the summer,” she revealed. “I don’t think men mind perspiring as much as women and you’d have a lot of women who would be wearing pale tops in the fine weather and who are really conscious of underarm sweat. Many of them have to deal with people in work or give presentations and they can find it quite traumatic. They are turning to this to solve the problem once and for all.”

Irrespective of how much you sweat or what method you use to control it do remember that it is important to replace the fluids you lose through it. While sweating may be unpleasant dehydration is much worse ensure you drink plenty of water to replenish what you excrete through perspiration.


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