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Sweating - Myths, Facts & Tips

Sweating is natural and also normal but it can still embarrass us in between our friends or at work because sweat can show up as patches on our backs or in our armpits – and it also makes us smell bad. Sweating is normal but not sweating is not. This article is about sweating – what it is, how it happens and what are the factors that increase sweating; it also mentions some myths and facts about sweating, and as a conclusion some tips are provided about how to deal with sweating and how to prevent body odor in the hot summer months.

Sweating, Myths, Facts, Natural, Tips

Introduction

Summer is almost gone and it is the rainy season in which all of us are troubled by sweat. Doing any activity – mowing the lawn, bicycling in the evening, chopping up veggies or even taking a bath – cannot be done without sweating. What is sweating? Why does it happen? Let us discuss in detail. Our body is able to properly and easily carry out all processes at the temperature of 37OC or 98.6OF. When the surrounding temperature changes our body responds to it. For example, in winter, the surrounding temperature is much lower than our body temperature, and then our body tries to adapt to it by shivering and we have to cover it with thick layers of clothes. Similarly, in the summer, the surrounding temperature is much higher than our body temperature and our body tries to adapt to it by trying to cool down. The brain senses that the surrounding temperature is higher than that of the body and it signals the sweat glands to produce sweat. Sweat is made of salts and water. Sweat exits our body via the little holes that we see everywhere on the skin and also from where the hair of our body grows – they are called pores. So after leaving the body via pores, tiny drops of sweat evaporate into the air. It causes our body to cool down. Therefore sweating is the body’s natural mechanism of cooling down in the hot weather. The amount of sweating and the amount of thirst we feel are always proportional to each other.

Why Does Sweat Produce Bad Odor?

As mentioned earlier, sweat is mostly made up of water and salt. Then, why do we stink when we sweat? Also, why do the armpits and the groin smell the worst? It is so because the kind of sweat glands present in the armpits and the groin are different from the ones present on the rest of the body. Also, the armpits and the groin have more hair than the rest of the body. When sweat is produced, it doesn’t smell bad. It is after the secretion of sweat that some bacteria that live around the body hair mixes up with the sweat and converts it into acids that have odor.  This is why our armpits smell more than our face or palms do. We don’t smell as much when we are kids, it is after puberty that our sweat glands are triggered by our hormones to produce more sweat.

Is Sweating Important?

Yes, sweating is a natural process of the body and also necessary for the body to maintain and regulate its own temperature. Along with temperature, many factors, environmental and personal, trigger or affect sweating, such as:

  • Exercising
  • Anger
  • Fear and Nervousness
  • Embarrassment, or stress
  • Eating chilies
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Pregnancy
  • Before and during Menopause
  • Other hormonal changes

It is also normal for some people to sweat more than others. Extra sweating is called Hyperhidrosis, while less or no sweating is called Hypohidrosis.

  • Hyperhidrosis is normal and can be easily balanced out by drinking more fluids and making the room cooler by using electric fans and air conditioning.
  • Hypohidrosis is not normal, in fact it is a dangerous condition which means that something is certainly wrong with the body and it is not able to release heat to cool down.

Myths And Facts About Sweating

There are many common notions about sweating that aren't necessarily true. Let's look at the most commonly circulated myths about sweating – and facts about it.

1. It Is Bad To Sweat

It is completely natural and safe to sweat, because we have sweat glands for a reason. Our sweat glands are there to regulate the temperature of our body just like we have installed air conditioners to regulate the temperature of our houses. So stop thinking that sweat is your enemy and it is only you who sweats. Everyone gets their sweat but in different amounts.

2. Excess Sweating Is Good

Sweating is good, but excess sweating is not. There is a healthy limit to everything. But if you sweat less normally and have started sweating excessively suddenly, it means that a certain lifestyle, medication or food is not suiting your body. You should find out the cause and eliminate it.

3. Preventing Sweating Is A Bad Practice

It is usually said by the people who naturally sweat less. Yes, sweating is natural, but there is no prohibition on cleaning oneself frequently or using perfumes and deodorants. Let the sweat do its duty and let the deodorant do its work. It is completely fine to follow hygienic practices.

4. Sweating Causes Yellow Patches

The areas on our shirts around our armholes are often seen as discolored or yellow. This makes us assume that some people have colored sweat. It is actually the reaction of deodorants or antiperspirants that becomes yellow and stains our white shirts. To avoid these stains you should wait after applying deodorant and then wear your shirt.

5. Sweat Is Odorous And Stinky

This has been clarified already that sweat is clean and odorless when it exits our body. But when sweat comes in contact with the bacteria (that lives on our skin all the time) it is broken down into such aromatic components that it starts to stink. Also, the sweat that is secreted by the glands present in the armpits and the groin contains some fatty acids that smell stronger than and different from the sweat at the palms or the feet or the forehead.

6. You Can Remove Toxins By Sweating

People circulate this in their fitness groups that they can detoxify their body by sweating. Sweating just removes water from your body and sweat doesn’t contain toxins. So it is a myth that toxins can be removed from the body by just sweating. Toxins can actually be removed by eating a healthy diet and drinking lots of fluids.

7. You Can Become Thinner By Sweating

It is commonly thought that in order to lose weight one must sweat a lot, so people sit in a sauna and expect to get thin and lean by the time they leave the sauna. Sweating may or may not be visible while exercising and working out, which activities definitely help in burning calories and losing excess weight, but sweating doesn’t directly do it.

8. Exercise Is Efficient If More Sweat Is Released

Some people believe and tell others that those who sweat less during an exercise have not done it well and are going to benefit less as from it as compared to those who sweat more. Sweating is not a measure of how good an exercise has been done. Sweating just tells how many sweat glands a person has.

9. Using Deodorants Is A Bad Practice

Deodorants do not interfere with the normal sweating process and they just mask the foul smell caused by the mixing of bacteria and sweat. There is no harm in using deodorants. In fact, using antiperspirants can be bad as it interferes with the normal sweating mechanism of the body.

10. Using Antiperspirants Is Safe And Good

No, Antiperspirants block the sweat glands. Blocking the sweat glands is surely a bad idea because then the normal body temperature regulation would be hampered. Also, some antiperspirants contain aluminum salts and should not be used regularly or in excess.

Tips To Improve Body Odor

  • Maintain personal hygiene. Take bath regularly and use a good soap or body wash. If bathing more than once a day, use soap on only those areas where you sweat the most.
  • Use a clean towel to wipe your body. The towel may retain some bacteria and moisture can worsen it. Wash your towel often and dry well after using.
  • Wear clean clothes after drying your body completely.  If you wear the clothes you’ve already worn, there may be residue of sweat and bacteria in it which can cause trouble in this season.
  • Wear loose and cotton clothing. Loose clothes will allow air circulation between the clothes and the body and cotton clothes will absorb the sweat better.
  • Wear lighter colors in the summer as dark colors absorb sunlight while the light ones reflect it. Less sunlight means less heat.
  • Eat less meat and more raw and fresh foods. The body responds to what you eat and its fluids also change accordingly.
  • Change clothes after you arrive home after work. Even if you have not had much sweat during the day, it is a good idea to take a bath after arriving home and changing into a fresh pair of night suit.
  • Use mild deodorants. Deodorants should be effective but not too strong that may be harsh on the skin.
  • Use good quality antiperspirants. Antiperspirants should be used less often and care should be taken to use them properly.

Tips To Rule Out Abnormal Sweating

  • Get your blood cholesterol, glucose (sugar) and blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Lose weight if you need to do so.
  • Get your hormonal levels checked. 

Conclusion

Sweating is a natural and normal process of the body. Excess sweating may make you feel embarrassed because it can cause your body to smell bad, and show up as wet patches on your shirts. But it can be managed by using comfortable clothing and bathe more than once during extremely hot weather. Using deodorants and fragrant talcs can be of some help. But not sweating is a harmful condition which means that the body is retaining its heat – and you can collapse due to heatstroke if you are not sweating, so you should consult your physician in such circumstances.

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Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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