The guest blog below is the last in the International Hyperhidrosis Society‘s first annual awareness month – and they’re covering myths about antiperspirants and sweat! We’ve previously included their posts on sweating at work, when situational sweat is serious, and how to control stress sweat!
5 Falsehoods and Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Antiperspirants…But Should!
Sweat understandably gets a bad rap. It can ruin our hair; our clothes; our furniture; our mood; our image at home, work and socially; our ability to exercise, play music and handle gadgets; and far more. And while men tend to sweat more than women under normal circumstances, both genders are equally impacted by hyperhidrosis—a serious medical condition causing people to sweat excessively (up to 4 or 5 times more than normal). In fact, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society—the scholars of sweat—nearly 367 million people of all ages struggle with hyperhidrosis on their hands, feet, face, underarms, or body.
Those living with hyperhidrosis suffer from extreme, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and emotionally-devastating sweating. In fact, an infographic from Dermira — an innovative biotech dedicated to developing treatments for chronic skin conditions — is rife with scary hyperhidrosis statistics and sheds revealing light on this debilitating sweat-inducing condition.
Whether you sweat situationally at a normal level or have clinical hyperhidrosis, there’s one shared weapon: antiperspirants. Love them or hate them, pretty much all of us need—or could certainly benefit—from them. But all antiperspirants are not created equal and some misnomers exist about antiperspirants that are preventing people from using them, using them effectively, or enjoying their benefits.
With all of this in mind, below are some common antiperspirant myths, misconceptions and problem solvers courtesy of the experts at the International Hyperhidrosis Society:
Myth: Antiperspirants and deodorants do the same thing.
Truth. Unlike deodorants, antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that temporarily block sweat pores, thereby reducing the amount of perspiration that reaches your skin. Deodorants, on the other hand, can help eliminate odor but not perspiration. They’re usually alcohol-based and turn your skin acidic, making it less attractive to bacteria. Deodorants often also contain perfume fragrances to mask odor. Looking to fight sweat and odor? Make sure you’re using a combination antiperspirant and deodorant product.
Myth: Antiperspirants can cause breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease
Truth: According to the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Institute, BreastCancer.org, and the Alzheimer’s Association, there are no strong scientific studies reporting a statistical association between antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk or Alzheimer’s risk. If you’re concerned about breast cancer or Alzheimer’s, you don’t need to ditch your antiperspirants – focus instead on having regular health screenings, avoiding alcohol, exercising regularly, eating a nutritious balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, staying mentally and socially involved, and protecting yourself from head injuries.
Myth: Antiperspirants are for underarms only and, like caffeine, are best used in the morning.
Truth: Think outside the pits! You can glide, stick, spray, and roll-on nearly anywhere that sweating is a problem (picture hands, feet, face, back, chest, and even groin.) Be smart and talk to your dermatologist first before applying an antiperspirant to sensitive areas and test new products on small areas of skin first. Luckily there are antiperspirant brands like Certain Dri—one of the most effective that can be purchased without a prescription—that are specifically developed to help those who suffer from excessive sweating. For best results, use your antiperspirant in the evening. Sweat production is at its lowest at night, and evening application gives the active ingredients in antiperspirants time overnight to get into your pores in order to block perspiration when the sun comes up and you really get moving.
Myth: Sweat is to blame for stains on your clothes.
Truth: Ironically it’s actually your antiperspirant combined with your sweat that leads to staining. When the active ingredients in your antiperspirant mix with your sweat, they cause a reaction that leads to marks on fabrics. But you don’t have to choose between your clothesyou’re your antiperspirant. Here are some sweat-busting and style-saving tips:
- Apply your antiperspirant at night before bed. It works better when applied at night anyway (see above) and your morning outfit won’t suffer.
- Apply only a thin layer of antiperspirant. Experts say one swipe up and one swipe down is enough and there won’t be extra to rub off onto your clothes.
- Try shirt or dress shields placed in the underarms – you can find disposable or reusable versions. They are like pads for your pits absorbing sweat and antiperspirant and protecting that favorite garment.
- Rinse the sweaty areas of your clothing with cold water as soon as possible after wear. The longer substances stay on fabrics, the more permanent the stain or discoloration.
- Pre-treat potential yellow stains with detergent, ammonia, white vinegar, a bleach stick, or hydrogen peroxide before washing. Or soak the garment in water with an enzyme-containing laundry product. For bleached-out stains on dark clothing, apply ammonia to a fresh stain or white vinegar to an old stain, then rinse. Don’t put clothing in the dryer until you’ve removed the stain or given up – the heat of the dryer will set the stain and make it even harder, if not impossible, to remove.
Myth: All sweat is the same and all sweat stinks.
Truth: There are actually two types of sweat glands that each produce their own type of sweat: eccrine and apocrine sweat. Eccrine sweat is an odorless, clear fluid that helps the body to control its temperature by promoting heat loss through evaporation. It’s mostly made up of water and salt. Apocrine sweat is “stress” sweat and apocrine glands are found mostly in the armpits and genital region (near dense pockets of hair follicles.) Apocrine sweat is a thick fluid that’s initially odorless, but doesn’t evaporate as quickly as eccrine sweat and can develop an odor when it combines with normal bacteria on surface of the skin. The odor produced is that potent smell we often call “body odor.” Fortunately for those of us with stressful jobs, there are ways to manage stress sweat (and the resultant odor), like these tips below:
- Manage your stress and learn how to control it to prevent or limit stress sweating in the first place.
- Use an antiperspirant to prevent sweating/wetness. Antiperspirants work on both types of sweat glands. Apply at night for best efficacy.
- In the morning, add a deodorant (or reuse your antiperspirant/deodorant combination product).
- Trim/groom your hair where apocrine sweat/odor is a problem. This can help your antiperspirant and deodorant to reach your skin and, therefore, do their jobs better. Trimming hair also prevents sweat and oil from hanging around and cuts down on the surface areas on which bacteria and sweat can react.
- There are medical treatments to stop sweating (and the odor linked to it, too) like the medical device miraDry, which studies show reduces body odor.
Whether your sweating is within the norm and just annoying or if it’s the more serious hyperhidrosis condition, antiperspirants are a great way to help wrangle the wetness. The truths and tips above, courtesy of the International Hyperhidrosis Society, can help you reap the many benefits that antiperspirants provide, but far more confidently, comfortably and contently.