Frequently Asked Questions about Excessive Armpit Sweat

Why do we sweat?

The simple answer to the question of why we sweat is that this is how our body cools itself. When the body gets overly warm, it sends moisture to the surface of the skin, where it evaporates; taking the heat with it to cool the body.

But what about when we sweat because we’re nervous? Why do we sweat then? Essentially, what you are experiencing is increased sympathetic nerve activity and elevated epinephrine levels secreted by your adrenal gland. These chemicals send signals to your sweat glands telling them to produce sweat.

Why do we sweat under our arms?

Actually, we sweat everywhere. Most people have over two million sweat glands distributed all over their bodies. The sweat glands in our underarms are a different kind though, and are larger than the sweat glands in other places, and therefore can produce a greater volume of sweat.

What is sweat made of?

Most of our sweat is made of water with a little dash of salt. Some sweat glands also produce sweat that contains proteins and fatty acids as well, particularly the sweat glands in our armpits.

Why does armpit sweat smell bad?

When it first comes out, it doesn’t smell any different than sweat that comes out elsewhere on your body. But as mentioned in the previous answer, the sweat glands in our armpits produce sweat with proteins and fatty acids in it, as well as water and salt. As the sweat collects in our nice, warm armpits, bacteria from the skin start to act on the sweat, metabolizing the proteins and fatty acids, and an aroma develops. Depending on what culture you live in, the smell might be considered good or bad. In the American culture, the smell is not considered to be socially acceptable, and a multi-billion dollar industry has developed with products to treat the outward signs of sweaty armpits.

Why do we have hair under our arms?

Like sweat glands, hair exists all over our bodies too. But the special sweat glands in our armpits typically ends in hair follicles, not pores like elsewhere on our bodies, and where you have hair follicles, you’re going to have hairs…naturally!

Should I shave the hair under my arms?

That is a personal choice. It’s true that keeping the hair under your arms to a minimal amount can help keep your armpits clean and smelling good. Most antiperspirants and deodorants work better on shaved skin too. However it is not entirely necessary and some cultures may frown on it. Most of Western culture does believe in shaving the armpit hair regularly.

How can I keep from getting a rash under my arms?

This depends on what kind of rash it is, which can only be diagnosed by a doctor. If it’s a rash that develops after shaving, try shaving with a new razor blade and never shave dry. Always wet the skin and use a shaving cream or gel to help minimize irritation.

Some underarm rashes are actually yeast infections. Yeast is a fungus that grows in warm, moist environments…just like your armpits. If your armpits get damp and stay damp all day, yeast can develop very quickly. It will probably require a prescription cream to get rid of it. Your doctor will probably also advise you to use a stronger antiperspirant like Certain Dri, and to wash and dry your underarms several times a day.

What is better: spray, roll-on or solid deodorant?

Actually, if you are concerned with excessive armpit sweat, you need to use an antiperspirant, not a deodorant. Antiperspirants contain aluminum as an active ingredient. When the aluminum ions travel into the cells of your sweat glands, they take moisture with them. Soon enough water has gone into the cells to cause them to swell shut, effectively stopping sweat from coming out.

Deodorant, on the other hand, contains ingredients that neutralize the odors caused by bacterial action on sweat, either by fighting the bacteria directly or covering up the odor with a fragrance, or both.

A lot of the personal hygiene products available today contain both antiperspirant and deodorant ingredients. There is no difference between the spray, roll-on or solid formulations in terms of whether one works better than the other. You can feel free to use whichever is most comfortable and works with your lifestyle the best.

What causes excessive sweating, even when we’re not hot or nervous?

Excessive sweating is called hyperhidrosis, and can be caused by several different things. Hormonal imbalance or an overactive thyroid gland could be the culprit. Some foods, like high-caffeine pop and energy drinks cause hyperhidrosis. Some medications cause it too, like certain antidepressants. An overactive sympathetic nervous system could be to blame as well. Whatever the cause, the condition is treatable with both non-surgical and surgical remedies.

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