Keep Cool! Stopping Sweat in Its Tracks
By Debra Jaliman
Keeping cool: stopping sweat in it’s tracks. While many of us have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of summer with open arms, we may be less than thrilled about the effect that wonderfully steamy weather has on the underside of those arms … not to mention the scalp, chest and forehead.
Although you can’t stop sweating altogether — this essential function helps regulate our internal temperature and cools the body year-round — there are ways to keep those sweat-prone areas dry when the temperature soars. As you embrace your favorite summer activities, from outdoor workouts to backyard cookouts, keep these perspiration-stopping tips in mind:
Skip the Silk
A variety of factors can impact how much you perspire — including the clothes you wear. Wearing fabrics like silk or polyester can increase your body temperature and bring on the dampness. Wear light, breathable clothing with loosely woven fabrics and natural fibers like cotton or linen to help prevent sweat stains and decrease perspiration. If you’re in an air-conditioned environment, such as an office or movie theater, dress in layers that you can easily take off to avoid overheating.
Spicy foods can up your body temperature as well, so if you’re prone to perspiration, avoid the hot sauce when you barbecue. Switching to iced coffee and tea can also help you keep your cool.
Pick the Right Product
Contrary to popular belief, deodorants and antiperspirants are two different products. Deodorants help cover up the odors associated with perspiration, but to curb the wetness itself, you need an antiperspirant. Most antiperspirants contain aluminum, which soaks into the skin, blocking sweat.
Head for Your Pantry
Antiperspirants can be applied anywhere on the body, but may cause irritation to sensitive areas of your skin. To keep your chest dry and cool, dust some baking soda under and around your breasts. If your scalp tends to sweat, apply dry shampoo or baby powder before you go out.
To keep sweat at bay, Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, stresses frequent showers with antibacterial soap to clear away the perspiration and fight the bacteria that cause body odor.
Change Your Routine
If you typically shower in the morning, try switching to bedtime, and apply your antiperspirant after toweling off. This gives it more time to work because your skin is dry and your body temperature is naturally lower at night. If you apply it in the morning, increased temperature and sweat volume may cause the antiperspirant to wash away too soon.
Get a Checkup
Sometimes, excess perspiration can be a sign that something else is wrong. Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity or an overactive thyroid, can increase sweating, says Jaliman. If you’ve been perspiring more than usual for no apparent reason, consult your doctor.
Call a Professional
If sweating is really affecting your lifestyle, there are additional options to consider. Prescription or clinical strength over-the-counter antiperspirants can reduce excessive sweating by blocking the sweat glands more effectively. And in extreme cases, Botox injections have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help combat underarm sweat and can decrease perspiration for about seven months, says Jaliman.
To learn more about excessive sweating, visit the International Hyperhidrosis Society’s website.
Debra Jaliman is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Her upcoming book, Skin Rules, will be released in 2012. This is her first time contributing to Life & Beauty Weekly.