Underarm Sweating

Information on the causes of excessive underarm sweating problems and sweaty armpits.

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  1. What is Underarm Sweating?
  2. What Causes Underarm Sweating?
  3. More Information on Underarm Sweating

What is Underarm Sweating?

Underarm sweating is a normal process and is something that most people have to deal with. Unlike many other types of sweating, underarm sweating only begins around puberty and during the first month or two the sweating is generally excessive. In time, this sweating decreases down to a normal and more manageable level.

For some people however, the sweating remains excessive and it can become quite an annoying and embarrassing problem having to deal with large sweat marks on clothing, and managing the body odor that is often associated with underarm sweating. The sweat glands in the armpits differ to the sweat glands in most other areas of the body.

Unlike the eccrine sweat glands, which are all over the body and concentrated in areas such as the head, hands, and feet, the glands present under the arms and in the groin area are called apocrine glands. Where eccrine glands excrete mainly water and salts, the sweat produced by the apocrine glands also contains other substances such as carbohydrates, proteins, fatty substances and pheromones.

The sweat produced in these glands is therefore often associated with body odor as it attracts bacteria and when the compounds are broken down, body odor is the result. When underarm sweating becomes excessive it is referred to as auxiliary hyperhidrosis.

What Causes Underarm Sweating?

While the causes are not clearly understood, it seems to be a condition related to the over-activity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

The hypothalamus in the brain sends a message through the SNS which is then relayed to the sweat glands. When something goes wrong along this message pathway, hyperhidrosis is often the result. In addition, there are a number of common triggers which can result in excessive sweating and these include anxiety, stress, heat, physical activity, as well as eating hot and spicy foods.

More Information on Underarm Sweating

How to cope with underarm sweating
  • Keep cool by wearing loose fitting and light clothing that allows your skin to breathe. Cotton and linen are great, but avoid synthetic fabrics and silks whenever you can.
  • Wear light colored clothing that will not absorb the heat. Sweaty marks are also less noticeable on lighter colors.
  • Use a good antiperspirants and not a deodorant. Deodorants are designed to mask the smell of the sweat, but the can make the problem worse. Antiperspirants are formulated to help reduce the sweat.
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and replace lost fluids.
  • Make sure you eat a healthy balance diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Foods to avoid include spicy foods, and strong smelling foods such as garlic, onion and hot peppers.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene to prevent body odor. This may mean showering 2-3 times a day with hot water and a good anti-bacterial soap.
  • To prevent sweating after a hot shower, try running cool water for a couple of minutes before you get out of the shower.
  • Shave under your arms, as the hair makes a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that causes body odor.
  • Whenever possible, try walking barefoot or open shoes. This helps cool the entire body.
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