Are you using an antiperspirant or a deodorant? Do you even know? We have two types of sweat glands and two types of deodorant. In this video I’ll explain the difference and how to choose the product best for you. Please note that I’m a lifelong fan of Dove products and that I’m a consultant to Unilever, the company that makes Dove Men +Care.
I just flew back from Atlanta for the 4th of July weekend, and, boy, are my sweat glands killing me.
Atlanta has a way of making your sweat glands work overtime, and overworked sweat glands can lead to dreaded heat rash. Heat rash is a common, annoying problem in summertime that develops when sweat glands are blocked, thereby preventing sweat from escaping and irritating your skin.
Hot skin trapped under clothing is often affected, leading to red itchy or prickly bumps (hence it’s other name, prickly heat). Humid heat is worse than dry heat, and anything that blocks the sweat ducts such as lying on your back at night, wearing tight fitting clothing or even applying thick sunscreen is a sure way to bring the rash out.
Prickly heat is commonly seen in babies who aren’t able to tell us when they’re hot and sweaty from being overly bundled up. Hospital patients who are unable to move in bed are also commonly afflicted. Of course, healthy adults can get it too, especially during the dog days of summer.
The best treatment is to get cool. A cool shower, cranking the airconditioning, or taking a dip in the pool will stop the sweating and allow the sweat glands to recover. Sometimes a mild topical steroid such as cortisone cream is needed to calm the inflammation.
Or you can fly to San Diego where the temperature will top out at 72 degrees next week.
The guy next to me on the bike yesterday morning was working like Lance Armstrong in training; he had laid towels on the floor to absorb the impressive perspiration he was generating.
He shouted over to me: “I’m hitting it hard to cleanse out the toxins from last night. Too much Captain Morgan and Buffalo wings, ya know?”
“Really,” I said.
“Actually, I’m a dermatologist, and sweat does not contain any toxins,” I said to myself so that he could not hear. (Gym decorum dictates men do not correct men in the middle of a workout — especially if prefaced by “Actually, I’m a dermatologist”). I left him to his aerobics and wrote this post in my head while I finished mine.
You might not want to believe me, but it’s fact: you cannot sweat out toxins. Sweat is composed of 99% water and a tiny percent of salt, urea, proteins and carbohydrates. Salt, proteins and carbohydrates are natural. Urea is a by-product of protein metabolism and is non-toxic. It’s regulated to keep your blood at a healthy pH. Most excess urea is eliminated in urine (hence the name) and a small amount is in sweat.
Toxins like mercury, chemicals, alcohol, drugs, and spicy BBQ sauce are eliminated by your liver and intestines.
Sweat glands, all 2.6 million of them, regulate your temperature — they’re not designed to expel toxins.
The primary ingredient in sweat is pure water. The water evaporates from your skin, cooling you. Excess sweating doesn’t eliminate excess salt or help hangovers. By forcing your body to copiously perspire, you’re only forcing your kidneys to save water (and ironically actual toxins) elsewhere. The water that ends up in the towel on the floor is the precious water you needed to stay hydrated, not a puddle of poison.
In some ways sweat is the opposite of toxic, it’s a vital fluid. When you are working out hard, replace it. I recommend water, not Captain Morgan Rum.
1 – Drinking water will help your dry skin.
It doesn’t. Drinking water is important to stay hydrated, but if you have dry skin you need to water the outside of your skin, not the inside. Drinking lots of water no more moisturizes your skin than taking a bath quenches your thirst.
2 – Sunscreens with sun protection factor (SPF) of 100 are twice as good as sunscreens with SPF of 50.
As you can see from the graph, there are large differences in sunscreen protection at low SPF; however, there is not much difference in protection once the SPF is at least 30, which is what most dermatologists recommend.
3 – Sweating will make my acne worse.
Sweating does not make acne worse — in fact, sweat is your natural antibiotic. Keeping tight, wet gym clothes on after a workout can clog your pores which can flare acne. So can too much sun. Cover up. Go for a run. Shower. (And if you live in the southeast in August, shower again).
Did you already know these? What skin question would you like answered? Comment here or ask me on Twitter @Dermdoc