Fake news did not avoid the health area. Misinformation and half-truths disseminated in the media are often based on unprofessional claims and stupid generalizations. Many of these messages have a bit of truth in them, but the rest is nonsense. In this article, we focus on the most widespread myths about sweating. Let’s see if sweat really stinks, whether you can lose weight by sweating, or whether deodorants protect us from sweating. We will explain the relation between sweating and physical fitness, whether excessive sweating is a disease and whether sweat is responsible for yellow stains on clothes.
1. Sweat Stinks
Many people think that sweat is responsible for body odor. The more we sweat, the more we smell. But it is a misunderstanding. Sweat contains up to 99% water and the remaining 1% is mainly salts, amino acids, and some other substances. It is practically almost pure water. Body odor arises from the reaction of sweat with skin bacteria that naturally occur on the skin. During this reaction, bacteria break down long chains of fatty acids into shorter ones, releasing unpleasant odor gases.
2. Sweating Washes Out Harmful Substances
If someone tells you that you will get rid of toxins and other harmful substances in the sauna, do not believe them. We have practically refuted this myth in the previous paragraph where we said what the sweat is composed of. All you lose by sweating is water and some salt. To be more precise, it is true that sweat also contains heavy metals, urea, and uric acid. In sweat, however, they form so little that it does not affect health or physical processes.
3. You Can Lose Weight By Sweating
This myth probably originated from the combination of sweating and exercise. Regular quality exercise contributes to weight management, but sweat has no role to play. It is only a reaction of the body to an elevated temperature. Sweat acts as a coolant that triggers when our body needs to lower body temperature.
When we sweat more while running or exercising, we lose only the weight of the water that our body has eliminated. And we get it back when we drink again.
4. Excessive Sweating Is a Disease
Sweating is always a reaction of the body to some external or internal stimuli. Excessive sweating itself is not a disease. It can be a side effect of some diseases such as Inflammation, Hyperthyroidism, Cancer, Parkinsons, and others. Night sweats often occur during pregnancy and menopause in women or andropause in men. This is due to hormonal changes in the body. Certain medications can also cause us to sweat more than usual. In all these cases we are talking about the so-called secondary hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating, in this case, is not a disease, but a consequence of a disease, condition or medication.
However, there is also primary hyperhidrosis that is not caused by any disease, medication or hormonal changes. According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, 5% of the population suffers from this condition. It is manifested in particular by excessive and uncontrolled sweating in certain parts of the body, most often under the armpit, arms, legs or head. Experts are not able to sufficiently explain the cause of primary hyperhidrosis but claim that genetics may be the main culprit. Even in the case of primary hyperhidrosis, however, we are not talking about the disease but the condition.
5. Sweat Makes Yellow Stains
Unpleasant yellow stains on clothes are known to everyone. When they dry and harden, they can destroy our favorite shirt or blouse and look terrible. But is it only sweat? You may have noticed that if you don’t use any skin product for your armpits and sweat a lot, white maps will appear on your shirt. It is a dried salt, but it can be easily removed by normal washing.
The true culprits of yellow spots are antiperspirants and deodorants. Although they can get rid of sweating (or reduce it), they are also the reason that clothes will end up in the trash. These products contain oils, fragrances, and other substances that, when reacted with proteins from our sweat, create yellow spots.
6. When You Are Fit You Sweat Less
The opposite is true. People who exercise regularly usually sweat more and faster. When you are in good shape, your body usually responds faster to an elevated temperature. But sweat is not a good indicator that you are exercising well. How soon and how much someone sweats in exercise is influenced by several factors such as health, body structure, gender, and genetics.
Someone has more sweat glands because of the larger body, or produces more sweat per one gland. The way we sweat, therefore, varies from person to person, and this also applies to exercise. We discussed this topic in more detail in Excessive Sweating While Exercising – Is It Good or Bad?
7. Sweating Is Always Natural
We have already talked about primary hyperhidrosis. It causes us to sweat even when our body does not need it. Therefore, we cannot say that it is natural. Overactive sweat glands produce sweat even when body temperature is stable. People living with this condition know how unpleasant it is and how it limits them in everyday life. Constantly sweaty armpits, wet hands or feet limit them in everyday activities and complicate their lives. Fortunately, several treatments can alleviate or stop sweating altogether.
8. Deodorants Stop Sweating
This is a very popular myth about sweating. You can find many articles about the best deodorant for excessive sweating and the like. The role of deodorant is to limit the number of bacteria that cause odor points. If you want to sweat less, use an antiperspirant. Many cosmetic brands indeed produce and promote products that combine these two functions. However, most of them suppress sweating only minimally. The best antiperspirants for excessive sweating contain mostly aluminum salts that narrow skin pores and prevent persistence. Deodorants are mostly fragranced while strong over-the-counter antiperspirants don’t contain any perfume.
Vaclav Michalcik is PR manager who write for medical clients, and founder of sweatlimit.com. As a hyperhidrosis sufferer, he tries to help people with a similar condition. Vaclav collaborates with dermatologists and medical experts to provide helpful information using proven medical sources.