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The Sweat FAQs

By Sam Nardi / Nov 19, 19
Dermadry Team

Let's talk about sweat! You asked, and now we have the answers to your most frequently asked questions about sweat!

Read our sweat FAQ below and don't forget to enter our World’s Sweatiest Person contest!

What is sweat?

Sweat is a liquid composed almost entirely of water (and minute traces of other things like salt and ammonia) that is secreted by the sweat glands, which are found all over the human body.

 

How many types of sweat glands are there?  

There are two types of sweat glands, known as the apocrine and eccrine glands. They are located in different regions of the body and excrete two different types of sweat.

 

What are the two types of sweat glands?        

The two types of sweat glands are called eccrine (which release a clear odorless liquid that helps regulate body temperature) and apocrine glands (which secrete a thick liquid associated with body odor — these glands grow in relation to hair follicles.)

 

What is apocrine sweat?         

Apocrine sweat is secreted from the apocrine glands that are located in areas abundant in hair follicles, such as on your scalp, underarms, and groin. Apocrine glands open into the hair follicle, leading to the surface of the skin, and secrete a concentrated fatty sweat that is responsible for body odor.

 

What is eccrine sweat?

Eccrine sweat is secreted from the eccrine glands that are located all over the body, particularly on the palms, soles, and forehead. Eccrine sweat is essentially diluted saltwater and is odorless. These sweat glands are responsible for controlling body temperature.

 

What triggers sweat?

Common sweat triggers include exercise, stress, temperature, illness, and eating.

 

Why do we sweat?    

Sweating is the process through which the body regulates temperature, which keeps us cool and comfortable and prevents the body from overheating.

 
 

How does sweating cool the body?    

Through a process called evaporative cooling. Once the sweat reaches the surface of the skin, it evaporates, which causes the body to cool down.

 

Why is sweating important?  

It is a crucial body function that regulates body temperature and prevents us from overheating! Those who do not sweat enough (anhidrosis/hypohidrosis) are at risk of severe life-threatening complications such as heat stroke.

 

How does sweating work?      

When your body starts to heat up, it responds by activating the eccrine sweat glands located throughout the body, which releases sweat (a clear, odorless liquid) to cool you down. Once it reaches the surface of the skin, it evaporates, which causes a cooling effect.

 

Why do I sweat when I eat?   

Certain foods can trigger our sweat glands or kick them into high gear. This includes beverages like coffee and alcohol, as well as highly processed foods. The body works hard to break down food and turn it into energy, so the harder it is for the body to break food down, the more it may cause you to sweat. Hot and spicy foods can also cause you to sweat excessively when eating. If you are constantly sweating while eating (or even just thinking about food), then you may suffer from the condition known as gustatory hyperhidrosis.

 

Why do I sweat when I sleep?  

Humans sweat when they sleep and depending on the level of sweat, some may not even notice it! However, night sweats (waking up feeling drenched no matter the temperature) is a very common condition that can be attributed to a range of factors and is usually a sign of an underlying condition or a side-effect of medication.

 

Does sweating help with weight loss?

Sweating itself does not lead to weight loss, nor does sweating a lot burn more calories. Sweating may help you lose water weight, but water weight is re-gained right after you rehydrate yourself with water.

 

Does sweating mean you’re burning fat?         

No, sweating does not help you lose fat, in fact, the only way sweating affects your weight is by sweating out water weight, which is temporary. You may be sweating during an intense workout that burns fat, but your sweat level does not directly impact how much fat you are burning.

 

Does more sweat mean a better workout?     

Not necessarily. The amount you sweat during a workout depends on a variety of factors including your fitness level, age, and weight. 

 

Can sweating be a sign of something?  

Sweating can be a sign of a lot of things, it can also be a symptom or side effect of a condition or medications, this is called secondary hyperhidrosis. If you are concerned about your level of sweating (or a recent change), it is best to consult a medical professional to rule out any underlying conditions. Medications that are known to cause sweating, these are called diaphoretic drugs. If there is no underlying cause or medication, then excessive sweating can be a sign of primary hyperhidrosis.

 

Does sweat cause acne?          

Nope! Sweat itself doesn’t cause acne and can actually help prevent it as sweat releases an antibacterial protein that kills common bacteria that are responsible for acne.

 

Does sweat smell?     

Sweat itself is an odorless liquid. The smell associated with sweat only occurs once the sweat gets broken down by the bacteria that live on our skin. When the bacteria break down the sweat, they release a sulfurous odor. In severe cases, this is called bromhidrosis.

 

Can you sweat out toxins?     

No, as sweat is almost entirely composed of water, there is no real “sweat detox”. The amount of toxins released in sweat is negligible as the liver and kidneys are responsible for eliminating toxins from the body, not the sweat glands.

 

How much does the average human sweat in a day? 

It depends! The human body has between 2-4 million sweat glands, which can produce a maximum of 10-14 liters per day (in an adult). The amount you sweat depends on numerous factors, including your age, sex, genetics, weight, and fitness level. The average sedentary adult loses 450ml of sweat every day (without noticing it, in most cases), while an athlete can lose up to 1200ml per hour.

 

Do I sweat too much?

Everyone sweats, and most people fall within a normal range. If sweat is impeding your ability to carry out daily tasks or you are always sweating for no reason, you may be suffering from hyperhidrosis, a medical condition characterized by excessive sweating (in excess of what the body needs for temperature regulation).

 

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How much sweat is too much? 

There is no definite answer, but if sweating impacts your daily life, you may want to seek treatment or talk to a health professional. The human body is composed of about 73% water and losing just 1% of that can cause dehydration.

 

What are some types of sweat disorders?

  • Anhidrosis: Also known as hypohidrosis, this condition is characterized by the inability to produce sweat, which can lead to life-threatening conditions such as hyperthermia.
  • Bromhidrosis: A condition characterized by extremely foul-smelling body odor.
  • Chromhidrosis: A rare condition that makes people sweat in different colors.
  • Hyperhidrosis: A very common medical condition characterized by excessive sweating.

 

Why am I sweating for no reason?     

Uncontrollable excessive sweating that is not associated with an underlying medical condition nor is considered a side effect of a medical condition, is most likely a medical condition known as primary hyperhidrosis.

 

What is compensatory sweating?       

Compensatory sweating happens when you completely stop sweating in one area, and your body compensates by sweating more in other places. This is an extremely common side effect of highly risky hyperhidrosis surgery known as ETS. It is not associated with iontophoresis treatment.

 

How can I stop sweating so much?     

Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) is a highly treatable condition. An effective way to treat it is with tap water iontophoresis. Learn more before!

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