Here’s how to stay cool, dry and avoid sweat stains, even when it’s hot outside.
Hello summer. Ready for hot days at the beach, pool, park or a classic backyard barbecue. Another memorable and less fun summer staple? More sweat. You may feel like those sweat-soaked shirts and sweat stains are a disgrace, but sweating actually serves a purpose. “The main reason we sweat is thermoregulation, the control of body temperature,” explains Brian Ginsberg, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Chelsea Skin & Laser and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “If we get too hot, sweating helps cool the body,” he says. Although sweating also helps to hydrate the skin and maintain our fluid-electrolyte balance, according to Dr. Ginsberg’s end result — those wet patches all over your body — cause embarrassment and discomfort.
Shahinaz Soliman, MD, family physician, owner of Soliman Care Family Practice Center in Torrance, California, and owner of Shantique Med Spa, explains, “The body has two to four million sweat glands in the armpits, feet, palms, groin, and forehead. When you sweat and it evaporates, it takes the heat with it.”
However, there is no need to go through uncontrollable dampness in the summer. Follow these simple solutions to sweat less and keep your cool in the summer.
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Apply antiperspirant at night
Deodorant and antiperspirant can be considered interchangeable, but they each have different uses. “Deodorants alone are just fragrances, while antiperspirants serve to reduce sweating,” explains Dr. Ginsberg, adding, “In particular, antiperspirants contain an ingredient that plugs into the sweat glands. Prescription antiperspirants do this more effectively.”
Nikhil Dhingra, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City agrees, saying, “Antiperspirant! Use it; it’s inexpensive and very effective at reducing the odor-causing apocrine sweat. This requires the use of aluminum in your antiperspirant, which essentially interacts with sweat to create a salt that physically blocks the exit for sweat, and this can last for several hours.”
To get the most out of your antiperspirant, apply to dry skin in the evening. “Your antiperspirant (with or without deodorant) should be applied at night when your sweat production is at its lowest so it has the best chance of actually blocking those sweat glands,” explains Dr. Dhingra, which also recommends people with sensitive skin to avoid fragrances due to the thinness of the underarm skin. “Using deodorising, fragrance-rich products is generally best avoided, as the alcohol-based fragrances are usually the main culprit of itchy, irritating reactions from deodorants.” (Here are 11 homemade deodorant recipes.)
Use a hair dryer after applying deodorant
Especially sweaty? dr. Ginsberg recommends using a hair dryer after applying deodorant, on the cool setting. He adds, “High-quality antiperspirants should be applied at night, first every night, then distributed at the required frequency. If desired, a non-medicated deodorant can be added in the morning.”
Avoid food and drinks that make you sweat
While an ice cold beer or a chilled glass of rosé may seem like a perfect drink for a hot summer day, neither is the best choice for those who sweat easily. “Alcohol is a common cause of heavy sweating,” explains Dr. Dhingra, advising avoiding both alcohol and caffeine (which can also stimulate sweating), recommending drinks with electrolytes instead.
Spicy foods are another category to avoid. “Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods are the trinity of sweat-inducing foods to minimize when you sweat heavily,” says Dr. dhingra. “Alcohol and caffeine stimulate the production of adrenaline, which will increase your sweat production quite quickly; this is certainly most pronounced for those diagnosed with hyperhidrosis, otherwise known as excessive sweating.
dr. Ginsberg isn’t too concerned about food — with certain exceptions. “Diet usually doesn’t significantly affect sweating, except in the case of taste sweats: the tiny beads of sweat on the forehead, nose, and lip after eating hot, spicy foods,” explains Dr. Ginsberg out. (Here are nine things your sweat says about your health.)
Try Botox for Excessive Sweating
Do you think Botox is just for wrinkles? Think again. The popular injectable has been officially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of hyperhidrosis.
“Botox can be used effectively for excessive sweating in certain areas, including the armpits, groin, scalp/hairline, and in skin folds such as under the breasts,” explains Nancy Samolitis, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and owner of Facile Dermatology and Boutique. in West Hollywood, California. “It is injected into the affected area and starts working within one to two weeks and can last for about four months. It is very safe when used for sweating, but it is important to be examined by a doctor before being treated.
One note: Make sure you’re getting Botox and not an alternative injectable like Dysport or Xeomin, neither of which have been established safe for the treatment of hyperhidrosis, according to the FDA.
Getting a Prescription to Treat Hyperhidrosis
If over-the-counter (OTC) methods don’t work for getting rid of sweat, consider seeing your doctor. “You may have hyperhidrosis, which is sweating more than what is considered an average normal amount,” says Dr. dhingra.
“A misconception regarding this diagnosis is that people with hyperhidrosis permanently sweat excessively,” explains Dr. Dhingra out. “This excessive perspiration can certainly be exacerbated or unbearable in the summer months compared to the cooler months where OTC products are sufficient,” he says. In other words, just because you sweat excessively in the summer doesn’t mean it’s a problem year-round, even if you occasionally need medical intervention. Of course, it could also be another medical condition — such as pregnancy, menopause, an infection, or even heart disease or certain cancers — that also cause the excess sweat, adds Dr. Soliman, making a doctor’s visit a good bet for safety.
Oral drugs to reduce sweat
Options range from topical wipes to prescription topical medications to pills to help reduce sweat. “Oral medications (glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin) can be prescribed to reduce sweating, especially if it’s excessive,” says Dr. Ginsberg. While the remedies are usually effective, they may have side effects, such as dry mouth, dry eyes, and headaches, says Dr. Ginsberg.
New Drugs for Sweat Control
New remedies are also promising. “There is also a relatively new topic called Qbrexza that provides medication that blocks the stimulation of sweat glands by acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that Botox prevents from being released,” explains Dan Belkin, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York. and clinical assistant professor, Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, in New York City. And as a last resort, surgeries also exist to remove the sweat glands under the armpits to treat hyperhidrosis, adds Dr. Solidarity to it.
Laser treatment for armpits
Another reason to see a doctor: lasers can be an effective remedy for summer sweats. “There is a very effective laser procedure called Miradry that destroys both the sweat glands (eccrine) and the scent glands (apocrine) in the forearm in a permanent or semi-permanent way,” says Dr. Belkin.
Unlike certain other methods, Miradry is only designed for the underarms, but it has added bonuses, including hair removal: “This is only for the underarms where many people sweat excessively – sweating more than is needed for temperature regulation. It also reduces hair loss.” in the area,” says Dr. Belkin. (Here’s the truth about sweat causing body odor.)
Wear breathable clothing to avoid overheating
While it may seem obvious, one of the easiest ways to avoid sweating in the summer is to stay cool in the first place. “Since sweat is caused by heat, the easiest way to avoid sweating is to avoid overheating,” explains Dr. Ginsberg out. “This includes wearing lightweight and breathable clothing, finding shaded or air-conditioned environments, and not exerting yourself too much.” Look for fabrics that promote airflow, such as cotton, linen, or blends, and avoid fabrics such as nylon, polyester, or denim. (Swap your denim pieces for chambray instead.)
“Sleeveless clothing like dresses, if you’re comfortable with that, will keep you much cooler than occlusive, warm clothing,” says Dr. Dhingra, adding, “Allow the feet to breathe too; cooler feet can efficiently lower your overall body temperature, so avoid thick socks and bulky shoes during the warm months.” (Here’s how to get the sweat smell out of clothes.)