Dear Ms. KnowBody,
I got my period last May and it was cool, but ever since then I have been having a problem with sweating under my arms. The sweat gets all over my shirt even though I use antiperspirant deodorant! What is wrong with me? Please help.
Do you want to know how normal you are? Just visit any drug store and you will see an entire aisle dedicated to the sale of deodorants and antiperspirants.
Each year Americans spend about $700 million on deodorants, antiperspirants, skin creams, lotions, and other stuff to make ourselves smell nice.
Sweating is a normal and necessary process that helps your body maintain its temperature (about 98.6 degrees). Concerns about excessive sweating usually start during puberty when the glands under your arms start to produce sweat, and you notice a funky new odor coming from your armpits.
Here's what is going on: when your body gets too warm - from heat, exercise or stress -- your brain sends a signal to your sweat glands to secrete salt. The salt attracts water away from the blood and cells in your body. The extra water and salt seep out onto your skin and then get evaporated into the air, causing the skin to cool down.
Now, a little bit about body odor. I already said that sweat is mostly water and salt, neither of whichsmell badly. Body odor actually comes from the interaction between the bacteria that lives on your skin (it's totally normal for them to be there) and sweat.
Tips For Dealing With Excess Sweating
- Use an antiperspirant and deodorant. The deodorant will reduce the bacteria on your skin and the antiperspirant will reduce the amount of sweat.
- Using powder can help cut the amount of wetness under your arms.
- Wear a dark colored shirt.
- Try to relax during stressful situations – do some breathing exercises (See below) and work to calm yourself.
- Remember that you are going through some pretty big changes in your body – give your hormones some time to adjust.
If none of these strategies help, and you still feel like your excess sweating is abnormal, contact your health care provider. There is a condition called hyperhydrosis that causes excessive sweating and must be treated by a doctor.
There are so many healthy ways to relax, it should not be hard to find something that works for you. Some people relax while listening to music, reading a good book, taking a bubble bath, or watching a funny movie. These are great things to do when you are at home, but sometimes you feel stressed and cannot physically leave the situation, like when you're in class or taking a test. At times like these, try this quick and easy exercise:
- Sit with your feet comfortably on the floor.
- Place your hands on your belly.
- Close your eyes (if you can).
- Focus only on your breathing.
- Take a deep breath in, feeling your belly rise under your hands.
- Let the breath out feeling your belly flatten under your hands.
Continue to focus on breathing in and out. Follow your breath in your mind, saying to yourself, Breath in, breath out.
Here's a fun breathing exercise which can really help you to relax or get rid of a tension headache. You may not want to do this one during class, read on and see what I mean.
- Sit with your feel comfortably on the floor.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb.
- Inhale slowly through your left nostril.
- Now, close your left nostril with your finger and open your right nostril by removing your thumb.
- Exhale slowly through your right nostril.
- Inhale through your right nostril.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb and open your left nostril.
- Exhale through your left nostril. Inhale through your left nostril.
- Repeat 5-10 times.