What is Sweat?
There are many things people have in common, one of them being the fact that we all sweat. While sweating can be unpleasant and uncomfortable in many instances, it is a natural and healthy bodily function.
Sweat is produced by around 4 million sweat glands located all over the skin of your body. Sweat generally consists of proteins and lipids, although its exact composition is determined by which gland is excreting the sweat.
Why Do We Sweat?
The process of sweating is called perspiration and assists in keeping the body cool during physical activity, stress and pain.
The main reason for sweating is to regulate the temperature of your body – a process called thermoregulation. You can think of sweating as a natural air conditioning system in your body.
In addition to body temperature, there are other factors that cause you to perspire, including:
- Hot environments
- Physical activities
- Stress or related emotional feelings
- Eating spicy food
- Illness or infection
- Hormonal changes such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
How Do We Sweat?
Your brain sends signals to perspire, which releases sweat to the sweat glands throughout the body. As this fluid evaporates from your skin, it lowers your body temperature, causing you to cool down. Through perspiration, your body can release up to 14 litres of sweat per day.
Sweating is involuntary and controlled by the body’s autonomic nervous system, which is the part of your nervous system that is unconscious.
There are many different types of glands on your body, but two glands in particular are known for their sweat producing properties:
Eccrine glands – These glands produce most of your sweat and are activated soon after birth. Although the sweat produced from these glands is 99% water, it also contains salt, protein, ammonia, and urea. The eccrine glands cover your entire body, but they are particularly concentrated on the palms, armpits, forehead, and soles of your feet.
Apocrine glands – These glands are larger than Eccrine glands and are located on the armpits, groin and breast area. They produce the sweat most associated with body odour.
Your apocrine glands are activated during puberty and are found mainly in the armpits. You will notice that children going through puberty will start to smell as the sweat from apocrine glands is responsible for producing the smelliest body odour. Apocrine glands produce sweat during times of stress or strong emotions, pain, and exercise.
Sweating is a normal and healthy bodily function. In some cases, many people experience excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis. People suffering from excessive sweat may need to consider switching to a stronger antiperspirant like DRYSOL, which works to temporarily block the sweat ducts from reaching the surface of the skin. Other treatments include medication, natural remedies and even surgery. Excessive sweating, while problematic, can be treated, affording people with a higher quality of life.