It’s a pleasant 70 degrees in your office. Your neck begins to feel sweaty and your forehead is hot. Are these hot flashes? But you’re too young for hot flashes, right? So, why are you sweating all the time? Is there such a thing as too much sweat and what can you do?
Where Does Sweat Come From?
First things first, where does sweat come from? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the body has between 2 to 4 million sweat glands. There are two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine.1
Eccrine glands are located all over the body and produce a light sweat with no odor. Apocrine glands are typically near hair follicles on the armpits and groin. Those glands secrete heavy sweat, which often contains nutrients, and may produce an odor once it mixes with the bacteria on the skin, notes the National Women’s Health Resource Center.2
Glands are controlled by the nervous system, which is a system that acts without your conscious, because why would anyone actively choose to sweat? When the body temperature rises, because you are in a hot environment, experiencing stress, exercising or having a hormone fluctuation, the nervous system spurs glands to sweat to help cool you down.
Do Hormones Play a Role?
Hormones affect how the body regulates temperature. Estrogen surges and dips, especially nearing puberty, during pregnancy and around menopause, and may cause you to feel sweaty at inopportune times, explains the National Women’s Health Resource Center. Hot flashes are a classic menopause symptom, but women can experience that flushed feeling at any age. The low estrogen levels may cause sweating and night sweats.3
What Can Make You Too Sweaty?
There are some instances when excessive sweating is not normal and may indicate your body is not functioning appropriately. Hyperhidrosis and hyperthyroidism are two of those.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition where a person may sweat too much. The body sweats when it doesn’t need cooling, indicates the American Academy of Dermatology.4 The person can sweat from the palms, feet, armpits and head, while the rest of the body is completely dry.
Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine condition that affects the thyroid gland, indicates the Mayo Clinic. The thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, thyroxine. The body then ramps up its metabolism, causing sweating, rapid heartbeat, weight loss and other symptoms.5
This is a problem that goes beyond the smelly and uncomfortable factor. Sweating a lot may cause skin infections because the skin never gets the chance to dry. Also, sweating so much may interfere with your daily life and confidence. Like, you may opt for a black outfit head to toe to mask damp spots. Or you may feel so self-conscious that you don’t raise your hand to answer a question in class.
What Can You Do?
If you think you are experiencing excessive sweating, contact your doctor to determine if you have a hormonal imbalance or one of these conditions. Here are a few things you can do at home while you wait for your appointment:
- Shower daily and wear deodorant.
- Wear loose, moisture-wicking clothing or breathable fabrics like cotton.
- Wash your hands, armpits and face before a workout to unclog your sweat glands.
- Try relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation. The Mayo Clinic indicates these techniques may help calm your sweat response.6
If this women’s health topic speaks to you, sign up for our newsletter to connect with Change the Cycle’s online community for women with abnormal uterine bleeding.
1Hansen, J. “The Science of Sweat.” American College of Sports Medicine. May 22, 2013. https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/endocrine/hormones.html
2Liotta, Elizabeth A., M.D. “Healthy Living, Stress Sweat.” http://www.healthywomen.org/content/ask-expert/8989/stress-sweat
3Feintuch, Stacey. “Could You Have Low Estrogen?” http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/could-you-have-low-estrogen
4“Hyperhidrosis: Overview.” American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/dry-sweaty-skin/hyperhidrosis
5“Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), Definition.” Mayo Clinic. October 28, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/basics/definition/con-20020986/
6“Hyperhidrosis: Lifestyle and home remedies.” Mayo Clinic. August 18, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperhidrosis/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20030728