How to reduce stress sweat
There are a few reasons why the human body sweats. It can be in response to exercise, heat or stress. Let’s take a look at stress sweating. Here are few solutions that can help you take control of the situation.
Why do we sweat?
Sweating has two main functions. The first is to cool down the body when it overheats from physical exertion or when the ambient temperature is hot. When the body temperature rises, the millions of eccrine sweat glands located throughout the body gradually produce sweat.
The second function is to respond to a “threat”. When you’re anxious, your apocrine glands (located mainly in your armpits) suddenly start to sweat. This is also the type of sweat that usually causes unpleasant body odour. In the distant past, sweating in response to stressful situations was useful because it helped our ancestors get a better grip on a weapon to defend themselves. As for the unpleasant smell, its purpose could have been to ward off predators or signal danger to other members of the community.
Why does sweat smell bad?
The sweat secreted in a stressful situation contains 80% water and 20% lipids and proteins. The latter nourish and fuel bacteria present on the skin, which then convert these nutrients into waste. It’s the waste left on the skin that causes the smell you notice when you’re nervous or anxious. Sweat produced as a result of physical exertion or heat for its part contains approximately 99% water. Because this kind of sweat does not contain a lot of lipids or proteins, it is almost odourless.
A normal reaction to realizing you smell bad is usually an increase in stress, which can in turn produce more sweat. It’s a vicious cycle of stress (and sweat!) that can leave you feeling helpless. Another irony is that the fear of sweating and smelling bad can cause you to sweat. And when other people detect the odour, even subconsciously, they might start sweating too!
Eliminating body odour
In addition to showering or bathing daily, you can try the following simple strategies.
- Using a deodorant with aluminum salts is a good start. Our sweat glands absorb aluminum, creating a barrier that blocks sweat.
- Apply deodorant the night before a stressful situation. We generally sweat less during the night so the aluminum salts will be easily absorbed and the body will have more time to produce barriers. You can always reapply if needed!
- Learn to relax. Whether by focusing on your breathing for a few minutes, doing a few yoga poses, getting a massage or relying on aromatherapy, take the time to unwind and decrease your overall stress levels.