25 Sweating Tips

When the heat is on -- or emotions are high -- sweating can be a problem and a source of embarrassment.

First, it's crucial to first see your doctor and rule out whether your sweating is normal or due to some underlying cause -- a medical condition, a medication -- that can be corrected or changed, says Dee Anna Glaser, MD, professor of dermatology at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., who often cares for patients with excessive sweating.

Once that's done, there are simple steps to help reduce sweating and boost your comfort level. Here are ways to cope with heavy sweating at the gym, on the job, and everywhere you go.

Stopping Heavy Sweating

Here are some tips for stopping your heavy sweating:

Switch to higher-strength deodorants and antiperspirants. Some are prescription only, but you can also get higher strength products over the counter, Glaser says.

Apply deodorants at the best time. "Most of these will work best at night," Glaser says. The active ingredient has to go down into the sweat duct and clog it. If you apply it in the morning, when sweat volume is typically higher, it washes off.

Save your skin. Applying deodorant at night also reduces the chance of skin irritations, Glaser says, and will keep you using it more faithfully.

Sweating During Exercise

There are several ways to deal with sweating during exercise:

Dress to thwart sweat. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics, such as cottons, Glaser says.

Splurge on ''athletic" clothes. In recent years, clothing for athletes has improved, with new breathable fabrics, Glaser says. Look for those that wick away moisture. The labels typically feature the fabric characteristics prominently.

Wear it once. Don't put on a t-shirt or bike shorts that are soaked with sweat. You need to start out dry to stay dry. Your skin will thank you, too.

Change footwear often. If sweaty feet are a particular problem, be sure to change your shoes and socks often. 

Dust away sweat. Use powders meant for the feet to keep foot moisture and sweat at a minimum.


Sweating on the Job

To cope with sweating on the job, experts recommend these steps:

Tote along deodorant or antiperspirants. Reapply them in the middle of the day -- or before a stressful meeting, advises dermatologist Eric Schweiger, MD, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York City.

Dress in layers year-round. For men, wearing an undershirt can help soak up some of the sweat, Schweiger says. Women could wear an absorbent camisole top or dress shields.

Choose clothing in looser weaves. ''The tighter the weaver, the hotter the clothes," Farris says. Instead, select clothes with a looser weave such as linens. Silk is a fabric to avoid, she says, because it makes you feel hotter.

Pocket a handkerchief. If you keep one in your pocket or purse, you can wipe off excess sweat quickly before you need to shake hands.

Skip the spicy lunches. Eating certain foods, such as hot peppers, can affect the amount of sweat you produce. Eating other foods, including onions and garlic, can make your sweat smell worse. So no matter how good that hot jalapeno pizza lunch special looks, try to pass.

Sweating Through Your Clothes

The right clothes can be an ally in the battle against heavy sweating. Experts' tips include:

Become a label reader. Look for clothing labels that say the fabric is the type that wicks away moisture, Glaser says. Or look for clothing with high cotton content.

Pick colors wisely. "'White will show more sweat," Schweiger says. But it won't be as visible on other colors, nor on prints or patterns.

Buy ''breathable" shoes. That will reduce sweat, and it's important especially if your feet are generally sweaty, Glaser says.

Skip hats. Keeping your head cool is as important as keeping your feet cool in the anti-sweat war, Glaser says.

Tote a wardrobe change. If you carry an extra shirt or blouse to work or a social function, or always leave a quick change in your car, you can wipe and wash away sweat when necessary, then change to fresh clothes -- or at least from the waist up.

Nighttime Sweating

To combat nighttime sweating, follow these strategies:

Pick bed linens wisely. Look for breathable, lightweight fabrics for year round, says Patricia Farris, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University in New Orleans and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Skip the down comforter, even in winter. Opt for a lighter bedspread, Farris suggests.

Pick sheets that are absorbent. The best fabrics are plain cotton, not silk or flannel, Farris says.

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