While it’s not something you necessarily want showing under your arms while they’re in a white tailored shirt, there’s a lot of cool facts behind sweat. There are even beauty products totally devoted to treating it in doses (hello, antiperspirant!). Below, are 10 interesting stats on sweat that you might want to know.
1. Sweat contains salt, which explains the slight burning sensation you may experience when you have a nick or a cut on the area that sweat is bypassing or that little tinge when it gets in your eyes. In some extreme cases after extreme workouts, athletes can experience what is called hyponatremia, which is a low concentration of sodium (aka salt) in your body. When you’re sweating for a long period of time, you’re losing that along with water. However, there isn’t enough research to correlate how much salt you intake and the sodium you lose while sweating.
2. You may have heard that sweating releases toxins, but that really might not be the case. An expert speaking to ‘Fitness’ explained that all you’re likely losing when you sweat is water, salt, and electrolytes—and that sweating isn’t linked to the other systems in the body. So if you’re worried that wearing antiperspirant traps toxins, it doesn’t seem like it should be that big of a concern.
3. Not all deodorants treat sweat the same way. For instance, the word “deodorant” is really self-explanatory. It’s masking the odor your body products. You can buy a deodorant that includes an antiperspirant, which blocks sweat from occurring. That’s not to say it’s going to stop sweat from happening everywhere—just the area to which the product is applied.
4. Excessive sweating can be treated with botox—the same substance people grab when they’re looking to hide wrinkles and fine lines. This substance is injected into the arm pits and used to block the neurotransmitter from activating the sweat glands. Because the neurotransmitter can’t get the signal, the sweat glands don’t release sweat. However, it’s not a permanent solution.
5. Sweating is a physiological process that works to cool down your body, hence why people refer to it as your “natural cooling system.” By releasing the sweat, your body is attempting to get itself back to its ideal body temperature.
6. When sweat is evaporated off the skin it takes heat with it, but may do so slower on humid days. Because of that, experts explain that you’re likely to feel hotter on humid days because the sweat (and therefore the heat) isn’t quickly evaporating. In extreme cases, if the humidity index is high enough, it’s said that your sweat system can shut off because it can’t do its job.
7. Besides being warm, there are plenty of triggers for sweat. The nervous system activates the sweat glands, which explains why you may sweat when feeling scared or really emotional. Anyone else remember that scene in ‘How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days’ where Andie Anderson conveniently places tissues under her arms? Sweating is also a normal function when you have a fever (the body’s cooling system, remember?) or when you’ve been drinking, as alcohol dilates blood vessels resulting in sweat production.
8. We have A LOT of sweat glands. It’s reported that we have between two and four million sweat glands, but women have more than males. However, guy’s sweat glands are more active than women’s, which might explain why you see dudes leaving the gym so drenched.
9. And there are two different kinds of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine. According to the Mayo Clinic, eccrine glands can be found all over your body but apocrine glands are generally found where there are a ton of hair follicles, like under your arms. These are said to empty a “milky fluid” into the hair follicle that can cause odor when it comes in contact with bacteria.
10. According to Dove, the average person can sweat up to 3 pints of sweat an hour in extreme heat. With that being said, when you sweat, you’re losing water—another reason to stay hydrated.