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Why do we sweat?
Sweat is produced by dedicated sweat glands, and is a mechanism used primarily by
the body to reduce its internal temperature. There are two types of sweat gland in
the human body, the eccrine gland and the apocrine gland. The former regulates
body temperature, and is the primary source of excreted sweat, with the latter only
secreting under emotional stresses, rather than those involved with body
Eccrine sweat glands are controlled by the sympathetic nervous system and, when
the internal temperature of the body rises, secrete a salty, water-based substance to
the skin’s surface. This liquid then cools the skin and the body through evaporation,
storing and then transferring excess heat into the atmosphere.
Both the eccrine and apocrine sweat glands only appear in mammals and, if active
over the majority of the animal’s body, act as the primary thermoregulatory device.
Certain mammals only have eccrine glands in specific areas – such as paws and lips
– warranting the need to pant to control their temperature.
Underarm excessive sweating, also called axillary hyperhidrosis is an annoying,
embarrassing, and isolating problem (to say the least). From the discomfort of sweat
running down your sides, to the embarrassment of obvious sweat stains, to the fear of being
"discovered," excessive underarm sweating can feel like it's ruining your life.
The first line‐of‐defense against excessive underarm sweating are antiperspirants.
Antiperspirants are non‐invasive, topical (applied on top of your skin), and available in a
number of different strengths including "regular" over‐the‐counter products, "clinical
strength" over‐the‐counter products, and perhaps even prescription antiperspirants. If
antiperspirants don't give you the relief you need, your next option may be Botox (also
known as onabotulinumtoxinA).
The science behind sweetsmelling and sweat-free skin
Antiperspirants are deodorants that as well as masking body odour, also slow the
rate of sweat excretion. Today, antiperspirants are typically sold in a rollerball
applicator and are solid substances comprising several ingredients, including an
aluminium-based compound, wax, liquid emollients and natural scent enhancers.
The key to the sweat-blocking power, however, rests purely in the active aluminium
based compound that, in a typical commercial antiperspirant, makes up 10-25 per
cent of the ingredients.
Ions of this compound – examples of which include aluminium chlorohydrate and
aluminium chloride – are withdrawn into the cells that line the human body’s eccrine
gland ducts. The eccrine glands are responsible for producing the majority of the
body’s sweat and are located en masse in the armpits. As the compound’s ions are
absorbed into the ducts, they carry water with them, causing the ducts to bulge and
swell to a level which forces them shut.
As a consequence of this process, any sweat is directly blocked from being excreted
through the skin as it normally would. Once the eccrine ducts have been closed, the
other odourreducing/ masking ingredients then provide a thin coating to the skin’s
top layer. The gland ducts will remain closed until the water content both outside and
inside the gland cells reaches equilibrium – the cells can only absorb a fixed quantity
of water – and the cell content then begins to pass back out through osmosis.
Typically antiperspirants are designed to last for a period of hours, before a top-up is
needed. Rollerball antiperspirant applicators first appeared on the market in the