While there is a wide range in how much people sweat, in general the average person sweats between 0.5-2 liters an hour during physical activity. But according to some studies, people may lose a minimum of 3 liters a day, even without moving around all that much.
How much you sweat depends on various factors. Learn about what can affect your sweat, why we sweat, and how much sweat is too much.
What factors can influence how much you sweat a day?
Sweat production depends on:
- Gender: Men sweat more than women due to factors such as a higher body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, and hormones.
- Environment: You sweat more when you are in a hot, humid climate.
- BMI: Obese people tend to sweat more than people with a normal BMI.
- Medications: Certain antidepressants and mood stabilizers often cause increased sweating.
- Hormonal and metabolic imbalances: Hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, anxiety, and menopause can cause an increase in sweat production.
- Medical conditions: Tuberculosis, stroke, and certain types of blood cancer may also cause excess sweating.
Is it good or bad to sweat a lot?
Sweating is your body’s response to high temperatures. When your temperature rises, your brain signals your sweat glands to release sweat. As sweat evaporates, this creates a cooling effect that lowers the body's internal temperature. So it’s normal to sweat in the hotter months, after exercising, when anxious, when stressed, after eating spicy food, or when you have a fever.
Your sweat plays a role in maintaining your skin’s epidermal barrier, delivering moisture and certain antimicrobial peptides from the glands to the surface. Recent studies have suggested that sweat glands produce antimicrobial substances called dermcidin, cathelicidin, and lactoferrin that may defend your body against skin infections.
Moreover, sweating has evolutionary significance. When you are anxious, your body responds with a flight or fight response. For example, your palms may produce sweat, improving your grip in these circumstances.
So when does sweating too much become a problem?
- While sweat alone doesn’t have an odor, it can start to smell bad once it lingers on the skin, since bacteria on your skin’s surface can break down the chemicals in your sweat.
- Although harmless, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) can cause embarrassment as it is often associated with social stigmas.
- Allowing excess sweat to stay on the skin for long periods of time may cause the skin to get infected with bacteria, causing boils and rash.
- People who sweat excessively are prone to fungal infections of the skin.
- Excessive sweating may cause loss of water and salts from the body, increasing the risk of dehydration.
How to manage excessive sweating
If excess sweating is secondary to infections, hormonal imbalances, or metabolic causes, it’s important to first properly treat the underlying condition. Sweating caused by menopause typically improves with hormonal replacement therapy.
General tips for managing excessive sweating may include:
- Maintaining healthy weight recommended for your age and height
- Wearing loose cotton clothing
- Bathing frequently
- Using gel-based or oil-free makeup
- Applying topical creams, sprays, or wipes containing aluminum chloride
In more severe cases, treatment may include:
- Iontophoresis, a process in which low-level electric current is used to reduce sweat gland activity
- Oral medications called anticholinergics
- Botox injections over the face and scalp
- MiraDry® system, a noninvasive microwave treatment approved by the FDA in 2011 for excessive armpit sweating
- Surgery targeting the nerves that control sweat glands
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aluminum chloride topicalAluminum chloride topical is a medication used as an antiperspirant to manage excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) and to control minor bleeding and/or growth of excessive new tissue (granulation tissue) in the wound healing process, after a nail or callus debridement. Common side effects of aluminum chloride topical include skin irritation, burning sensation, prickling sensation, transient stinging, and itching (pruritus). Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
aluminum hydrochlorideAluminum hydrochloride is sold in solution or in over-the-counter deodorants and antiperspirants. Aluminum hydrochloride is used to prevent excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) by reducing the activity and perhaps shrinking the sweat glands. The most common side effects of aluminum hydrochloride are irritation of the skin, itching, and tingling of the skin. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Anticholinergic and Antispasmodic DrugsAnticholinergic or antispasmodic drugs include prescription medications used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Review anticholinergic drug side effects, drug interactions, storage, dosing, and pregnancy and safety information prior to taking this medication.
decongestant/antihistamine/anticholinergic - oral
How Do I Know if I Have Hyperhidrosis?If you find yourself sweating excessively even when you're not very hot, you may have hyperhidrosis. This condition affects about 3% of the world population'. People with hyperhidrosis tend to sweat when they're at rest and not exerting themselves.
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You may experience other signs and symptoms that are associated with night sweats, which depend upon the cause, but may include, shaking, and chills with a fever caused by an infection like the flu or pneumonia; unexplained weight loss due to lymphoma; women in perimenopause or menopause may also have vaginal dryness, mood swings, and hot flashes during the day; and low blood sugar in people with diabetes.
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