Have you ever found yourself uncomfortable in public, speaking in front of others, or on a date, only to find your body seemingly betrays you as your armpits become moist and the smell of your sweat fills the air around you, adding to your nervousness? You may be experiencing hyperhidrosis, or stress sweating, due to your anxiety.
At the time, it might seem extremely embarrassing and inconvenient. But believe it or not, it's actually quite natural and very common. And best of all, there are ways you can reduce and even completely eliminate stress sweat once and for all. We'll go over all of that and more below.
The Difference Between Stress Sweat And Regular Stress
Stress sweating (or nervous sweating) is something that we all experience at some point, though it happens to some of us more than others. According to Dr. Pamela Dalton, common armpit sweat is produced by eccrine glands, which are everywhere and active during exercise. Stress sweat on the other hand, is produced by the apocrine glands, located in the armpits, feet, and the groin area.
Regular sweating is your body's attempt to regulate its temperature by cooling the skin. Stress sweating happens during times of excessive nervousness and even for no reason at all, but is accompanied by a foul odor.
What Causes Stress Sweat?
Stress and sweating are not always related, but more often than not, any number of external stressors could be the cause of your profuse sweating. Apocrine glands activate in response to psychological stresses like your job, dating life, or any other performance-based situation. Stress-induced sweat can be triggered by loud noises, pain, mental challenges, or any other types of emotional, sensory, or mental stimulation.
Why Stress Sweat Smells
Normal sweat glands (eccrine) mainly consist of water and sodium. Stress sweat glands (apocrine) have a much stronger odor because they excrete more nutrients like lipids, fats, and proteins. According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, these extra nutrients come into contact with naturally-occurring bacteria on the skin's surface, creating that inconvenient bodily fragrance.
Many theorize, including Monell Chemical Senses Center member and American Chemical Society affiliate Dr. George Preti, that humans evolved to produce this odor as a way to communicate to our peers that something is very wrong.
If you find yourself struggling with stress sweat at the most inconvenient times, here are six ways to reduce stress sweat:
Try These Tips to Reduce Stress Sweating
1. Avoid Sweat Triggers
An easy, but inconvenient, way to combat your stinky stress sweat odor is by steering clear of any situations that seem to bring it about. But you can't just avoid going to interviews, or else you'd end up homeless, but then why would you care how you smell?
Though it may seem to cool your nerves, having a drink during a date may cause undue stress, as alcohol is a common trigger for stress sweating. Also, consider ordering something that isn't spicy for dinner, as spicy foods have been found to trigger the smelly sweat release, as well.
Nicotine has also been shown to cause stress sweating, but the stench of smoking alone would be off-putting.
Similarly, you can also work on identifying your stress triggers. While some will be unavoidable, there will be some that you can completely remove from your life. For instance, if someone in your life constantly adds stress to your day, address the issue or distance yourself from them.
Check out our video below for more tips on identifying and overcoming your stressors.
2. Wear Natural Fibers That Let Your Skin Breathe
Sometimes, just a simple change in clothing could potentially rid you of your stinky ailment. Clothing that fits too tightly and/or creates excessive heat can encourage all types of sweating. Try out some clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton or silk.
Avoid products made with rayon, as rayon repels water and traps the moisture against your skin. Instead, look for clothing made of linen, another natural fiber, which is very absorbent, dries quickly, and isn't too clingy. When choosing stretching and form-fitting clothing, be sure to choose moisture-wicking fabrics instead of cotton/spandex, as the latter will leave you soaking in your own sweat. According to Bustle, not even denim is safe, as the sweat-sufferers are better off opting for chambray.
Sweating Through Your Shirt? Try Thompson Tee Sweat Proof Undershirts!
3. Stay Hydrated
All of this sweat has to be coming from somewhere, right? Every drop of sweat is water leaving the body. Excessive sweating dehydrates the body, so you should make sure to drink plenty of fluids to maintain a healthy, regulated body.
According to the Institute of Medicine, men should drink around 13 cups a day, whereas women should drink around 9 cups a day. If you're exercising often, you should be drinking several cups more to replenish the water you've lost from the extra sweating.
4. Carry Pocket Tissues With You
Stress sweating will always happen to some extent, but this is easily handled. Bring along a few pocket tissues in your wallet or purse next time you're going on a date, interview or other potentially stressful situations, or keep a box handy in your desk at work. If you find yourself feeling that all too familiar warmth, just excuse yourself to a restroom momentarily to pat dry the uncomfortable areas. People around you will have no idea, and you'll be much more at ease knowing that you don't stink.
5. Get Some Fresh Air
During particularly intense situations, sometimes the only solution is to step away and calm down. Anxiety is the main cause of stress sweating, and your mind can only take so much before your body starts to get involved. Try taking a step outside and calming your nerves for a bit before returning to the situation.
During this time, it helps to envision places that bring feelings of relaxation and comfort, while focusing on slowing your breathing. It helps to do this during any time of stress, but is more necessary when your odor is on the line. To de-stress in a cinch, follow along in this video from Niomi Smarts.
6. Use Stress Sweat Deodorant & Antiperspirant
The simplest and most effective way to deal with your stress sweating is to use a deodorant/antiperspirant that is made specifically to combat sweating from stress.
For women, the best stress sweat deodorant, for price and value, is the Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid Women's Antiperspirant and Deodorant Stress Response. It releases a nice fragrance whenever the sweat begins, simultaneously holding back the bad odors. It's also doctor-recommended, which is reassuring since a bad product would end in a smelly situation for you.
For men, the best option seems to be the Nivea for Men Stress Protect Roll-On. Not only does it get the job done, it leaves you smelling fresh, so you'll have the confidence to continue your day.
Men's and women's products can be used by both men and women, and unless someone sees your stick, no one will know differently.
Don't Sweat Your Stress Sweat
It's perfectly understandable to be concerned about stress sweating. It's inconvenient and can be embarrassing at times. But when you realize that it's something most people go through (some just hide it better than others) it's much easier to deal with.
Plus, with the six tips we've mentioned, you should notice a significant reduction in the amount of stress sweat you experience. Just try to keep it cool, calm and as stress free as possible.