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Regardless of whether you have focal hyperhidrosis or if you tend to sweat easily, you should be aware of well known sweat triggers. Avoiding these perspiration culprits will help you stay drier and help avoid or minimize sweating, especially in social settings.
Make sure you click the "What Are Your Triggers" icon before leaving the page. We are collecting our visitors' sweat triggers and will eventually share these with all of you in our Sweating Matters blog.
Meeting someone for a coffee? You may want to consider iced tea or at least a decaffeinated drink. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the nervous system which in turn can activate sweat glands. The heat from your coffee will also temporarily elevate your internal core temperature which signals the brain to send "start sweating now" messages to your eccrine sweat glands.
Wearing clothes made with synthetic fabrics such s polyester or acrylic. These fabrics are 'poor conductors' of sweat. They do not allows sweat to evaporate as well other fabrics made from natural fibers. For presentation or important meetings, your go to shirts should be made of cotton or silk. Keep in mind that some synthetic fabrics are sweat friendly and are made of moisture-wicking materials (e.g. athletic apparel)
You might want to be very selective next time you are in an Indian restaurant. Spicy hot foods are bound to get your sweat glands going. These foods are made with a variety of hot peppers which contain a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin is a sweat gland Trojan horse, and fools the body in thinking that its internal temperature is skyrocketing. The result is almost immediate sweating. Some individuals are particularly prone to facial sweating upon ingestion of specific foods. This is known as gustatory sweating.
What Are Your Sweat Triggers?
If you have sweat triggers that are not mentioned on this page we would love to hear from you. Just click the Sweat Triggers icon and record your triggers. We will share responses as they become available to us. Of course your response is 100% anonymous. Thanks for helping.
You have dry skin, you are trying to sunblock, or give yourself a self-tan. Creams (especially oil based) and body oils create a skin barrier to help skin keep its natural moisture. This is great for keeping the skin moist and supple but it interferes with water evaporation and will make you hotter and sweat more. If you need to apply a cream or sunblock, ask for or choose a water-based cream. It is less likely to occlude the skin or act as a barrier. As such, sweat will have an easily time to breakthrough. Having said this, be sure to always choose sweating over not blocking the sun's harmful rays. See our February 2013 blog for more on hyperhidrosis and sun blockers.
Hormone fluctuations will often cause hot flushes which in turn may exacerbate excessive sweating. PMS or the perimenopausal period is often accompanied by a drop in estrogen levels. This drop in estrogen is the cause of hot flushes. If these events become difficult to live with you can consult your physician. Low estrogen therapy or low dose oral contraceptives can go a long way to minimize these events. If you choose this option, make sure your doctor prescribes the lowest dose of estrogen possible. Doses can subsequently be increased if needed, depending on response. Estrogen containing products come in a variety of forms: oral tablets, skin patches, or topical gels.
Drinking alcohol often will trigger the sweat process. Alcohol is a vasodilator and the dilation of blood vessels liberates heat. In fact, vasodilation is a key mechanism is helping the body normalize its temperature. This doesn't mean you can't have a periodic social drink. However, it may be a good idea to gauge at what point alcohol begins to make you sweat. Cutting alcoholic drinks with club soda or mineral water can also help to minimize the effect of alcohol on your sweat glands.
The nicotine in cigarettes is often associated with an increase in sweating. Nicotine stimulates the nervous system and affects the concentration of certain hormones in your body. It also raises your heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn increase body temperature. Ironically, smoking cessation or nicotine withdrawal may also cause sweating. Keep in mind that this is a temporary side effect related to nicotine withdrawal, usually lasting at most, two weeks.
Last but not least, certain prescription drugs can cause you to sweat. Drug-induced hyperhidrosis is most often associated with anti-depressants, painkillers, and a variety of other drugs. If this effect become bothersome talk to your doctor or pharmacist about alternatives or the possibility of lowering the dose of your medication in efforts to minimize the sweating or hyperhidrosis.