Body odor and sweating: They’re common but embarrassing problems among teens and adults. So what to do? Get skin care solutions from YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens: A Guide to a Healthy Body and Happy Life, by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
If you smell funkier than a Black Eyed Peas track, there’s probably a good explanation. But the actual composition of your sweat is based on your genes and the food you eat. For instance, garlic will pass quickly into your skin and share itself with others. Also, our major sweat glands, or eccrine glands, release a sterile solution that attracts smelly bacteria in some people. These secretions are stored in coiled circular glands that cover our entire skin surface. Washing frequently helps, but sometimes a quick course of topical antibiotics, from your doctor, followed by a probiotic is the best anti-odor solution.
I sweat so much that I soak my shirt, and it’s really embarrassing. What can I do?
Hyperhidrosis, or excess sweating, is a common plight among teens and adults. It can happen in the armpits, feet, palms, face, or elsewhere, and can be embarrassing if it occurs at an inopportune time. While it’s not the most embarrassing thing that will ever happen, we understand that it’s a real problem that people like to have fixed. For whatever reason, supersweaters have more active sweat glands than most people. You can get prescription antiperspirants that contain higher concentrations of aluminum hydroxide or aluminum chloride than ordinary deodorant, such as Drysol (20 percent) or Certain Dri (12 percent). These can be applied three nights a week at bedtime and washed off in the morning. After it is working well, it can be applied once or twice a week (and still washed off in the morning) for three to six months until sweat production has subsided. Most people can then back off and not use any of the medicine for another three to six months, then repeat the cycle.
Some folks will get a red itchy rash with these — it’s less likely if you don’t shave immediately before applying. If no response is seen despite using three times a week, you can actually apply the antiperspirant, wrap the area in plastic wrap, then unwrap it in the morning and wash off with soap and water. Keep this up several times a week until those sweat glands calm down.
If these strategies are not working, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon can inject the area with botulinum toxin type A, better known as Botox, which will paralyze the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. Injections need to be repeated one to three times a year. You can also have the sweat glands destroyed surgically, but very rarely is that kind of drastic procedure needed.
- Browse more books by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
- Browse more books about teen health
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