Dry And Doesn't Smell At All: Why Are We Embarrassed To Sweat

Health 2022

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Dry And Doesn't Smell At All: Why Are We Embarrassed To Sweat
Dry And Doesn't Smell At All: Why Are We Embarrassed To Sweat

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We have heard from childhood about giving deodorants or shower gels obscene because it is taken as a hint of lack of proper hygiene. But between the smell of a person who hasn't taken a shower for a couple of months, and the perfect dryness of the armpits in a tight white dress, there are a lot of intermediate options. To what extent is it “acceptable” in society to sweat? Do I need to worry about wet spots under my arms? And why is it commendable to work "by the sweat of your brow" only in words, but in fact it is considered indecent?

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Why do we sweat and that's okay

Sweating is a powerful thermoregulatory mechanism that protects the body from overheating. Evaporation from the surface of the skin, the secretions of the sweat glands cool us. This is why people who are unable to sweat have a dramatic increase in the risk of heatstroke. The sweat glands respond to signals from the brain about increased temperature, as well as hormonal signals and neurotransmitters produced during stress. In general, men sweat a little more than women, and a definitive explanation for this has not yet been found. According to one theory, ancient male hunters were forced to adapt to prolonged exposure to the scorching sun, which led to more intense sweating. However, hormonal differences are likely to be the reason why men sweat more than women on average. The final answer to the question of why this is happening remains to be seen by scientists. Of course, we are talking about the average man and woman, and do not forget about individual differences. The normal range is very wide, and two completely healthy people with normal hormonal levels can sweat in different ways.

There is also the problem of hyperhidrosis - a condition in which a person sweats many times stronger than average. Hyperhidrosis can be primary when the hyperfunction of the sweat glands occurs on its own, and secondary when it is caused by other conditions or diseases - for example, menopause, diabetes, obesity, or stress. Taking certain medications can also increase sweating. Stress hyperhidrosis is one of the most difficult situations, a state according to the principle of a "vicious circle": a person worries that he will sweat in public, and sweat even more from excitement.

When we go in for sports, we do not hesitate to sweat and even proudly talk about it: "The new coach gave such a load that after three minutes my whole back was wet." Active sweating is associated with high-quality training, and also with healing and cleansing the body of toxins, even mythical ones (in fact, toxins are excreted primarily with urine and feces, and not with sweat). No one wrinkles their nose when they hear that at high temperatures it doesn’t hurt to “sweat” properly under the covers. We go to saunas and baths specifically to get a good sweat, and we regard this as part of proper self-care. Persistent expressions associated with sweat also do not indicate that it is something bad. "Works in the sweat of his brow" means hardworking and diligent; money earned by "sweat and blood" is honestly deserved.

Where did the prejudice about sweat come from?

So why, if sweating is good, is there the stigma associated with wet spots on clothes, beads of sweat on your forehead, and damp palms? When does useful cease to be decent? Where did the cult of perfectly dry armpits come from? From the same place, whence the cult of the absence of cellulite or wrinkles around the eyes. It is known that the task of marketing is not just to sell something needed, but to make the buyer think that he needs this particular thing. Advertising presents us with antiperspirants as something vital: "the T-shirt is dry and does not smell at all" is "cool and right", which means that a wet T-shirt is something indecent.Typical advertisements for deodorants or sweat pads are based on the fact that being a living person with normal physiological functions is a shame. We buy deodorants one by one and the damn wet spots keep popping up. They caught someone's pensive glance - and that's it, hello, complexes, "for sure everyone is looking at me because I'm sweating."

Sweating is presented in this light without any reason - as a matter of course. In the US, during pre-election debates, where all means are good, Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that another candidate, Marco Rubio, sweats too much: “He is all wet, as if he just got out of the pool! When we deal with Putin, we need people who don't sweat. " Gloss and films also do not reduce the degree. Women in leadership positions are portrayed in bright dresses of perfectly fitting cut, including in the armpit area. Probably, modern business culture idealizes people who are deprived of not only emotional, but also physiological reactions; we are invited to become in some way robots who do not feel sad, do not menstruate and, of course, do not sweat. And since it is not accepted to discuss this issue in society, many begin to think that other people really sweat much less (even the designer of the British Queen confirmed in an interview that Her Majesty never sweats).

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How to behave and why you shouldn't be shy

Excessive sweating can cause serious inconvenience - from a pen slipping out of the fingers and unremovable stains on clothes to the embarrassment of giving a hand when meeting someone or fear of speaking in public. Half of patients with axillary (axillary) hyperhidrosis are unsure of themselves due to sweating, and 20% suffer from depression. Among people with palmar hyperhidrosis, 77% are embarrassed to shake hands, and 90%, that is, almost everyone, feels uncomfortable in social situations. Women with hyperhidrosis are often embarrassed to see a doctor, because in society it is generally accepted that "ladies do not sweat."

What to do with all this? First, try not to be complex and not shy. People are not robots - everyone sweats. The range of normal sweating is very wide: according to various sources, the normal amount of sweat per day can range from 500 ml to 15 liters. Therefore, you should not attribute hyperhidrosis to yourself if from time to time in the heat the T-shirt sticks to your back or your palms sweat slightly from excitement.

Secondly, it should be remembered that our armpits, like all other parts of the body, are our own business, and the fight against sweating is not for social, but for practical reasons. After all, the risk of ruining your cashmere T-shirt is a good reason to look for a great deodorant. We have already talked about how to choose the right one, found out the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants and understood the myths and facts about the dangers of these products for health. In any case, everyone determines for himself the acceptable level of natural odor, so do not torment yourself with embarrassment in front of others: perhaps they should think about their prejudices in this regard.

If you suspect you have hyperhidrosis, see your doctor - this can help identify conditions that require treatment. Correction of this condition can lead to the elimination of symptoms, that is, excessive sweating. Primary hyperhidrosis, especially local rather than generalized hyperhidrosis, is corrected by clinical antiperspirants or Botox injections. Finally, if someone close to you is suffering from hyperhidrosis or stress sweating, try to be supportive. Remember, this condition is difficult to control. A wet palm when shaking hands is not a reason to despise a person, not a sign of viral diseases and not evidence of insufficient hygiene.

Amy Roh, a journalist for The Guardian, was shamed for wet hair after training and wrote about it: "The female body is surrounded by powerful taboos, but their strength does not compare with the strength I feel after a run." We shouldn't be ashamed of being alive and that our bodies are functioning. And it's good that the phrase "Ladies don't sweat, they glisten" ("Ladies don't sweat, but shine") from an instructively reproachful attitude turns into an ironic inscription on the girls' T-shirts in the gym.

Photos: Suddora, Luisa Leal - stock.adobe.com

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