Don’t Sweat It! Tips for Taming Teen Sweating
Parents have been soaking up information from me regarding why their older children and teens sweat so much. Well let me see if I can dry up their concerns and provide some information on this topic.
Sweating is actually a great way for the body to maintain its normal temperature – when you sweat, you remove moisture from the body and as it evaporates off you skin, this cools you down.
The biggest danger from sweating can occur when it is hot outside, or when you are exercising and your body is heating up. In these instances, you can lose too much water from your body through sweat, resulting in dehydration, so getting adequate fluid (like water) into your body when you do sweat is critical.
Yet sweating occurs not just when you’re hot, but when you are nervous as well, and this tends to become a problem during puberty, a stressful time for any adolescent. When your teen’s three million sweat glands (that’s right, three million!) get more active (particularly in places like the armpits), the sweat that is produced mixes with bacteria, producing chemicals that give sweat its not-so-pleasant odor.
So what do you do about it? If your teen’s sweat smells bad, having them shower daily and use a deodorant with an antiperspirant is the best way to go (the deodorant masks the odor and the antiperspirant reduces the amount of sweat produced in the armpit area). Clothes should be made of natural fibers like cotton and linen – especially in the summer heat.
Use of underarm or dress shields can help prevent underarm stains and if necessary, a teen might keep an extra shirt in his or her locker at school. It’s also a good idea to talk openly with your teen about what may be stressing him or her so you can address those stressors and possibly reduce the amount of sweat being produced.
If despite these measures the sweating persists, then have your teen talk to their doctor because there are prescription-strength antiperspirants or other treatments that may be in order to help with the sweating
Hopefully tips like this will result in you and your teen finding that the problem of perspiration is no sweat at all.
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids