Are sweat and body odor causing you distress? We all have the same number of sweat glands, and the sweat we produce is meant to cool us down when we're overheating (or overanxious), but sometimes the body isn't a perfect machine. Sweat, a sodium-rich fluid that cools us down as it evaporates on our skin, is produced by sweat glands called eccrine glands that are located in our skin. We also produce sweat through another type of gland, the apocrine gland. This type of sweat gland is located in our hair follicles, primarily found on our scalp, armpits and groin. Apocrine glands secrete a thicker type of sweat that produces body odor when it encounters the bacteria that normally lives on our skin. Sweating is normal; in fact, it's necessary. But if sweating interferes with daily activities, it's a condition known as hyperhidrosis. Severe sweating in the armpits is known as axillary hyperhidrosis.
A few treatment options exist for axillary hyperhidrosis sufferers, including prescription strength antiperspirants that plug sweat ducts, prescription oral medications that may help reduce sweat production, injections of botulinum toxin type A (Botox) and surgery to remove sweat glands or reduce signals from the sympathetic nerve. But what are the options if you're looking for a noninvasive, nonmedical treatment that can help mask your condition? Look into underarm sweat pads.
These pads are known by a variety of names -- underarm shields, garment guards and dress shields -- and they're designed to protect clothing from armpit sweat, reducing wet marks and staining on clothing. While the pads don't treat excessive sweating, they do help with managing excessive sweat on a daily basis, especially for those with mild symptoms or patients who have just begun another hyperhidrosis treatment option and are waiting for results.
Underarm sweat pads are typically made of 100 percent cotton, an absorbent and breathable material, and come in both disposable and reusable, washable types. Some brands also include a sweat-repelling vinyl layer along with the absorbent cotton to provide extra protection for your clothes. Most types of pads stay in place with a self-adhesive backing -- just peel off the paper backing and stick the pad inside your shirt's armhole. Some sweat pads have elastic arm straps that attach to your body rather than to your clothing. Pads come in a few colors -- nude, black and white -- and you can purchase them online or in the health and beauty section of retail stores. Used daily, they can help hide embarrassing sweat stains on clothing.
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Hyperhidrosis." August 2009. (Sept. 3, 2010) http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/hormone/938.html
- Baker, Donald J. and Warren R. Heymann. "Eccrine and Apocrine Glands." American Academy of Dermatology. 2010. (Sept. 3, 2010) http://www.aad.org/education/students/glands.htm
- Clark, Christine. "Sweating and hyperhidrosis." The Pharmaceutical Journal. June 24, 2006. (Sept. 3, 2010) http://www.pharmj.com/pdf/cpd/pj_20060624_sweating.pdf
- Dr. Franklin's. "Stop Sweat and Hyperhidrosis." 2010. (Sept. 3, 2010) http://www.drfranklins.com/
- Kleinert's. 2009. (Sept. 3, 2010) http://www.kleinertsshields.com/index.php
- Mayo Clinic. "Hyperhidrosis." 2010. (Sept. 3, 2010) http://www.mayoclinic.org/hyperhidrosis/