Is sweating good or bad for your skin? Experts share benefits and side effects | Health - Hindustan Times
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Is sweating good or bad for your skin? Experts share benefits and side effects

By, New Delhi
May 30, 2024 02:28 PM IST

Sweating can cool down the body and has its set of benefits, but how does it affect our skin? We asked experts.

As much as it makes you uncomfortable, sweating is the body's natural cooling mechanism, that prevents you from heat stroke and other heat-based illnesses. While people may wish they sweat a little less, the process actually helps clear toxins, dirt, dead skin and bacteria from the body apart from keeping the skin cool. However, there are times when we sweat just way too much and this can deplete moisture from the body, increasing risk of dryness, irritation, fungal infections, and dermatitis among others. To prevent skin issues, it's important to wear loose-fitting clothes, shower regularly and stay hydrated. Maintaining hygiene, hydrating yourself well, and eating balanced diet will help you tackle any skin issue. (Also read | Don't sweat the sweating: Surprising health benefits of sweating in summer)

Is it useful or harmful? Let's understand the impact of sweating on our skin health and ways to manage it during extreme heat.(Freepik)
Is it useful or harmful? Let's understand the impact of sweating on our skin health and ways to manage it during extreme heat.(Freepik)

"When it comes to sweating people always have mixed opinions about it, some find it cool, whereas for some it's completely frustrating. The primary function of sweat is to cool down your body's temperature when things get steamy. However, it is important to understand that sweating is an essential function of the body. Sweating is the body's natural way of signaling, that your body is functioning well. Similarly, not sweating enough can be an alarming sign, indicating various health issues," says Dr Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics.

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Is it useful or harmful? Let's understand the impact of sweating on our skin health and ways to manage it during extreme heat.

Benefits of sweating

Dr DM Mahajan, Senior Consultant, Dermatology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals feels sweating can help reduce bacterial overgrowth and gives skin a brighter appearance.

  • Sweating helps dislodge excess dirt, oil, and debris accumulated within pores, flushing out those contaminants.
  • The antimicrobial properties of sweat, largely due to salt content, can help reduce the risk of bacterial overgrowth and infection on the skin's surface.
  • Sweating also improves blood circulation to the skin. This helps give the skin a healthier and brighter appearance. The moisture from sweat also helps remove dead skin cells from the surface.
  • For patients with acne, moderate sweating can be beneficial by helping clear excess oil, dead skin, and bacteria from clogged pores and hair follicles.

"Sweating can be highly beneficial for the body. It helps cool down your body's temperature, flushes out harmful toxins or impurities from your skin and immunity system, and keeps your skin hydrated and moisturized. Moreover, antimicrobial properties present in sweat act as a shield to fight against various infections," says Dr Rinky.

However, excessive sweating should be avoided as it can exacerbate inflammatory acne

Side effects of sweating

Dr Mahajan says excessive sweating can compromise the skin's protective barrier.

  • The mineral salts and lactic acid present in sweat can deplete levels of natural moisturizing factors like ceramides, fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid over time.
  • Excessive sweating also increases risk of dermatitis, irritation, dryness, and pruritus.
  • The salt within sweat can also cause stinging sensations in areas of open wounds when concentrated.

"Sweating too much or not at all can be equally worrisome. Too much sweat (also known as Hyperhidrosis) can cause fungal infections like athlete's foot, body odour, and clammy or sweaty palms," says Dr Rinky.

How to manage the sweat

"It is very important to follow proper hygiene practices to balance sweating's positive impacts while avoiding complications. It is recommended to take shower with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser that helps remove accumulated sweat, dirt, and bacteria from the skin's surface. Following up with a suitable moisturiser helps replenish the skin's protective barrier. Drinking adequate water and following a diet with skin-friendly nutrients also promotes better skin health and resilience," says Dr Mahajan.

Dr Rinky shares a guide on how to take care of the skin in summer and monsoon when you are sweating more:

• Stay hydrated: It is important to drink at least 1 litre of water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.

• Wear loose or breathable fabrics: Wearing loose and comfortable clothes, especially cotton fabric in extreme heat can help reduce skin irritation caused by sweating.

• Shower regularly: It is crucial to maintain proper hygiene to avoid any skin problems or allergies caused due to sweat. Taking a shower regularly can keep you fresh and odour-free all day.

• Apply moisturiser: Due to sweating, your skin loses all its natural moisture, making it dry. Using a light-weight moisturiser can regain its moisture resulting in soft and smooth skin.

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