Here are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about antiperspirants, deodorants and excessive underarm sweating or axillary hyperhidrosis.

What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is a medical condition by which a person sweats too much even without the normal triggers of heat, physical activity or emotional signals. Persons who sweat excessively may have overactive sweat glands that produce four to five times more sweat than the normal sweat discharge from our armpits, hand and feet.

How could you treat axillary hyperhidrosis or excessive underarm sweating?

Heavy underarm sweating can be embarrassing but can be treated through a number of effective ways. The easiest way to solve the problem of excessively sweating is with the use of an antiperspirant which can be used in a daily basis. Antiperspirants are formulated to form a plug that blocks the discharge of sweat from our skin. Antiperspirants can be bought over the counter at a local supermarket and drugstore. Antiperspirants can be applied not only on your armpits but also to other areas where you sweat profusely such as in your face, feet and hands.

Another way to treat excessive underarm sweating is through medical treatments such as iontophoresis by which you sit on a hollow tray of water to which low electrical current is made to travel.

Injections of botulinum toxin A or Botox is another treatment option while your doctor can prescribe anticholinergic drugs which stop the activation of the sweat glands.

How can aluminum in antiperspirants and deodorants affect our health?

Aluminum serves as an active ingredient in antiperspirants and deodorants but its direct link to breast cancer in women and other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease has not yet been established. The US Food and Drug Administration still do not have evidence or research data that proves ingredients such as aluminum in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants can cause cancer, particularly breast cancer nor has it established a connection between aluminum in antiperspirants and Alzheimer’s disease.

How does an antiperspirant work?

The application of an antiperspirant on your skin such as armpit allows the dissolving of its active ingredients on our skin to form a gel that serves a a plug on top of the sweat gland to block discharge of sweat or reduce amount of sweat released from this skin portion. Antiperspirants only reduce armpit sweating from the applied skin but has no function to control skin temperature.

What is the difference between an antiperspirant and a deodorant?

The words antiperspirant and deodorant are often been related but these two products are dissimilar. Antiperspirants control sweat and body odor by blocking the sweat glands while deodorants contain antimicrobial agents that prevent body odor.

What are the main ingredients of antiperspirants and deodorants?

The active ingredients of antiperspirants and deodorants are mainly dissolved in alcohol since it easily dries and gives a sense of coolness. An active ingredient of antiperspirants is aluminum salt which reduces flow of sweat to skin surface. An example of aluminum salt is aluminum chloride that is used in treating excessive sweating.

Why use antiperspirants or deodorants instead of soap?

Soap mixed with water is not effective in killing and removing bacteria especially those that have been developed in the underarm due to sweating. An antiperspirant or a deodorant is more effective in controlling body odor and sweating.

Do deodorants and antiperspirants contain perfumes and fragrances?

Almost all antiperspirant and deodorant products contain perfumes and fragrances to mask body odor and also provide freshness to the user. Emollient oils in these products are used to soothe and soften the skin particularly those in roll-ons and sticks. Emollient oils also provide a gliding feeling to the user.

Do deodorants and antiperspirants contain moisturizers and other essential ingredients?

Antiperspirants usually contain a moisturizer which is either glycerin or vegetable-derived oils such as sunflower oil. Another oil used to stop product drying out is also contained in antiperspirants to prevent generation of residues on the skin and clothes of user. A natural mineral such as silica is contained in antiperspirants and deodorants to absorb any oiliness and eliminate greasy feeling after application of the product.

Are there deodorants for both men and women?

Deodorants are usually classified for either for men or for women but a thorough investigation of the ingredients in deodorants for men and deodorants for woman suggest that the contents are just the same and are of the same amount. There would be a difference in fragrance for men and women but the main substances are still the same even in quantity. It would not be a hassle if a man prefers to wear the women’s deodorant or vice versa which, may be in some sense, save you a little money.