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    Stress Sweat Can Really Stink Up Your Holiday

    by Carrie B. - January 2 , 2018


    Stress Sweat Can Really Stink Up Your Holiday

    For many, the holidays are a stressful time. From family squabbles to all of the cooking and shopping that can drain one's bank account to the pressure to try make each of the coming holidays extra special, it can cause some anxiety and stress more than any other time of year. In fact, 44% of Quebec's millennials say they feel stressed out as the holidays approach, according to a recent survey conducted by Leger Marketing.

    Specifically, the survey reported that Quebecers aged between 18 and 24 (49%) stress the most, followed by those aged between 25 and 34 (42%) as the holiday season approaches. The main causes of stress include going over budget (cited by 32%), finding a unique gift for friends and family (25%) lack of time (17%) and having an overwhelming list of things to do (13%).

    This type of stress can cause what's known as "stress sweat," which is worse than regular sweat you experience when working out. That's because stress sweat comes from the larger apocrine glands, which are located mainly in the armpits and grown, and produce a smellier sweat than regular sweat.

    "The majority of the sweat glands in our skin are eccrine sweat glands," explains Angela Ballard, a registered nurse and health educator with the International Hyperhidrosis Society. (Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating and affects about 3% of Canadians.)

    "These glands are responsible for most of our heat-related and exercise-related sweating and secrete an odorless, clear fluid (made mostly of water and salt) to help control temperature by promoting heat loss through evaporation. Eccrine glands are found in large numbers on the soles of the feet, the palms, the forehead, cheeks, and in the armpits," continues Ballard.

    Stress sweat, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. "Stress sweat comes primarily from another type of sweat gland called an apocrine gland. Apocrine glands are found mostly in the armpits and genital region (but there are some on the scalp, too) and exist near dense pockets of hair follicles. They produce a thick fluid that they empty into the hair follicle just before it opens onto the skin surface," adds Ballard.

    Apocrine sweat is actually initially odorless, but the problem is that it doesn’t evaporate as quickly as eccrine sweat. "It can develop an odor when it combines with bacteria that normally inhabits the surface of our the skin. The odor has that characteristic smell that we often call “body odor.” While it may smell, stress/apocrine sweat doesn’t actually produce that much wetness — at least not like the amount caused by eccrine sweat," she continues.

    Here are some tips on how to control stress sweat:

    Meditate First

    It's impossible to totally avoid the holidays or the relatives that stress you out the most. But, if you feel a stressful situation coming on, excuse yourself to the restroom and meditate for five minutes. A recent study published this year in Psychiatry Research showed that meditating before a stressful event made those in the study feel better going into the anxiety-inducing situation.

    "The difference could be measured in their blood. The meditators saw their ACTH [adrenocorticotropic hormone] dropped, as did pro-inflammatory cytokines — both markers of stress — suggesting the meditation had indeed made them more resilient," wrote Lisa Johnson in a CBC News article this year about the study.

    If walking away isn't an option, then take a deep breathe in to center yourself. Breathing in slowly through your nose and out your mouth will decrease your heart rate when that relative is making your blood boil.

    Dress For Stress

    Wear breath-able clothing, such as Ministry of Supply's dress shirt that blends NASA-engineered material into a stretchy knit to regulate your body temperature. Or, layer your clothing so if you sweat through one layer, you can remove it (in the privacy of the restroom, of course) and wear a clean layer.

    Groom Sweaty Areas

    Trim and groom your hair where apocrine sweat and odor is a problem. While it won't stop you from sweating, it will make your deodorant or antiperspirant stick to your skin better. Trimming hair also prevents sweat and oil from hanging around too long, which cuts down on the surface areas on which bacteria and sweat can react. The combo of bacteria and sweat is what leads to the awful body odor.

    Step Up Your Antiperspirant Game

    If your deodorant or antiperspirant isn't cutting it, try a stronger formula, such as Certain Dri, which is recommended by doctors to patients suffering from hyperhidrosis.

    Normally, deodorant is applied after showering or before heading out for the day. But, Ballard recommends applying it at night for best effectiveness. "At bedtime you're typically sweating the least, which gives antiperspirants' active ingredients time overnight to form the superficial plugs (that help limit sweating) before you start sweating again in the morning," says Ballard.

    And, yes, you can use antiperspirants on other body areas besides your underarms. "Just test it on a small spot first to make sure it doesn't cause irritation–especially on sensitive parts. As always, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about any concerns," adds Ballard.

    Try Stresstabs

    For more than 30 years, Stresstabs have been the America's top brand of supplements to help manage stress. Certified by the American Institute of Stress, they are full of vitamins and come in many formulas – with iron, zinc and copper, and Z-bec.

    One of the key ingredients is sensoril, which is an ashwagandha extract. Sensoril, combined B vitamins in the tablets, helps to increase the body's resistance to physical, emotional and mental stressors and promotes balance in the body after stress occurs, which is important to keeping the whole body healthy.

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    is an award-winning journalist and author of three books. She writes about sex/relationships for Men's Health, DAME, and Canadian Pharmacy World.


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