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What effects can sweat have on the skin?

What effects can sweat have on the skin?
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Sweating, a common reaction to heat, physical exertion, stress and other stimuli, can cause skin to lose moisture and minerals. We discuss what effects this can have on the skin.

Perspiration exists to regulate body temperature when it is submitted to intense heat and physical stress[1], cooling it down and maintaining it to a normal average of ‎36.5-37.2°C[2]. However when sweating, it’s not only water leaving through your pores: there is also excess oil, dead skin and bacteria, which can clog pores[3]. In addition, heat can lead to the production of large amounts of sweat, which in turn can result in the excretion of water-soluble vitamins and minerals in sweat[4].

What effects can sweating have on the skin?


Minerals and nutrients are vital for a person to push their body’s performance levels during exercise without incurring physical damage. During exercise, hydration levels drop and important minerals and nutrients like sodium, potassium and calcium[5] are depleted through the process of sweating.

During exercise, hydration levels drop and important minerals and skin loses nutrients.

If they are not replaced, this can have negative effects on the body and result in damage during or after exercise[6]. In order to prevent this, it’s recommended that you follow a balanced diet and supplement your body after exercise in order to replace what has been lost. You can refuel hydration and vitamin levels by eating mineral-rich foods like fish, bananas, spinach, eggs and drinking milk and water[7].

When sweating, it’s not only water leaving through your pores: there is also excess oil, dead skin and bacteria, which can clog pores

Sweating can also have an effect on skin in the form of Malassezia folliculitis- a type of yeast, that is naturally found on skin and is commonly referred to as sweat acne[8]
For Malassezia folliculitis-prone individuals, this yeast gets into the hair follicles and multiples, commonly caused by the heat and humidity incurred from perspiration[9]

Studies suggest that in summer there is an increase in acne aggravation due to sweating and increased humidity[10]

These itchy, red pimples usually appear on the upper chest, upper back, neck, jawline and along the hairline, including the forehead[11].

If you suffer from Malassezia folliculitis, there are some preventative measures you can take to lessen its spread. These include hygiene habits that can be incorporated into your daily routine, like showering after you exercise, wearing clean clothes and removing makeup before bed.

[1] PubMed Health Glossary. [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022771/]
[2] Cunningham, L. et al ‘Vital Signs (Body Temperature, Pulse Rate, Respiration Rate, Blood Pressure)’ in Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center. [Accessible at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=85&ContentID=P00866]
[3] Tang, Y. et al, 'Relationships between micronutrient losses in sweat and blood pressure among heat-exposed steelworkers' in Industrial Health 54.3 (2016) pp. 215-223 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939859/]
[4] Tang, Y. et al, 'Relationships between micronutrient losses in sweat and blood pressure among heat-exposed steelworkers' in Industrial Health 54.3 (2016) pp. 215-223 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939859/]
[5] Tang, Y. et al, 'Relationships between micronutrient losses in sweat and blood pressure among heat-exposed steelworkers' in Industrial Health 54.3 (2016) pp. 215-223 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939859/]
[6] Montain, S.J. et al, 'Sweat mineral-element responses during 7h of exercise-heat stress.' in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 17.6 (2007) pp.574-82 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18156662]
[7]Slavin, J.L. et al, 'Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables' in Advances in Nutrition an International Review Journal 3.4 (2012) pp. 506-516 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/]
[8]Rubenstein, R.M. et al, 'Malassezia (Pityrosporum) Folliculitis' in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 7.3 (2014) pp. 37-41 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970831/]
[9] Pityrosporum Folliculitis in American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. [Accessible at: http://www.aocd.org/?page=PityrosporumFollicu]
[10] Sardana K. et al ‘’Seasonal variation in acne vulgaris--myth or reality’ in The Journal of Dermatology (2002) pp. 484-488. [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12227481]
[11] Pityrosporum Folliculitis in American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. [Accessible at: http://www.aocd.org/?page=PityrosporumFollicu]

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