Do You Sweat More Than Your Friends? Here’s Why—And What To Do About It

Have you been known to sweat even on a cold day? Do you pick out clothes at the store specifically because they “probably won’t show sweat stains”? Don’t be ashamed—I too have been known to stain some shirts.

And trust me, there really are certain fabrics that make it easier. Color, too. If you’re like me, black clothes are probably your best friend.

But why is it that some people seem to sweat more than others? According to Dr. Laure Rittié, a dermatology researcher at the University of Michigan, it all goes back to childhood.

“We think this is because of the following interesting fact. Everyone is born with virtually the same number of sweat glands, but sweat glands mature during the first two years of life,” Rittié told Science of Us. “Not all sweat glands become able to produce sweat (it depends on the need during that time). So people who grew up in warm climates tend to have more active sweat glands than people who grew up in a climate-controlled environment or in cold climates.”

children outside photo
Flickr | AwesomeSA

She says as adults, we keep our sweat glands, but only some of them are able to produce sweat. That percentage varies between people.

Rittié says she is not aware of any genetic factors contributing to sweatiness, so the environment in which you grew up is a pretty big factor contributing to how likely it is you’ll be battling those sweat stains as an adult.

Other factors not specifically related to childhood include anxiety, illness, medication and caffeine intake.

Sure, now you know why you’re so sweaty, but what can you do to stop it?

One way is to not overdo it with the air conditioning. (We know, it’s hard.) The body responds to internal temperatures, not external, so if you’re exposed to, say, 85 degrees often, your body will start responding to sweat at maybe 82 degrees.

“This is why 65 degrees in the spring usually feels warm while 65 degrees in the fall feels chilly. Why? The body is trained at the end of the summer but not in the spring,” Rittié says.

Going back to the internal temperature and not external, Rittie also says cold water is a better option to control sweating than an ice pack. This is, of course, because the ice pack only cools one part of your body, while water cools your whole body.

“Visualize cooling down the content of your stomach and thereby cooling down internal organs,” Rittié said.

drinking water photo
Flickr | aqua.mech

Other options to help control your sweat include high-strength deodorants, choosing lightweight clothing, dressing in layers year-round and skipping spicy foods.

A word of warning though: This advice is only barring a case of hyperhidrosis, a medical condition that causes excessive sweating. If your sweating is severely interfering with daily life, it’s best to see a doctor.