The dreaded pit stains. Not only do they make wearing button downs, tight t-shirts and anything gray pretty much impossible, but they're also just downright uncomfortable. But what actually causes you to "pit out," and why do you sweat more some days than others?
In order to understand what the deal is, first it's important to understand the science behind armpit sweat. "Our bodies are covered with sweat glands called Eccrin glands, and these respond to heat, exercise, and emotional stress," says Julane Becker, a principal researcher at Proctor & Gamble. "The sweat they secrete is 99 percent water and 1 percent proteins. However our armpits also have Apocrine sweat glands. These begin to function at puberty and respond to emotional stresses. The sweat they secrete is 80 percent water and 20 percent protein. These proteins can be food for odor causing bacteria and result in a smellier sweat." So basically, we have our Apocrine glands to blame for the gross, yellow rings in the armpits of all of our white tank tops. Thanks a lot, guys.
The way our Aporcrine glands respond to internal and external factors is what causes us to sweat more some days than others, which makes deciding when to wear your favorite long-sleeved white dress really stressful. To help you better understand your pit stains (and, ideally, to help you avoid them) here are five things that may cause you to sweat more than usual.
Clinical Strength Smooth Solid Deodorant, $7.99, Secret.com
You know how some people can leave spin class with hardly a drop of sweat on them, while others (aka me) drenched from head to toe? As it turns out, it's our parent's fault. "As with many things in life, our genetics and hormones play a large roll in how much we sweat," says Becker. "If your parents are heavy sweaters, you probably are too."
2. An Elevated Core Temperature
When your core temperature (aka the temperature of your organs like your heart and blood), rises above your basal body temperature, you start to sweat. According to Becker, this can be caused by many different factors, like exercise, illness or fever and eating spicy food to name a few. This may cause you to sweat from everywhere (as anyone who has ever eaten three-alarm chicken wings can attest to), but can make things really bad in the underarm area.
3. Where You Are In Your "Cycle"
Fresh Invisible Solid, $5.99, Secret.com
As if we needed another adorable symptom to attribute to our periods. "For women specifically, where we are in our cycle can affect how much we sweat," says Becker. "The two weeks before ovulation we have lower basal body temperatures and it is easier to rise above this causing more sweat."
4. Your Emotional State
The phrase "red with anger" actually may have some truth to it. "Our emotional state or being stressed out can also cause an increase in sweat," says Becker. "This is part of the flight or fight response." Her advice? Keep calm to help yourself stay cool.
5. Tight Clothes
As most of us can attest to, some clothes simply make us sweat more than others. Luckily, this is the one factor we can actually control. "We cannot change our genetics or our hormones, but wearing lightweight breathable clothes can help keep your total body temperature down and reduce sweat," says Becker. Now, do you think we can get our bosses to agree to "Tank Top Tuesdays?"