Living with Hyperhidrosis: Sweat-Proofing Your Wardrobe
By Sam Nardi / May 22, 20
Excessive sweating can have a major impact on daily life, having a negative impact on everything from career prospects, to social life, and mental and emotional health. While it is not necessarily not the first thing that comes to mind, hyperhidrosis can have a major impact on wardrobe and fashion choices. Sweat stains, as well as stains left behind by antiperspirants and deodorants, can be unsightly, ruin an outfit, and negatively affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
When questioned about the effects of hyperhidrosis on quality of life, nearly three-quarters of people reported an impact on lifestyle, with the majority (61%) mentioning that sweating influenced their choice of clothing, particularly, material, colour and design of clothes.
These effects can lead to a negative impact on overall quality of life and general wellbeing, and should not to be ignored nor underestimated. Hyperhidrosis can be a financial burden, and lead to negative thoughts and a negative self-image. A great deal of importance is placed on the way people physically present themselves, and as sweating is highly stigmatized, it leads people to being judged and criticized over something they have no control over. There is a lack of awareness that excessive sweating is a medical condition, which can lead to judgemental reactions and embarrassing situations. Hyperhidrosis is also linked to higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Hyperhidrosis sufferers often avoid certain clothing items, fabrics, and colours, while practicing little “rituals” such as keeping tissues on hand, using them to absorb underarm sweat, and always having a fan or towel with them. While this is a part of life for many, it can complicate daily life, and in many cases there are better alternatives.
Keeping your sweat under control does not have to impact your style. If you’re struggling to deal with the effects of excessive sweating, or if you’ve ever used the hand dryer in a public restroom in an attempt to dry out a sweat stain on your clothing, read on to read our tips to sweat-proofing your wardrobe. These are tips gathered from the real-life experience of hyperhidrosis sufferers.
Select Moisture-Wicking Fabrics
We’ve all come across the term “moisture-wicking” as it relates to clothing. Generally speaking this term is used to market gym clothing, such as t-shirts, leggings, undergarments, activewear, and socks. They are designed to help wick away sweat and moisture from the skin, and are marketed to athletes and gym-goers, to be used in situations where there is an increase in sweat production, but has the indirect effect of helping those who sweat more than average, no physical exertion required.
For plantar hyperhidrosis sufferers, the most appealing of these garments is moisture-wicking socks. You will find the term moisture-wicking on most socks, which is why we put 10 of the most popular types to the ultimate sweat test.
Regardless of where you sweat from (underarms, groin, back, feet, etc.) you can find moisture-wicking clothing.
There are also moisture-wicking garments for those who would like to maintain their style and only have their undergarments be moisture-wicking. This keeps sweat away from the skin (prevents irritation) and doesn't impact your final look.
Yellow stains on clothing are not caused by sweat, but rather the chemical reaction that occurs between sweat and aluminum-based antiperspirants. If antiperspirant is a must, and for most it is, you can opt to stay away from white, or protect your clothing by putting on a clothing shield. There are some built into special sweat-proof undergarments, and some that are sold separately and meant to be stuck by the user directly on their shirts. These are generally sized and meant for the underarms, but you can get creative!
Not only will this prevent yellow stains on your shirt but will also prevent unsightly underarm sweat stains, which can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. These are a temporary solution and are more likely to be effective for those with mild hyperhidrosis. They are a good added security measure that can be invaluable especially during presentations or interviews.
The cost of sweating is not to be underestimated. Constantly purchasing antiperspirants, only to have them stain your shirts, and then having to re-purchase your shirts is just an added struggle to an already burdensome condition. It’s truly a never-ending loop, and as antiperspirants are generally not strong enough for hyperhidrosis sufferers, you are generally both still sweating and ruining your shirts.
Antiperspirants are often the first go-to for underarm sweating, and while they are effective for those who sweat a little, they won’t do much for someone who sweats a lot. If underarm sweating is affecting your daily life, then it could be time to swap sweat treatment. Consider iontophoresis as a drug-free treatment option that can replace your antiperspirants and give you up to 6 weeks of dryness at a time.
Layering is a quick fix and easy go-to for someone wanting to conceal their sweating, especially before an important meeting or event. As your base layer, we suggest sweat proof undergarments. Depending on where you sweat excessively from, this could be an undershirt, underwear, socks, or any combination of the three. Not only will this help reduce the appearance of sweat and minimize the possibility of sweat stains, but it will help you feel more comfortable throughout the day.
You can easily layer with loose-fitting garments, and top it off with a loose cardigan, vest, or jacket to make your sweat unnoticeable to others. This provides an additional layer of comfort and no one will question you! Of course, you don’t want to overdo it with layering, as then you may just be too warm, which could trigger your excessive sweating, but experiment with different looks and pieces to see what suits you best.
Find & Adapt the Right Footwear
Those with excessively sweaty feet will be the first to tell you that there are certain types of footwear that are a big no-no. There are an array of shoes that may not be so appealing to those who suffer from plantar hyperhidrosis, but there are some shoes that can work to your advantage. We recommend (when possible) to avoid shoes that do not allow your feet to breathe, such as very thick winter boots. We also advise against shoes made of plastic, as these can cause you to slip around and cause discomfort.
Rather, opt for shoes with many straps that will help you feel secure and comfortable, and not make you feel like you’re slipping around all day. When you need to wear boots because of outdoor conditions, be sure to wear thick socks made of moisture-wicking material (such as merino wool) which will provide more comfort and allow the sweat to reach the surface and evaporate, rather than feeling like you’re walking around in puddles all day.
We also recommend shoes that are designed for athletes and gym-goers, especially running shoes. Many of these are designed with the notion that you’ll get sweaty while wearing these so they’re equipped with breathable fabric and other features to keep your feet dry and comfortable all day.
You don’t necessarily have to be limited in your selection of footwear, as in addition to moisture-wicking socks, there are sweat-absorbing insoles that can help keep sweat and foot odour at bay. Look for those with antimicrobial and breathable properties. This will allow you to regain some selection among your choice of footwear.
Many hyperhidrosis sufferers go the extra distance and buy multiple pairs of the same pair of shoes, so that they can change pairs midway throughout the day (or whenever they get too sweaty), without having anyone else notice. This can be an expensive habit, but could be practical in formal or office settings. It’s always good to not only have a change of clothes at work/school, but also a change of socks and footwear, not just for hyperhidrosis sufferers, but everyone!
Keep a Change of Clothes
If you know you’re going to get particularly sweaty before your day begins, like if you need to take public transit to get to work, you may want to think of keeping a change of clothes on you. This is one of the most common “tricks” employed by those who sweat excessively. If you know you’ll be drenched before you get to the office, then just wear something you don’t mind sweating in (workout clothing, joggers, leggings, etc.), and then change into your “good clothes” before your workday starts by heading to the bathroom a few minutes before your day starts. This will help you feel better and stay fresh longer.
Pick the Right Fabrics
Fabrics can generally be split into two main categories: natural and synthetic, with both having different properties and attributes. From a sweaty person’s perspective, your best bet is to look for natural materials and fibres such as cotton, linen, bamboo, and wool (particularly merino wool), as these fabrics absorb moisture. This is useful in keeping sweat away from pooling and remaining on your skin, however the downside is that their absorbent nature means that they are more likely to absorb and retain the sweat, which can lead to visible sweat marks.
Synthetic fibres such as polyester are water resistant, which means the sweat will not be absorbed very easily (therefore, less visible sweat stains) but the moisture will remain trapped under the fabric, and cause discomfort, chafing, and even skin irritation and infection.
Garment labels always have the composition listed, so keep an eye out for natural fibres, and if you’re not sure (polyester for example has many names and types), research it before you buy!
Choose Colours, Patterns, and Cuts to Your Advantage
Dark, patterned, and loose clothing are the best at concealing sweat and keeping air circulation flowing. Sweat will show more with tight-fitting clothing, and tight-fitting fabrics that cling to the skin can also aggravate excessive sweating and lead to irritation. Loose, flowy clothes can help with air circulation, can conceal sweat stains and make you feel more comfortable throughout the day.
Dark clothing is also better at hiding sweat stains, so pick blacks, and darker shades of your favourite colours, instead of light greys and pastels.
Patterns are also a sweaty person’s best friend, as these can camouflage any sweat stains, and also be a fun way to add colour and fun to your wardrobe!
Get Rid of Stains
If you’ve already got stains on some beloved pieces from your wardrobe, not all is lost, as these stains can generally be removed. Before attempting to remove stains, it’s best to check for any care labels on clothing. If you’re worried about doing it yourself, bring it to a specialist cleaner. If you’re willing to DIY it, there are many “recipes” that can be concocted using some household staples you may already have lying around, including baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.
Get Your Sweating Under Control
If you’re tired of sweat stains, and having to consciously plan your wardrobe around sweating, then it’s time to find a treatment option that works for you. By reducing your sweat level and getting it under control, you’ll regain some freedom in your wardrobe, and beyond. Iontophoresis is a drug-free way of treating hyperhidrosis. Using water and electricity, it can get your excessive sweating under control and replace antiperspirants for good, thus saving your wardrobe from also getting ruined by sweat and antiperspirant stains and white marks. To learn more about iontophoresis treatment click here, and check out our iontophoresis machine range to treat excessive sweating of the hands, feet, and underarms below.
What’s your favourite tip? Did we miss one? Let us know by commenting or talking with us on our social media channels @dermadry!
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