Prosthetic Categories

How to Deal with Excessive Sweating

    Sweating is natural; it's the body's way of regulating temperature. When our body's temperature is high, it sweats through our skin to cool down. However, when you wear a prosthesis, part of your skin or "radiator" is covered, which then disrupts this natural process and creates skin issues. A prosthesis prevents sweat from completely evaporating—a crucial step in cooling down. 

     Below-knee amputee sweating excessively while running on a trail.

    Preventing sweat from evaporating from the skin can create a whole host of issues for prosthetic users. Excessive sweating can make your suspension fail, allow extra motion within your prosthetic leg and cause friction related skin blisters and rashes. 

    Sweating can be your worst enemy. In this article, we will offer a few tips to help manage and prevent sweat-related problems.  

    Wear breathable fabrics  

    Wearing light and breathable fabrics that wick moisture and sweat away from your skin is one of the best solutions to reduce sweating. Aside from wearing lighter breathable clothing, consider wearing prosthetic socks that contain Coolmax or a wicking polyester. 

    If you can't stop sweating, you can at least try to minimize its issues. Prosthetic socks that contain X-Static or Coolmax, or use wicking polyester yarn construction can help mitigate sweating, especially on hot days. Wicking yarns will move your sweat to the outside of the sock and away from your skin. On sweltering days, you can change out of your sweat-soaked socks into fresh, dry ones while your residual limb stays dry. Make sure to carry a pack of Amputee Essentials Resilience Shower Wipes with you so you can easily clean your residual limb in-between sock changes.   

    If you wear a prosthetic liner, then you know how much sweat can accumulate underneath it. Knit-Rite makes a sock that goes under your liner that contains a wicking polyester, that moves sweat away from your skin, and X-Static, that destroys any odor-causing bacteria from sweating.

    Furthermore, breathable liners are becoming popular; the technology is simple, yet it can effectively solve the issue of excessive sweating. If you wear a prosthetic liner, consider researching breathable liners.

    Apply prosthetic antiperspirant at night  

    While deodorants mask the smell produced by bacteria when we sweat, the product does not prevent sweating. Strong antiperspirants are specially formulated to block sweat ducts so sweat can't reach the surface of the skin.  

    For some people, over-the-counter antiperspirants work. Others need a stronger antiperspirant that contains at least 12% of the active ingredient, aluminum chloride. The prosthetic antiperspirant that we offer at Amputee Store contains 12% aluminum chlorohydrate.

    For best results, ensure that your residual limb is clean and dry. Then apply the antiperspirant at night before bed. Nightly application is crucial because the ingredients need time to create the block over the sweat ducts, and most people sweat less, or not at all, the next day.

    Eat sweat-reducing foods  

    This seems like a crazy, off-the-wall tip but reducing sweat sometimes calls for eating less of certain foods that can trigger your sweat glands. Focus on eating foods that don't tax your digestive system and don't overstimulate your nervous system.

    You can consume more of the following foods and beverages: water, green tea, bananas, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruits with high water content (i.e., grapes, watermelon, broccoli, and spinach, among others), oats, olive oil, and high-calcium foods, like dairy products.

    On the flip side, some foods induce sweat. These foods encourage sweat production by requiring your digestive system to work overtime, which warms your body in the process. If you have a low-fiber, high-sodium, or high-fat diet, your body has to work harder to process the foods you consume.

    If you can, try to avoid the following foods and beverages that could trigger sweat: garlic, onions, processed foods, alcoholic drinks, and especially caffeine and spicy dishes.

    Skip the caffeine!

    This tip is not easy to follow if you need your morning cup of coffee or soda in the afternoon. Caffeine is a common culprit among those who sweat excessively. This is because caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing your heart rate and blood pressure to rise and kicking your sweat glands into high gear. 

    Also, if you like drinking hot coffee, you may notice that it raises your body temperature. If you must drink coffee, consider the iced variety instead.

    Stop smoking  

    Much like caffeine, nicotine in cigarettes raises your body temperature as well as your heart rate. This causes your sweat glands to work overtime. 

    Wait a few minutes after showering to get dressed   

    Sometimes the solution to excessive sweating is as simple as waiting a few minutes between showering and dressing. This is helpful when you live in a hot and humid place. Waiting a few minutes to get dressed allows your body to cool down and dry, especially when you use moisturizers after a bath. 

    Medical treatments  

    If the DIY solutions above don't work for you, consult your doctor to check if you have hyperhidrosis, a condition that affects an estimated 2% to 3% of Americans. If your doctor diagnoses you with this condition, ask him or her for possible treatment options.

    One is a strong antiperspirant, which can be prescribed by your doctor. If your face and head are affected by the condition, prescription creams are also available.

    Another option is oral medication. These medicines block the chemicals that allow specific nerves to communicate with each other, which can help reduce sweating. 

    If excessive sweating is caused by a mental health issue, like anxiety, your doctor can prescribe antidepressants.

    Botox is another option. It can temporarily block the nerves that cause sweating, and the effects last up to six to 12 months. A common side effect of Botox injections is that it can cause slight pain as well as temporary muscle weakness in the treated area. Again, discuss the risks and the benefits of every treatment option with your doctor. 

    Keep cool  

    Sweating is your body's defense against overheating. It's an entirely natural process, but excessive sweating can ruin your day. Do your best to keep cool, so your body reduces the need to sweat. 

    Stay hydrated always. Ensuring that you are not dehydrated is the best way to lower your body's temperature. 

    If you live in a place where the weather is hot and humid, you might want to keep your curtains and blinds drawn during the day to prevent the sun from heating your room. An economical option is to keep a bowl of ice in front of a fan. This allows cooler air to circulate.

    You can also try eating smaller meals throughout the day. Your metabolism is another source of heat.

    In addition, some readers shared that they keep their prosthetic socks and liners inside a cooler or ice pack so when they wear their socks and liners, cool fabric touches their skin, which helps lessen sweating. 

    How about you? How do you manage excessive sweating? Please share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section below. 

    An infographic on how to deal with excessive sweating.