We all accept that sweat is a normal side effect of working out, but is sweating good for your skin? A sweaty shirt in some workout circles is such a badge of honor that some companies (like ViewSPORT) have made special clothes that change colors or have hidden messages that are activated by sweat. Sweat is important. It keeps you cool and allows you to operate in extreme environments. But what about after you cool down and your heart rate gets back to normal? Is sweating too much bad for us or our skin? Is it OK to sit around drenched in sweat all day?
Given today's extreme workout culture, this topic has received surprisingly little attention. Since humans have been toiling and sweating for thousands of generations, it's hard to imagine sweat being harmful. Sweat itself is mostly water mixed with salts, lactic acid, peptides and urea.
Another problem with sitting around in your sweat arises from the combination of sweat and your clothes. Sitting around in sweaty clothes creates a warm damp environment, a perfect incubator for accelerating bacterial growth (which is already there in the form of your microbiome) that is normally held in balance by a number self-regulating factors on your skin. Keeping your sweaty clothes on basically creates an ideal environment for some medical conditions. Those two conditions are often caused by the same fungus according to MedlinePlus.
So, is sweating good for your skin? It's not sweat itself that is the concern. Sweating often and every day as a result of exercise is likely connected to better health simply because it means you're exercising daily. It's a natural process and sweating keeps certain structures in your pores clean as the fluid moves through them. Be careful about over cleansing with harsh soaps several times a day, if you're doing two-a-days or sweat frequently throughout the day. A quick rinse with water should be good enough after most of your sessions.
The first item on your post-gym sesh to-dos should probably be to shed your sweaty clothes. Even if you don't have an opportunity to hit the showers for a couple hours, changing into dry clothes will at least reduce the moisture in the environment, which is a major contributor to fungal infections.
If you are sweating throughout the day, make the time to change clothes and towel off. You can also keep some face wipes in your bag to act as a mini shower.
This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Speed Stick® products. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.