Body hair varies greatly between people, and between genders as well. Some men can grow fantastic beards, and some women appear to have almost no hair on their body. Hair does play a vital role in our bodily functions, but some hair is fine to do without.
So, does body hair make you sweat? The problem is that there is no definitive answer to this. Many believe that without body hair, your sweat is less pronounced. However, it has been found that hair does help regulate sweat-cooling, something that needs to be considered before shaving or waxing it all off!
How Hair And Sweat Are Connected
Hairs themselves are not responsible for causing sweat, instead, it is the hair follicles that sit deep within that are connected to sweat glands. These sweat glands remain after hair removal, meaning that you will more than likely still sweat after waxing, shaving, or tweezing.
These sweat glands which are connected to the hair follicles are called apocrine glands, these are mainly found in the armpits, chest, and pubis. These glands produce a more oily sweat and contribute to the sweaty smell. Removing your hair, you will notice that your sweat will not smell as bad as before.
This is due to hair creating a large surface area for odor-causing bacteria to breed on. So removing all your hair might not stop you sweating, but it will help reduce body odor.
There are also other sweat glands in the skin that sit between the hair follicles. These are called eccrine glands. The sweat produced by these glands is mostly made of water and salt, and are responsible for cooling the body down. These glands are found right under the skin and are located all over the body.
Sweat glands function independently of hair, and you will sweat just as much before and after hair removal, the only difference being the odor that your body gives off will be reduced once the hair is removed.
Should You Shave Your Hair?
You might be looking for a solution to stop sweating as much, and it can be difficult to avoid sweating altogether, but shaving or waxing your hair off will not help that much.
Yes, removing your hair will help control body odor, but there are some downsides as well. Body hair is there for a reason, and here are some more reasons why you should consider leaving it as is:
- Shaving and waxing could result in irritated or infected skin if wounds are not treated properly.
- Pubic hair acts as a protective shield, and removing them, especially causing a few nicks in the process, leaves you open to infections such as staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus, and MRSA.
- One of the major functions of body hair is to release pheromones. While there is still some debate about the actual function of pheromones, many believe that they help attract a potential mate.
- Body hair reduces chafing. Those who do a lot of physical activity will undoubtedly deal with body sweat. This sweat and friction from repeated movement can lead to rashes and chafing. Keeping the body hair in the area acts as a barrier, locking in moisture and preventing chafing.
- Your body hair helps to regulate your body temperature. Your hair either traps heat in or releases heat to keep you cool depending on how it is standing on your skin and what your body needs.
Sweating Isn’t All Bad
Sweating can seem really gross to a lot of people, and it may cause some embarrassment in the warmer months, but sweating is really good for you and plays an important role in bodily functions. There are many benefits to normal sweating.
Everyday sweating – Our body’s sweat to regulate temperature. This helps to prevent you from having a heat stroke. Your internal organs need to run at normal body temperature to function properly, so having body hair is really important to make sure this happens.
Sweating while exercising – Your body heats up and your heart rate increases when you exercise, causing you to sweat. As the sweat evaporates from your body, your temperature cools down. Sweating during exercise prevents you from overheating during your workout and keeps you feeling cool.
Sweating when sick – When you are sick, it is fairly common to sweat, especially with a fever. This sweat helps to once again regulate your body temperature, which can help fight a fever off or prevent it altogether. You should still take your prescribed medicine, but trust that the sweat is helping you heal faster. Sweating while sick also helps remove the bacteria or germs that cause the sickness in the first place, while keeping your fevers as low as possible.
Skin benefits – Sweating does not actually cause damage to your skin, in fact, it does the opposite. While sweating, your pores open up and the sweat pushes up impurities and dirt sitting underneath your skin, the stuff that causes pimples and breakouts. This means that sweating is a natural way of cleansing your pores. Sweating also helps prevent irritated skin and rashes, which are again caused by a build-up of impurities in the pores.
Hair benefits – When your scalp sweats, your hair follicles are unclogged, which allows for new hair growth. The opening of the pores and the pushing up of the sweat also removes impurities and build-up from the scalp, preventing rashes or clogged pores. However, sweat is not so great for your hair, containing lactic acid that can damage the hair when in contact with the keratin found in the hair, so remember to wash your hair after exercise.
If you are concerned and feel that you might have excessive sweating, you might be suffering from hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that results in excessive sweating, usually occurring in situations that should not cause sweating, such as cooler weather. Other medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or menopause may also cause excessive sweating.
Many people do not seek out help or don’t actually know that they suffer from hyperhidrosis, as they do not know that it is a condition that can be treated with options that can provide some relief from excessive sweating.
Hyperhidrosis mainly occurs in the face, hands, feet, underarm and heads. The symptoms can include excessive sweating for over 6 months with no apparent cause, even sweat on both sides of the body, excessive sweating at least once a week, sweating which interferes with daily activities, and also sweating in your sleep.
Luckily, your doctor will be able to offer several treatment options to deal with excessive sweating, such as specialized antiperspirant, iontophoresis (a device that delivers low-level electric currents to temporarily block sweat glands), anticholinergic drugs which can provide relief for generalized sweating, botox which blocks nerves which stimulate sweat glands, and surgery which removes sweat glands in the armpits.
Your first step is to identify if you have the symptoms of hyperhidrosis, and then book a visit to your doctor to see how they might help you deal with it going forward!
Does body hair protect against sun damage?
Not necessarily. In fact, small droplets of sweat and water can become stuck to body hair, and then act as a magnifying glass under the sunlight. This intensifies the rays from the sun and can cause the skin to burn more than normal.
Thick body hair also makes it pretty difficult to apply a layer of sunscreen evenly over the skin. Shaving your body hair might help you protect your skin against sun damage, as you will be able to effectively apply sun protection all over, evenly.
Why do athletes shave?
Watching the Olympics, you will notice that most of the athletes in certain disciplines are hair-free. This is because having no body hair might play an advantage. In swimming, hair-free competitors are nearly 0.06-0.07 percent quicker than swimmers who do have body hair.
Is it okay to shave your arms?
If you are very self-conscious about the hair on your arms, you might be tempted to shave it off. While arm hair is not as prevalent in the world of shaving as armpit or leg hair, many people do choose to shave it off. Just remember that if you choose to shave your arm hair, you will have to shave it off quite often, and you will need to deal with short, prickly hair between shaving.
Body Hair And Sweating
So while shaving off your body hair might not reduce how much you sweat, it might help with your body odor. Many people are more embarrassed about the body odor caused by sweat than the actual sweat itself, so it might be worthwhile seeing if shaving helps with that, and decide from there if it is worth it or not.
Remember that body hair and sweat both serve important functions in your body, so try and accommodate them as much as you can!