Can full-body deodorants help control excessive sweating in summer?

Other than underarm products, there are treatments specifically for the feet, back and groin areas, though medics say to look for non-irritating ingredients

In summer, some may need more than an underarm deodorant to tackle perspiration and odour. Photo: Evelyn Semenyuk / Unsplash
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As temperatures and humidity levels rise, so do the chances of excessively perspiring.

This can lead to some sticky situations. Some people suffer from a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, while others perspire from parts of the body not covered by traditional deodorants, such as the palms, back of the neck, back and inner thighs. Fortunately, full-body deodorants can help reduce sweating and the embarrassment of damp patches and odour.

In the UAE, beauty brands including Lume, Nuxe and Dove offer full-body deodorants, while Dandydill Way has an option suitable for children and adolescents. Here’s what you need to know and look out for.

What is a full-body deodorant?

“Body deodorants are usually used for areas such as the feet, groin and skin folds on certain parts of the body,” says Dalya Sager, a skin expert and senior medical aesthetician in Dubai. “Full-body deodorants work by eliminating odour by containing compounds with antibacterial properties and by absorbing the sweat as opposed to stopping sweating altogether, which hinders body temperature regulations.

“Such deodorants should contain skin-friendly, non-irritant ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, mandelic acid, tea tree oil, peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil. Compounds such as fragrances, parabens, phthalates, propylene and sodium lauryl sulfate, which may be found in normal deodorants, should be avoided.”

Full-body deodorants are available in sticks, creams and sprays and are designed to be used on areas of the skin where traditional underarm deodorants or antiperspirants are not recommended. The ingredients in full-body deodorants take into account differences in skin thickness and sensitivity.

“Search for products that contain sodium bicarbonate and corn starch as they aid in reducing moisture levels to inhibit the growth of bacteria,” says Dr Dilruba Begum Mujavar Shaik, specialist dermatologist, at RAK Hospital. “Antimicrobial components like benzyl peroxide wash can aid in reducing bacterial proliferation on the skin.”

Can you use underarm deodorant on your body?

Deodorants designed to be used under the arms are specifically formulated for the skin in the armpit area, which has more sweat glands and hair than most other parts of the body.

“These formulations may be too harsh or irritating for other areas, especially more sensitive skin like that on the face or private parts,” says Dr Ankita Tuknayat, a specialist dermatologist at Aster Clinic in Dubai. “Many underarm deodorants contain antiperspirants like aluminium compounds, which help reduce sweating. These compounds can clog pores. When used on larger skin areas, they might cause irritation or more severe skin reactions.”

Dr Shaik adds: “Different areas of the body require varying formulations in order to cater to the needs of full-body deodorants. Additional ingredients, such as more potent fragrances or moisture-absorbing components, might be included in these products to cater to areas that tend to perspire more than the underarms. Certain full-body deodorants may prioritise antimicrobial properties to address the growth of bacteria in regions with increased sweat accumulation.”

Antiperspirant versus deodorant

Deodorants are designed to mask body odour, while antiperspirants contain aluminium compounds that are used to reduce or stop the amount of sweat. Many products are a mix of antiperspirant and deodorant, with stronger antiperspirants available on prescription for those suffering from hyperhidrosis.

“Hyperhidrosis is mainly caused by faulty nerve signals that trigger sweat glands to become overactive,” says Sager. “There is no known medical cause for this type of hyperhidrosis, it is hereditary and due to genetic factors.”

Shaik notes: “Sweating plays a crucial role in maintaining body temperature. However, if all sweat glands are blocked, there is a risk of overheating as sweating helps cool down the body. It is important to focus on applying deodorant to areas that lack proper ventilation and are susceptible to odour due to limited air circulation. However, it is also necessary to allow some sweat in other areas to maintain the body's natural functions.”

Prolonged use of products that are high in aluminium compounds can cause skin irritation, discolouration or pigmentation.

“There’s been a concern in the past that if the skin absorbs these aluminium compounds, they can cause cancer,” says dermatologist and aesthetic physician Dr Akreti Sobti. “However, according to the American Cancer Society, there’s no clear link between cancer and aluminium.”

Can adolescents use full-body deodorants?

Puberty and adolescence bring about many changes in the teenage body, including an increase in perspiration as hormones cause sweat glands to become more active.

“As they approach puberty, children experience a surge in hormones. This often leads to a change in body odour, which can make them self-conscious,” says Tanya Rodney, founder of children’s eco-grooming brand Dandydill Way. “Sweat is odourless, but the bacteria on our skin feed on sweat and then excrete odour-causing chemicals.”

As well as deodorants for underarms and the body, dermatologists suggest showering twice a day while using antibacterial soaps and dressing in loose-fitting clothes made from moisture-wicking fabrics such as linen, organic cotton and merino wool.

Updated: May 21, 2024, 10:31 AM