We've gotten some variation of this question from several readers: Why do some people sweat more than others? Why do some people sweat from their faces, while others mostly sweat from their hands? When is sweating considered excessive and why am I sweating anyway?
So we spoke with Dr. Lyall Gorenstein, surgical director at the Columbia University Hyperhidrosis Center in New York and Dr. Noel Perin, director of minimally invasive spinal surgery, Department of Neurosurgery at NYU Langone Medical Center and an expert in treating complex hyperhidrosis.
Let's start with the basics: the primary purpose of sweating is to cool your body down. "Sweating is the body’s natural, neurological response to cool the body by stimulating the sweat glands to produce moisture that cools the body by drawing heat from the body during evaporation," Perin tells HuffPost Healthy Living. "Because everyone’s body is different, the response differs from one individual to another, producing varying levels of perspiration."
When your body temperature rises, whether because of sweltering external temperatures, exercise or hormonal changes (often associated with menopause), it stimulates the two to five million sweat glands that are distributed under your skin. These glands exist throughout the body, though they have higher concentrations in certain areas like the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
Perspiration works because it carries the heat generated by your body to the skin's surface, where it evaporates into the atmosphere, lowering overall internal temperature. Think of a bead of sweat as a vehicle for heat conducted by your body: it transports body heat to the surface, where it can diffuse into the external world. And that protects the integrity of your cells and organs from the dangers of overheating.
A secondary, less pronounced purpose to sweating is to help shed the body of waste that occurs as a natural byproduct of cell metabolism, according to Gorenstein.
But why do some people sweat more than others? Among the range of sweating that is considered normal—that is, functional, predictable and not associated with a medical condition—there is no known reason for the variation in sweating. "If we're talking about otherwise healthy individuals, which is to say not people who are obese or have another condition that could contribute, it's simply a physiological variation," Gorenstein tells HuffPost Healthy Living. "Just like how the average resting body temperature is 98.6, but many people exist on a bell curve around that."