Everyone sweats to some degree. In fact, sweating is a natural process that assists in regulating a person's body temperature. If you sweat excessively, though, you may have a condition known as hyperhidrosis.
If you struggle with hyperhidrosis, there is no doubt you've tried everything to reduce your sweating and its associated odor. You may have even tried baby powder to help with sweat. But does baby powder really help?
Here's a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of using baby powder to control sweating.
Benefits and Dangers of Talcum Powder
Traditionally, baby powder is made from talc - a very fine grade version of the mineral talc that contains primarily magnesium, oxygen, silicon and asbestos. Talc works as an astringent, which can constrict body tissues and leave a dry surface. This, in turn, can help minimize sweating, at least on a short-term basis.
Unfortunately, the grains of talc used to produce baby powder are so small that the body readily ingests and absorbs them. The problem is that asbestos, one of the primary ingredients of talc, has been linked to breathing problems and cancer when inhaled. Scientists are still performing studies to determine the exact relationship between talc and cancer, but the potential link has not gone unnoticed. In fact, a recent lawsuit resulted in the company Johnson and Johnson needing to pay the victim $417 million because she developed ovarian cancer after years of baby powder use.
Cornstarch Powder Alternative
The revelations about the dangers of talcum powder have led many people to turn away from it and toward powder made with cornstarch. This type of powder is highly effective at absorbing both moisture and odor. Baby powder with cornstarch is also good for minimizing friction from skin-on-skin contact, such as on the upper thighs or under the arms.
The downside is that cornstarch powder can be extremely messy. Excessive sweating can make the powder clumpy and less effective. The powder can also leave white streaks on your clothing that can be difficult to get rid of later. In addition, the powder is not as effective as antiperspirants.
Effectiveness of Antiperspirants
Antiperspirants work very well to help minimize the effects of excess sweating. Many contain specialized ingredients, such as aluminum chloride, which is known to help reduce the effects of excess sweating. Although antiperspirants are designed for underarm use, they can be used on other areas of the body as well. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to use antiperspirants in other areas sparingly until you know how it affects your skin. You also should choose antiperspirants, such as Duradry, that are FDA-approved, dermatologist recommended and alcohol-free.