Anti-perspirants versus deodorants – what’s the difference?

Anti-perspirants versus deodorants – what’s the difference?

With the recent hot weather, you might have noticed that you sweat a little more than usual. You might have increased the use of your deodorant or anti-perspirant. But did you know that there is a difference between deodorants and anti-perspirants? So what is that difference?

Deodorants usually contain antibacterial ingredients such as alcohol to reduce body odor inducing bacteria (plus masking fragrances to ‘cover’ unpleasant smells). You see, fresh, sterile sweat is actually not smelly; it only develops an unpleasant odor, once bacteria start fermenting it.

Antiperspirants on the other hand contain aluminium compounds, which temporarly reduce sweat production in the skin’s sweat glands. Antiperspirants come in different shapes including roll-ons, sprays and powders.

Some people worry that suppressing sweating in one area, might lead to compensatory over-sweating in other areas. But there is no need to worry that you will sweat visibly more in other areas. That’s because our entire body constantly evaporates water via the skin, most of which is completely invisible (called ‘perspiratio insensibilis’ in medical Latin). In fact, our body looses about 900ml of water this way every single day. So it has the ability to successfully regulate its water homeostasis in other ways than visible sweat pearls on your skin.

Its fine to use antiperspirants every day, if you need it and you tolerate it fine. Some people may however react with skin irritation (also depending on the strength of the anti-perspirant), in which case the frequency might have to be reduced. I suggest to ‘work your way up’. Start with a milder, lower concentrated anti-perspirant (eg 6% aluminum chloride hexahydrate) over the counter product to see how your skin tolerates it and whether its effective enough for you. If it’s not strong enough and you are still sweating, move up to a higher concentrated version of for example 20%.

And if that’s still not enough, then ‘Botox’ injections under the arms might be your solution. This painless treatment (done after application of anaesthetic cream) will solve your under-arm sweating for around 9 months! A treatment many patients describe as a “miracle” treatment.

Get in touch

Whether you have a medical skin condition which needs treatment or simply want to look your very best, our specialised dermatology team will help you achieve the very best result.