Here’s a great discussion where I offered up several recommendations on how to manage sweaty armpits.
I am the mom of a 22 year old young man with autism.
He has some sensory challenges, one of which is being extremely distracted by the feeling of wet armpits/undershirt.
He doesn’t like when a shirt shows sweat, but primarily it’s the sensation that troubles him.
We’ve tried “clinical strength” antiperspirants and stick on “shields” but he’s still absolutely miserable.
I’ve skimmed your site (which I love) but admit I’m a bit overwhelmed and confused by the whole magic wicking phenomenon and find myself wondering if it’s more marketing than science.
Do you have any wisdom to share so I can help my son?
Thank you so much for your time!
Be sure to check out my Top 9 Sweat Management Solutions article. It contains information about sweat blocking undershirts, sweat proof underwear, various antiperspirant & sweat-reducing options, and much more.
Sweaty Armpit Q & A With Kathy
Note: Kathy’s answers are inline with my questions below, within the quote boxes.
Good to hear from you and thanks so much for your question!
Let’s see if we can find a solution to help your son feel more comfortable (:
If the main issue is his sensitivity to the feeling of wetness in the underarm area, there are two possible solution-paths we can take:
- Find a product that will keep his underarms dry or drier
- Identify an undershirt that will not feel as wet in the underarm area
Before I spew a bunch of information at you, can you provide some basic background such as:
A. What clinical strength antiperspirants has he tried?
Certain-Dri (made him itch, we tried every other day, but didn’t seem to help), Dove Men Clinical Protection (20% Aluminum Zirconium GLY)
B. When does he put on the antiperspirant? In the morning or at another time?
We tried Certain Dri at night, others in morning
C. What brand of undershirts does he normally wear?
He’s historically been a Hanes man :-)
D. What is the fabric blend of the undershirts that he normally wears?
We recently switched from all cotton to 2 others kinds 1) 60% cotton, 40% Modal and 2) Hanes Xtemp which shows 100% cotton but is marketed as “cooling”
I can’t express how much I appreciate your willingness to help.
Andy struggles enough with the “social dance” without having to physically be uncomfortable all the time.
We live [in the Southeast] so hot, humid weather is our constant foe.
Thank you for your kindness and compassion.
You rock harder than the average undershirt guy!
A Note About “Wicking”
I would like to clear one thing up regarding the “wicking” mystery.
Wicking is nothing more than the transference of moisture.
The rate in which moisture (sweat) is transferred, then dries, depends on many factors like fabric blend, fabric weave, fabric weight, ambient conditions, airflow, & of course, the use-case/condition.
For example, if I’m wearing an outer cotton t-shirt that got wet on a day that is windy, with low humidity, and a moderate temperature around 70 degrees, the t-shirt would dry a lot faster than if I were wearing the same cotton t-shirt on a non-windy day with higher humidity, even at the same temperature.
Same t-shirt, different conditions.
In fact, even if I switched out that cotton t-shirt for something that is generally defined as “wicking”, there’s no guarantee that a wicking t-shirt would dry any faster.
Primarily, this is because it would also depend on if the cotton and wicking t-shirt shared the same weight, weave, etc.
If the cotton t-shirt is thin, but the wicking t-shirt is thicker, the wicking t-shirt may be slower to dry.
In short, there are so many conditions that dictate how fast a fabric will dry, it’s hard to make any general statements about it.
For more detailed information about the moisture wicking topic, check out my Moisture Wicking Undershirts article, where I go into a great amount of detail about the subject.
5 Ways To Manage Sweaty Armpits
Good to hear back from you and thanks for sharing those additional details!
Based on your responses, here are some of my recommendations:
Try a 7-day antiperspirant like Sweat Shield Ultra or SweatBlock (amazon).
They should be more effective than the antiperspirants you’ve tried.
Also, check out this article where I keep a list of hyperhidrosis antiperspirants.
If Sweat Shield Ultra or SweatBlock don’t work for him, maybe one of the other hyperhidrosis antiperspirants listed on the above page will.
Apply Antiperspirant at Night
Definitely apply the antiperspirant at night, so that it can take effect overnight.
If your son applies the antiperspirant in the morning (i.e. after his shower), then it’s likely that he will start perspiring before the antiperspirant has the chance to take effect.
Our bodies are most calm while while sleep, and so are our sweat glands — so applying the antiperspirant at night will give you the greatest chance of blocking sweat.
Check out this Apply Antiperspirant at Night article for more information.
Topical Robinul & Qbrexza
They are alternative forms of excessive sweating treatments, that work by instructing the sweat glands not to sweat, vs how antiperspirants work which is by blocking sweat glands
Other Sweat-Reducing Options
If the temporary sweat inhibiting solutions above don’t work, you could consider a procedure like Miradry, a process that actually destroys the underarm sweat glands.
There are other sweat-reducing procedures available as well, but I suspect they will be too invasive for your son.
Wicking, Fast Drying Undershirts
Since your son is super sensitive to the feeling of wetness, outside of trying to reduce his underarm sweat, the next best solution would be to wear a lightweight wicking undershirt that dries super fast.
Keep in mind that if the undershirt does a really good job of wicking, the sweat will transfer quickly from the inside to the outside of the undershirt, and as a result, your son’s outer shirt will likely show visible sweat stains.
My #1 recommended fast drying undershirt type are those that are made with a cellular mesh polyester fabric, like Uniqlo AIRism Mesh, Vdri, and TriDri.
You can find these and other undershirts that have a faster dry time in my quick drying travel undershirts article.
Outside of that, you may also be able to track down some cellular cotton undershirts, like the ones I wrote about in this Sunspel Cellular Cotton Undershirts article.
The Sunspel undershirts are a bit expensive, but you may be able to find some cheaper ones on Amazon.
Try searching for “cellular undershirt” or “mesh undershirt” (without the quotes on amazon).
I hope you find the above information helpful, and i would really appreciate it if you kept me posted on what you wind up trying from the above recommendations, and which one(s) worked best for your son.
A Very Thoughtful Update from Kathy
You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar…not to mention my hero!
I contacted you about my son with autism who is extremely distracted by the sensation of a wet shirt.
You were kind enough to heed my distress call and I wanted to update you on our progress.
We opted for trying the SweatBlock and Andy (my son) used it while we waited for our Uniqlo order to arrive.
Within a couple days, Andy had been liberated from his sensory nightmare!
He also tried the Uniqlo shirts but I think he’s a little tentative about them b/c they feel “different” from what he’s used to. He’s persevering though.
I truly can’t thank you enough for coming to his rescue.
Anything we can do to decrease his sensory struggles makes the language and social dance easier for him to do.
If you ever wonder if your efforts are for naught, they’re not. You have made a profound difference in the life of at least one young man in Missouri.
I thought I saw a link to donate to your “cause” but now I can’t find it. Am I hallucinating?
I would like to monetarily show our appreciation for your time and expertise.
The new president of your fan club,