It may sometimes be difficult to appreciate but sweating is a useful mechanism. It’s the body’s way of cooling itself down and increasing heat loss so as to lower body temperature. Unfortunately, there isn’t time to explain all that when people on the bus start moving away from you.

And sweating isn’t something you only do when you’re hot. Some of the sweat glands which cover the human body (but which are gathered in greatest profusion under the arms and in the pubic area) can be triggered into action by fear or excitement.

The products available are probably better described as cosmetic than medicinal but since most of them are sold in chemists’ shops I’ll discuss them briefly in principle.

Antipcrspirants, whether sold as sprays, creams or roll-ons, often contain aluminium or zinc salts which plug up the pores and temporarily prevent sweat escaping. Antiperspirants may cause unpleasant allergic reactions and irritations.

Since sweat is largely water, it is obviously not the sweat itself which smells unpleasantly. The unpleasant odours are caused by bacteria breaking down the excreted body fluids. It is impossible to remove all the bacteria from the skin without destroying the skin itself, but deodorants aim at cutting down the bacterial population. Unfortunately, the antiseptics deodorants contain may produce rashes and may themselves be inactivated by soap.

The best way to avoid the anti-social effects of sweating is to bathe daily, change clothes frequently and wear loose-fitting clothing when it is really hot.

Sweat rashes are fairly common in warm weather. They most commonly trouble overweight people since accumulations of fatty folds cause extra sweating and produce skin folds which can easily retain sweat and stay damp. These rashes may be sore, itchy, red and infected. If they get this bad then they need treatment from a doctor.

To avoid a sweat rash it’s important to make sure that after bathing the skin is carefully dried. Dabbing dry is less damaging than rubbing. Sunbathing helps by drying and hardening the skin but there are obviously some areas of the body that it may not be possible to protect in this way. Ordinary baby powder can help provide some protection.