Ew! Beauty: Swamp Ass

There has to be a better name for this, right?

Let’s face it: Along with summer’s heat, humidity, and other sweat-inducing qualities comes a ton of gross beauty problems. From dry, cracked feet to ingrown hairs and chafing, there’s a lot that can hold you back from living the confident poolside life you’re destined to lead. But don’t worry—we’re talking to experts about how to fix them. Welcome to Ew! Beauty.

Sweating is normal. It's also, despite how unwanted its repercussions, very necessary to our bodies' well-being. If we didn't sweat, we would be literal hot messes. Sometimes, however, the sweat becomes too much. Scientifically, this is known as hyperhidrosis, and Marisa Garshick, MD, a medical and cosmetic dermatologist with Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, tells us about 3 percent of the U.S. population is affected by it. Excessive sweating can be caused by overactive sweat glands, which are typically triggered by hot temperatures, exercise, stress, and even normal daily activities. Dr. Garshick says sweating usually worsens in the lower back and groin area, the specific parts of the body we're focusing on today (aka swamp ass; ew), "with sexual activity, increased weight, prolonged sitting, and wearing nonabsorbent clothing made of synthetic materials." Why? Because the individual "may have greater sensitivity of their sweat glands in this area." Dr. Jody Levine tells us this is referred to as Focal primary hyperhidrosis. If you are uncertain about your levels of sweating, aesthetic nurse practitioner Danielle Smith and Joey Chancis, founders of Labb Aesthetic Beauty Bar, advise seeing your dermatologist to determine whether you have hyperhidrosis or not.

Generally, those who are affected by hyperhidrosis have a family member who is also affected by it; Dr. Garshick says that's the case for about 60 to 80 percent of hyperhidrosis sufferers. Smith and Chancis add that while "due to hormonal influences" men typically sweat more than women, men and women are equally affected by hyperhidrosis. (Women, according to Dr. Jody Levine, however, sweat more consistently due to higher skin temperatures.) "Excess sweat, particularly when it is occurring all over your body," Dr. Garshick says, "can be a clue to a problem with your hormones, an infection, cancer, and it can even be related to a medication you may be taking." She advises seeing your doctor to find out whether the condition is indicative of a larger medical problem. 

How do you go about preventing and treating the excess sweat down there, though—especially if it's reached swamp-ass level? Some answers are below, but to reiterate what the professionals say, seeing your doctor, dermatologist, and/or endocrine specialist will help you find a solution for your unique, individual body.

+ Wear lightweight and breathable fabrics. Dr. Garshick says these materials help prevent moisture buildup. In a similar vein, Smith and Chancis suggest microfiber underwear for a nice buffer between you and your clothes. All three advise avoiding silk and flannel, as those materials tend to promote sweating. Dr. Garshick adds, "It is especially important to dry the groin area after a workout if it is very sweaty to prevent irritation, breakdown of the skin, and a foul odor from developing."

+ Dr. Garshick advises monitoring what you ingest because alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods "can make sweating worse." 

+ Baby powders and antiperspirants, when applied to dry skin, can help reduce symptoms, but they are merely temporary. Dr. Garshick says wet skin won't allow for those products to work their magic. All three advise looking for aluminum chloride hexahydrate formulas and echo the International Hyperhidrosis Society's suggestion of applying at night "for better effectiveness the next day." Your dermatologist may prescribe a stronger antiperspirant that can plug pores. 

+ "Oral agents," Dr. Garshick says, "including anticholinergic medications, such as glycopyrrolate, definitely work to dry up your sweat." However, Dr. Garshick, Smith, and Chancis all stress the importance of seeing a dermatologist specializing in hyperhidrosis for these kinds of treatments.

+  Places like the Labb Aesthetic Beauty Bar offer Botox treatments for underarm hyperhidrosis and scalp sweat. Dr. Garshick confirms Botox is FDA-approved to treat this and says the "big advantage with Botox treatments is the longer lasting effects," which are months-long rather than the hours-to-days-long effects of topical and oral medications. Botox does not typically aid in treating swamp ass, though.

+ Dr. Levine says a procedure known as miraDry® is only FDA-approved for underarm sweating but is currently being tested on non-axillary areas. She says it's "a safe and lasting fix for excessive sweat and odor." It uses miraWave energy to target and eliminate sweat and odor glands in your underarm area.

+ There are treatments that target the groin area, but they are pretty challenging. Dr. Garshick mentions a treatment called iontophoresis, "which uses an electrical current to block the sweat ducts." It employs a type of machine that is, unfortunately at this time, difficult to use properly in the groin and requires two to three treatments a week. Dr. Garshick says a truly permanent solution for lower back/groin hyperhidrosis is removing the sweat glands or nerves through surgery. However, she says that option is "associated with risks and are not routinely performed for excess groin sweat."