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Sweat, the production of a watery excretion from the skin in the process of sweating.

Sweat is not pure water; it always contains a small amount (0.2 - 1%) of solute. When a person moves from a cold climate to a hot climate, adaptive changes occur in their sweating mechanisms. This process is referred to as acclimatisation: the maximum rate of sweating increases and its solute composition decreases. The volume of water lost in sweat daily is highly variable, ranging from 100 to 8,000 mL/day. The solute loss can be as much as 350 mmol/day (or 90 mmol/day acclimatised) of sodium under the most extreme conditions. In a cool climate & in the absence of exercise, sodium loss can be very low (less than 5 mmols/day). Sodium concentration in sweat is 30-65 mmol/l, depending on the degree of acclimatisation.

Sweat is readily visualized by a topical indicator such as iodinated starch (minor test) or sodium alizarin sulphonate. Both of which undergo a dramatic colour change when moistened by sweat. A thermoregulatory sweat test can evaluate the body’s response to a thermal stimulus by inducing sweating through a hot box ⁄ room, thermal blanket or exercise. Failure of the topical indicator to undergo a colour change during thermoregulatory sweat testing indicates hypohidrosis, and further tests may be required to localize the lesion.


Sweat contains mainly water. It also contains minerals, as well as lactate and urea. Mineral composition will vary with the individual, the acclimatisation to heat, exercise and sweating, the particular stress source (exercise, sauna, etc.), the duration of sweating, and the composition of minerals in the body. An indication of the minerals content is: sodium 0.9 gram/liter, potassium 0.2 gram/liter, calcium 0.015 gram/liter, magnesium 0.0013 gram/liter[1]. Also many other trace elements are excreted in sweat, again an indication of their concentration is (although measurements can vary fifteenfold): zinc (0.4 mg/l), copper (0.3 - 0.8 mg/l), iron (1 mg/l), chromium (0.1 mg/l), nickel (0.05 mg/l), lead (0.05 mg/l). [2] [3]. Probably many other less abundant trace minerals will leave the body through sweating with correspondingly lower concentrations. In humans sweat is hyposmotic relative to plasma.[4]

Other components in sweat

Sweat and anxiety

Sweat and drugs

See also


  1. Sweat mineral-element responses during 7 h of exer...[Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2007] - PubMed Result
  2. Cohn JR, Emmett EA, The excretion of trace metals in human sweat., Ann Clin Lab Sci. 1978 Jul-Aug;8(4):270-5.,
  3. Saraymen et al., Sweat Copper, Zinc, Iron, Magnesium and Chomium levels in national westler. 1973
  4. BRS Physiology 4th edition, Linda S. Constanzo, page155

Further reading

  • Akutsu, T., Sekiguchi, K., Ohmori, T., & Sakurada, K. (2006). Individual Comparisons of the Levels of (E)-3-Methyl-2-Hexenoic Acid, an Axillary Odor-Related Compound, in Japanese: Chemical Senses Vol 31(6) Jul 2006, 557-563.
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  • Bedinger, G. M. (1984). Psychophysiological correlates of self-esteem: Dissertation Abstracts International.
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  • Boudreau, L. (1972). Transcendental meditation and yoga as reciprocal inhibitors: Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry Vol 3(2) Jun 1972, 97-98.
  • Brignell, C. M., & Curran, H. V. (2006). Drugs, sweat, and fears: A comparison of the effects of diazepam and methylphenidate on fear conditioning: Psychopharmacology Vol 186(4) Jul 2006, 504-516.
  • Brooksbank, B. W., Brown, R., & Gustafsson, J. A. (1974). The detection of 5a-androst-16-en-3a-ol in human male axillary sweat: Experientia Vol 30(8) 1974, 864-865.
  • Buchanan, K. L., & Goldsmith, A. R. (2004). Noninvasive endocrine data for behavioural studies: The importance of validation: Animal Behaviour Vol 67(1) Jan 2004, 183-185.
  • Campanati, A., Penna, L., Guzzo, T., Menotta, L., Silvestri, B., Lagalla, G., et al. (2003). Quality-of-Life Assessment in Patients with Hyperhidrosis Before and After Treatment with Botulinum Toxin: Results of an Open- Label Study: Clinical Therapeutics: The International Peer-Reviewed Journal of Drug Therapy Vol 25(1) Jan 2003, 298-313.
  • Carroll, W. E., Pinnick, H. A., & Whitaker, W. L. (1998). Lithium, exercise and sweat: Research Communications in Biological Psychology & Psychiatry Vol 23(3-4) 1998, 103-111.
  • Catania, J. J. (1983). Age changes in the physiological characteristics and electrodermal behavior of skin: Dissertation Abstracts International.
  • Catania, J. J., Thompson, L. W., Michalewski, H. A., & Bowman, T. E. (1980). Comparisons of sweat gland counts, electrodermal activity, and habituation behavior in young and old groups of subjects: Psychophysiology Vol 17(2) Mar 1980, 146-152.
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  • Deecher, D. C., & Dorries, K. (2007). Understanding the pathophysiology of vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) that occur in perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause life stages: Archives of Women's Mental Health Vol 10(6) 2007, 247-257.
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  • Dragovich, S. L. (1977). Manifestations of anxiety in elementary school children: Dissertation Abstracts International.
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  • Platek, S. M., Burch, R. L., & Gallup, G. G. (2001). Sex differences in olfactory self-recognition: Physiology & Behavior Vol 73(4) Jul 2001, 635-640.
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  • Strahan, R. F., Hill, M. K., & Mount, M. K. (1977). Site differences in electrolyte concentration assessed by the water bottle sweat measure: Psychophysiology Vol 14(6) Nov 1977, 609-612.
  • Strahan, R. F., Todd, J. B., & Inglis, G. B. (1974). A palmar sweat measure particularly suited for naturalistic research: Psychophysiology Vol 11(6) Nov 1974, 715-720.
  • Symon, D. N., Stewart, L., & Russell, G. (1985). Abnormally high sweat osmolality in children with Down's syndrome: Journal of Mental Deficiency Research Vol 29(3) Sep 1985, 257-261.
  • Turpin, G., & Clements, K. (1993). Electrodermal activity and psychopathology: The development of the Palmar Sweat Index (PSI) as an applied measure for use in clinical settings. New York, NY: Plenum Press.
  • Van der Goes Van Naters, W. M., & Rinkes, T. H. (1993). Taste stimuli for tsetse flies on the human skin: Chemical Senses Vol 18(4) Aug 1993, 437-444.
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  • Waterhouse, J., Aizawa, S., Nevill, A., Edwards, B., Weinert, D., Atkinson, G., et al. (2007). Rectal Temperature, Distal Sweat Rate, and Forearm Blood Flow Following Mild Exercise at Two Phases of the Circadian Cycle: Chronobiology International Vol 24(1) Feb 2007, 63-85.
  • Winhusen, T. M., Somoza, E. C., Singal, B., Kim, S., Horn, P. S., & Rotrosen, J. (2003). Measuring outcome in cocaine clinical trials: A comparison of sweat patches with urine toxicology and participant self-report: Addiction Vol 98(3) Mar 2003, 317-324.
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