Putting on antiperspirant/deodorant is an important hygiene practice that some of us take for granted. Do you actually know what you’re applying under your armpits each day? In general, antiperspirants contain metallic salts like aluminum chlorohydrate that react with sweat to form plugs in the sweat duct, which eventually sends negative feedback to stop sweating for 24 hours or until the antiperspirant is washed off. It is also important to know whether you are putting on antiperspirant/deodorant and not just deodorant because the latter will only mask the scent of the perspiration and will not prevent the sweating at all. Antiperspirant/deodorant comes in many formulations from sticks to sprays. Sticks are usually recommended for underarms, whereas sprays are recommended for extremities like the feet and hands. Antiperspirant/deodorant also comes in a roll-on alcohol gel that provides a cooling effect as it dries when applied, but it can sometimes be irritating to certain patients with sensitive skin. Aside from the different formulations, there are also different strengths of antiperspirant/deodorants from gentle, regular strength to clinical strength for excessive sweaters. Experts recommend, antiperspirant deodorants should be applied at least once daily at bedtime or once in the morning and once at night.
Since we are applying these products every day to sensitive areas such as the underarms and other parts of the body, the question begs, “Are antiperspirant/deodorants safe?” Another ingredient contained in some of the antiperspirant/deodorants is triclosan, an antibacterial agent used to kill the bacteria that creates odor found in sweat. There has been suspicion and concerns from the community that triclosan is linked to breast cancer. However, FDA has concluded that there is no sufficient safety evidence to deter the average consumer from using antiperspirant deodorants containing triclosan. Another past concern of daily usage of antiperspirant/deodorant was Alzheimer’s disease due to the aluminum content. But Alzheimer’s disease experts have long been convinced that aluminum alone is not a key risk factor and that the relationship between two has not been conclusively proven. So apply away to your heart’s content, and again pay attention to what you’re putting on your body each day.
Posted by Kayne Chan, PharmD Candidate 2016, Edited by Sam Shimomura, PharmD, FASHP