Your body works best when its temperature is about 98.6ºF (37ºC). When your body gets hotter than that, your brain doesn't like it — it wants your body to stay cool and comfortable. So the part of your brain that controls temperature, called the hypothalamus (say: hi-po-THAL-uh-mus), sends a message to your body, telling it to sweat.
Then special glands in your skin called — what else? — sweat glands start making sweat. Sweat is also known as perspiration (say: pur-spuh-RAY-shun), and it is made almost completely of water, with tiny amounts of other chemicals like ammonia (say: uh-MOWN-yuh), urea (say: yoo-REE-uh), salts, and sugar. (Ammonia and urea are left over when your body breaks down protein.)
The sweat leaves your skin through tiny holes called pores. When the sweat hits the air, the air makes it evaporate (this means it turns from a liquid to a vapor). As the sweat evaporates off your skin, you cool down.
Sweat is a great cooling system, but if you're sweating a lot on a hot day or after playing hard you could be losing too much water through your skin. Then you need to put liquid back in your body by drinking plenty of water so you won't get dehydrated (say: dee-HI-drayt-ed).
Sweat isn't just wet — it can be kind of stinky, too. But the next time you get a whiff of yourself after running around outside and want to blame your sweat glands, hold on!
Sweat by itself doesn't smell at all. It's the bacteria that live on your skin that mix with the sweat and give it a stinky smell. And when you reach puberty, special hormones affect the glands in your armpits — these glands make sweat that can really smell.
Luckily, regular washing with soap and water can usually keep stinky sweat under control. Many teens and adults also find that wearing deodorant (say: dee-OH-der-ent) or antiperspirant (say: an-tee-PUR-sper-ent) helps.
So don't worry about a little sweat — it's totally normal and everybody sweats. Sometimes too much sweating can be a sign that there is something wrong in the body, but this is rare in kids. If you notice more sweat, it's usually just a sign that it's time to start using a deodorant or antiperspirant. But if you think you have a sweat problem, talk to your parent or your doctor about it.
Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date reviewed: May 2015
|BrainPop This is a great site for kids with informational movies about science, anatomy, weather, and more.|
|Stalking the Mysterious Microbe On this American Society for Microbiology site, kids can learn more about bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.|
|Why Do Feet Stink? Your hard-working feet sometimes start stinking. Find out why in this article for kids.|
|Taking Care of Your Skin What does your skin ask for in return for all the wonderful things it does? Just a little care and consideration, so learn more about taking care of your skin by reading our article for kids.|
|All About Puberty Voice cracking? Clothes don't fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn't have to be. Read all about it in this article for kids.|
|Why Drinking Water Is the Way to Go All living things need water to survive. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|What's the Big Sweat About Dehydration? Our bodies need water to work properly. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|How to Be Safe When You're in the Sun It's fun to be outside on a hot, sunny day. But too much sun and heat can make you feel terrible. Find out how to stay safe in this article for kids.|
|What's Earwax? Why do our ears make earwax? Find out in this article for kids.|
|What's Puke? Did you ever toss your cookies? That means throw up, or puke. It's gross, but just about everyone has done it. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|What's Spit? Saliva, also known as spit, is a clear liquid that's made in your mouth 24 hours a day, every day. If you want to know more about spit and what it's made of, check out this article for kids.|
|What's a Fart? All people fart sometimes, whether they live in France, the Fiji islands, or Fresno, California! Learn more about what gives gas its sass in our article for kids about farts.|
|What's a Scab? Just about everyone has had one of these on their knee. Find out how scabs help you heal.|
|When Can I Wear Deodorant? Sniff, sniff. Read this article if you're wondering when to start wearing deodorant.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.