Sweat and fighting germs

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: June 26th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Sweating… It happens when you’re hot, nervous or scared… or after a vigorous bout of pulse-raising, deodorant-draining exercise.

Perspiration is your body’s highly efficient cooling system, helping maintain a fairly consistent core temperature… about ninety-eight-point-six degrees Fahrenheit.

The body’s sweat glands are tiny structures seated deep in the skin. Each consists of a coiled tube that secretes the sweat and a narrow opening that transports it to the skin’s surface.

The average person has three-million sweat glands, many of them located on the palms and soles of the feet. Sweat is ninety-nine percent water, plus small amounts of other substances such as salt.

Your skin is already known to harbor substances that help repair injured skin and aid wound healing. Now some scientists have hit on a similar benefit when it comes to sweat: It just might help you battle infection.

German researchers, writing in the journal Nature Immunology, have discovered that human sweat features a germ-fighting substance that appears to be part of your body’s front-line defense against the bugs that cause disease. The protein, called dermcidin [derm-ih-SIDE-in], was isolated from samples of human sweat.

The scientists identified the gene that instructs the body to manufacture the protein and found it is active in sweat glands. They also proved that dermcidin effectively tackles disease-causing bacteria, including those that cause skin infections like impetigo.

So next time you break out in a sweat, don’t sweat its helpful properties.