Antiperspirants and deodorants are often confused with each other because they are similar in many ways. Both are topical solutions to persistent sweating. However, while deodorants simply mask the sweat with fragrant odor and do not stop sweating at all, antiperspirants actually stop the pores from sweating because of its active aluminum chloride ingredient.

When people perspire to a level beyond the normal requirement of the body, their social functioning is typically affected. Excessive sweating is a medical condition referred to as hyperhidrosis. It causes discomfort and embarrassment to sufferers especially when sweating is accompanied by bad odor.

To solve sweating and bad odor, antiperspirants are applied to the skin in the armpit areas, as well as the hands and feet. Antiperspirants can be bought over-the-counter (OTC) but the safest way is for your dermatologist to prescribe their use. Antiperspirants contain zirconium and aluminum chloride which stops the skin pores from sweating. They act by inhibiting the eccrine and apocrine glands from secreting and releasing sweat through the skin. Commercially available antiperspirants may contain a stronger aluminum salt solution called aluminum chloride hexahydrate in anhydrous alcohol, tannic acid solution, formalin solution and glutaraldehyde solution. Many people believe aluminum chloride salts is one factor in developing breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease but these remain inconclusive according to the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health. Therefore aluminum chloride in antiperspirants is harmless to use.

Antiperspirants come in various strength of aluminum chloride content, but those with “clinical” strength label are a bit more expensive.  Clinical strength antiperspirants are more effective in reducing sweating and with less incidence of skin irritation. Some of the brands of prescription and over-the-counter antiperspirants are listed below:

  • Drysol is a prescription antiperspirant with 20% Aluminum Chloride in anhydrous ethyl alcohol. If used to treat hyperhidrosis of the hand and underarm, effectiveness is moderate on long term use. For best result, apply to affected areas and leave for 6 hours or apply before bedtime and wash off the next morning.
  • Odaban is a prescription antiperspirant widely recommended by dermatologists and doctors worldwide. It is the first ever antiperspirant to use 20% Aluminum Chloride sold in the market. Unlike the roll-ons, Odaban comes in spray pump that’s easy to use in all areas with excessive sweating. It is extremely effective and the product is available for the treatment of underarm sweating, facial sweating, sweaty palms and feet including sweating in the private parts of the body. It is recommended for compensatory sweating and treating secondary hyperhidrosis. Using the product for weeks will reduce sweating and control odor without any side effects.
  • Maxim Antiperspirant is another popular brand recommended by physicians for both sexes but is available over-the-counter. Maxim contains only 15% Aluminum Chloride and is a scent-free roll-on that can be used for 2-3 months with effectiveness noticeable immediately after 3 days of use. It is usually applied before bedtime and will not be rinsed off even after bathing. Antiperspirant Wipes for facial sweating are also available.
  • Driclor contains the same level of Aluminum Chloride but because of the astringent effect, it dries the skin. Itchiness, soreness, tingling and rash can result from it.
  • Xertac AC with 6.25% Aluminum Chloride is also a prescription antiperspirant for hyperhidrosis, however not as effective as Drisol.
  • Certain-Dri Antiperspirant is not a prescription antiperspirant. Certain-Dri Antiperspirant Roll-On has 12.5 %  in Aluminum Chloride while Certain-Dri Solid Antiperspirant with anhydrous 25% of aluminum sesquichlorohydrate. It is applied before bedtime and will not be washed off in the morning.
  • Mitchum SmartSolid contains 20 % of Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex (20%), water-based and no underarm stain on clothes. Mitchum uses OdorGuard technology to rid of odor and bacteria. It contains moisturizer to prevent skin irritation.
  • Secret Clinical Strength is not a prescription antiperspirant; however it has been clinically tested to contain prescription strength of 20% Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex. It has triple protection against bacteria, odor and wetness.
  • Degree Clinical Protection contains 20 % prescription strength of Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY that works along with “TRIsolid” technology for fragrant odor, wetness protection and moisturizer. It does not leave any stain or irritate sensitive skin but must not be applied to broken skin. Two clicks on the underarm before sleep can give you 24-hour protection, and it is not rinsed off even after shower.

Finding the best antiperspirant is a matter of discovering what product is best for your sweating problem. You can start with over-the-counter antiperspirants with lower clinical strength. If they don’t work, ask your physician for prescription antiperspirants.

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