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It is very hot in Brazil right now. Temperatures have been reaching 36C and I find myself sweating very intensely most of the day. It seems like my body goes into a panic, starts sweating and does not stop even for 15-20 minutes after entering an air-conditioned area. It is very humid, so my sweat does not dry.

The thing is, I'm the only wet and looking like I stepped in a shower with my clothes on. The Brazilians are dry and don't even smell sweaty like me. I am already wearing very light loose-fitting clothes made mostly of cotton or linen which fare better than anything synthetic (I get even more wet with polyester and performance fabrics). I walk with a small towel which I use to dry myself often but even my eyes get wet and it interferes with me seeing where I'm going. The heat makes me thirsty to which I drink water at about 1.5-2L per day. This is the most sold item on the street, so I presume its also what the Brazilians drink mostly and they also seem to be mostly wearing cotton.

This is causing a serious problem in that I am losing my sunscreen very rapidly. Even waterproof and sport sunscreen lasts only a little longer than regular but still easily under an hour. To compensate, I am using a hat - which you rarely see Brazilans with - but that makes me sweat more, so I alternate and allow the breeze to make me feel less hot from time to time.

Can my body sweat less in high heat and humidity?

  • Is there a change in diet or supplements that would improve my body's reaction?
  • Are there medications or pharmaceuticals to help with this?
  • Will my body eventually simply adapt on its own?
  • Or is there a genetic factor, meaning that I'm simply not made for this?
  • Possible duplicate of travel.stackexchange.com/questions/34349/… ? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Mar 4 '17 at 13:45
  • Fair, so I have adjusted the text to ask specifically for humid weather. It makes quite a difference as I found myself coping better at 40C dry than 32C humid. – Itai Mar 4 '17 at 14:16
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    I think the 'easiest' solution is to avoid the street altogether during the day, which is also what most middle and upper class locals usually do. But that's not a good answer. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Mar 4 '17 at 16:14
  • @JonathanReez - Indeed there is much more activity late in the day here in Brazil but the streets are full during the day of people who are not me and not sweating ;) – Itai Mar 4 '17 at 22:50
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Your body is not used to the level of heat & humidity and is simply reacting as it should. On the other hand the locals' bodies are adapted to the heat and would likely freeze in a colder country.

Sadly there is no magic bullet, your body simply needs to acclimate which takes years, not days or weeks. Your body needs to shed internal layers of insulating fat, adapt the skin to higher humidity, allow capillaries to radiate more heat.

The biggest worry is overheating, if your body can not cool the core temperature down quick enough. If you are constantly sweating, especially after going indoors, then your cooling system is not winning the battle. And you need to slow down, relax more indoors.

For sun protection, forget sunscreen and get loose fitting long sleeved cotton shorts, pants and a hat. Sunscreen, especially the "waterproof/sweatproof" types actually hinders your body's sweating process leading to more overheating.

As you are already doing, drinks lots of fluids, but include some electrolyte drinks as well as water to replace some of the chemicals you are losing through sweat.

Add a little salt to your diet, perhaps simply shaking a bit more on your lunch or dinner foods to help replace your body's losses.

  • Sounds good advice. The Brazilians already added too much salt to my diet though! Good to know about the sunscreen, could have been making it worse but it's hard to go on without at all times but I will replace it with the hat more. I still have a few months of extremely hot countries to be (with a 3-day break in Prague end-of-winter) so I guess my body won't be adapted while still traveling. – Itai Mar 4 '17 at 22:54
  • After some trials and error, the avoid sunscreen part just doesn't work though. There's just light reaching around edges that can't be blocked unless I got a Mexican sombrero which wouldn't fit in my luggage anyway :) – Itai Mar 13 '17 at 1:50
  • @itai - There is no harm in using sunscreen in a few small areas. It is more about covering big areas (arms, legs, back, entire face, etc) with sunscreen that you should try and avoid. – user13044 Mar 13 '17 at 13:36
  • Finally I had a week of not using any sunscreen at all, there simply is no sun in Vietnam and I still come back to the hotel as if I jumped into a pool with my clothes on. I'm at two changes of clothes and three cold showers per day. – Itai Apr 10 '17 at 0:46
  • @Itai - three showers a day, you are finally started to live like a local. – user13044 Apr 10 '17 at 1:47
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  • Leave the city area. Big cities with millions of residents are literally heat islands, even when they cool down at night the heat can be absolutely stifling. Remember that air conditioning only moves heat out, meaning that all those air conditioning outside the hotels heats the environment. Try to move to forested or coastal areas.

  • Drink much, but only small portions very frequently. The more you are drinking at once, the more will your body sweat, so while you need much water, drink only mouthfuls frequently.

  • There is no real way apart from air conditioning to protect against heat. This is one thing where being cold is better, you can always put some warm clothes on. The only thing to avoid heat is having no heat: using the night, going underground or staying only in air-conditioned rooms...but it really spoils your holiday.

  • Very cold showers/baths. If you are used to it, it helps to strengthen your cardiovascular system and has a very refreshing effect.

  • Japanese/Chinese mint oil. Be very careful with it, it is hurting like hell on mucous membranes and if you get it in the eyes, it is worse than pepper spray. It contains menthol which gives a cold stimulus without lowering the body temperature, one drop is very refreshing. One trick is to use 5 drops in a full cold bath.

  • Body constituition: I can relate to it, I seriously hate humid hot regions, but can tolerate temperatures which many people find cold and icy. One thing is that being obese or overweight is a severe disadvantage, because it combines high mass with comparatively smaller surface area and higher insulation.

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