Does sweating make children sick?

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Don't sweat that otherwise you'll get sick!

How many times have we heard this phrase from our parents or grandparents when we were little? And even today the belief that sweating makes you sick is quite widespread, albeit there is no scientific evidence to prove it, indeed!

"Several researches indicate that physical activity, moderate and regular, but also vigorous, therefore with sweating, at any time of the year is one of the pillars, together with proper nutrition and regular lifestyles, of staying in good health" states the dr. Alberto Ferrando, family pediatrician, President of the Ligurian pediatricians association and author of the book How to feed my son. 

Not only: physical activity raises and strengthens the immune defenses even if the temperature is low, even if you sweat!

In this article

  • sweating doesn't make you sick
  • the function of sweat
  • sudden changes in temperature
  • if the child is very sweaty

Sweating does not make children sick

Some beliefs are really difficult to eradicate, and in fact in 2022 there are still parents who fear that if their child sweats too much, perhaps because he is playing with his friends, he can get sick more easily. But this is not the case!

"Don't run, don't sweat, don't go outside, otherwise you'll get sick! It's a mantra that has followed me throughout my childhood - says Dr. Ferrando jokingly - associated with many others that many will remember, like" if you hurt yourself take "or the infamous" do not bathe for 2-3 hours after eating "which has no scientific basis, but is still rampant on the beaches".

"Sometimes - continues Ferrando - for fear that the child will sweat play and spontaneous physical activity are inhibited but we must instead know that children who practice outdoor physical activity have more physical stamina and less chance of getting sick thanks to a stronger immune system"In short, it is not sweat that makes you sick, but rather other concomitant factors, such as sudden changes in temperature, which can weaken the immune defenses of young and old.

Whether it's summer or winter, we leave children free to run, have fun and even sweat. Sweat does not make you sick and has a very specific function.

Read also: Winter and children: why they have to be outdoors even if it's cold or the weather isn't nice

What is the function of sweat?

Evaporation of sweat draws heat away from the body and serves the purpose of keep the temperature constant internal organism that tends to increase when you move. "When we sweat, metabolism increases (heart rate and output increases) and sweating serves to normalize body temperature which increases when moderate to intense physical activity is performed" explains Dr. Ferrando. Furthermore, with sweating, many toxins and impurities are eliminated through the pores of the skin. 

Read also: Hyperhidrosis and Dyshidrosis: when children sweat too much

Beware of sudden changes in temperature

Whether the climate is hot or cold, little changes, according to science there is no cause-and-effect relationship between sweating and getting sick, even if some still struggle to believe it! If after a good sweat the child has symptoms such as runny nose, cough or even fever, it is not the fault of the sweat, but much more likely of a sudden temperature gap the child was exposed to, a common situation in both winter and summer.

Let's do a simple one example: if it is hot outside and the child is very sweaty, letting him "suddenly" enter a house where there are 22/23 degrees, or in a car with the air conditioning at maximum, is not the best choice because his body undergoes a nice change in temperature. The constant changes in temperature do nothing but weaken the immune system, thus facilitating the entry into the body of viruses and bacteria, the real culprits of seasonal ailments. The negative consequences of this situation are mainly borne by the respiratory system: therefore there will be colds, coughs and pharyngitis, all symptoms of the classic "summer flu". Sweat alone cannot be responsible for any disease because to get sick the presence of a virus or bacterium is necessary, otherwise the infection could not occur. However, this does not mean that it is necessary to be a little cautious when the child is very sweaty or hot.

Read also: Air conditioning and children, 6 tips for a correct use

What to do when the baby is sweaty

If your child has been running, jumping, playing and sweating, there are a few simple precautions to take avoid sudden changes in temperature which can negatively affect your immune system.

"The advice I can give to parents is to dress children appropriately because the most frequent diseases such as colds, coughs and sore throats are not caused by sweat, but are favored by inappropriate clothing "- explains Ferrando, who then continues" even if you don't change your sweaty clothing or if after a shower the baby is not dried well, there is a risk that his body will suffer a sudden change in temperature and that he will suffer respiratory symptoms. "Likewise, if after a good and useful sweat he makes himself sit still the child in a cold environment, without changing clothes or without adequate coverage, there is a risk that you will fall ill.

"We must remember to cover little children when they do physical activity and to cover them adequately when they stop from activity. This allows children, but also adults, to play or train and have fun in complete safety, even when temperatures are low. , without increasing the risk of infections. Indeed, as I have already said, regular physical activity, even vigorous, helps to increase our body's defenses ", concludes the pediatrician.

In summary, after the child has sweated it is important:

  • quickly change clothes;
  • cover it properly;
  • give him a shower and dry him properly;
  • wear a hat if it is not possible to dry the hair.

With these small precautions, the little ones will be free to run and jump without the risk of getting sick, both in winter and in summer!

Read also: How to prevent colds in children? Useful tips to avoid it

Sources used:

Advice from dr. Alberto Ferrando, family pediatrician and President of the Ligurian pediatricians association;

Information material of the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in the city.

  • summer
  • seasonal ailments
  • physical activity
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