There are numerous possible and rumoured antiperspirant side effects especially with the clinical strength types that we are seeing more commonly used with treatment for hyperhidrosis.
The main antiperspirant side effects found by many are things like a rash, inflammation and itching. This is quite common but often caused by misuse of the product – not following instructions or using far too much at once.
However there are numerous claims of clinical strength antiperspirants being linked to beast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. I’m NOT A DOCTOR in any way shape or form, but I have done the research on this and just want to give you the findings and my layman’s opinion on the subject.
Varying forms of aluminum salts are the main active ingredient within antiperspirants. They reduce the flow of sweat from the sweat gland to the skin surface by creating a temporary ‘plug’ on the sweat duct. Once the duct is blocked the body puts a hold on the delivery of sweat to that duct. Aerosol and roll-on products commonly contain aluminium chlorohydrate. Gels and other solid products are most likely to contain a different aluminium salt called aluminium zirconium.
When you start looking at clinical strength antiperspirants for the treatment of mild to moderate hyperhidrosis we generally see Aluminium chloride used. This is much stronger and can potentially cause the aforementioned rash, inflammation and itching related antiperspirant side effects.
When reading up on side effects it’s very hard to separate the truth from the absolute crud. That said we all know that people love to scaremonger and there have been numerous tactics to scare people into believing that antiperspirants increase the risk of breast cancer or Alzheimer’s. These include emails and internet scare tactics to SELL something. Rumours fly around the internet like locust fly through crops. An article called ‘Can Rumours Cause Cancer‘ is well worth a read.
Some studies have claimed or at least theorised that aluminium salt based antiperspirants may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Furthermore they claim that it develops in the part of the breast closest to the armpit. The theory is that the aluminium chemicals are absorbed into the skin and and interact with DNA and possibly cause cancerous alterations in cells. A damn big claim considering the number of women who will contract breast cancer each year.
Flip side – well designed studies of 100’s of women with breast cancer have shown that there is no relation with breast cancer at all. It’s thought that many of the studies relating cancer to antiperspirants were flawed and so produced false results.
Some trash claims are easy to spot as they are generally doing it for ulterior motives – money normally. It’s really difficult though for anyone, including me, to separate the reality from what could be classed as the ‘credible’ side effect claims. I’ve read many reports from actual professional though and my conclusion is that if you have underarm hyperhidrosis and it’s affecting your life, try the antiperspirant. It’s FDA approved and I’ve not seen any evidence that would come close to convincing me of it’s validity.
Clinical strength antiperspirants have been linked to Alzheimer’s as I understand it mainly due to studies in the ’60’s that found high levels of aluminium in Alzheimer sufferers brains. It wasn’t just antiperspirants that came under fire though, in fact they questioned the use of aluminium cans and antacids as well.
However, times move on and nobody has repeated these findings since and it appears that aluminium has been exonerated from being a cause of this terrible disease.
The FDA requires antiperspirants to carry a warning in line with consulting a doctor before using antiperspirants if you suffer from kidney disease. This was essentially born many years ago when people suffering from kidney disease were given aluminium hydroxide to help control phosphorus levels in their blood. Due to malfunctioning kidneys they couldn’t remove the aluminium quickly enough so it started to build up. It was seen that these build-ups of aluminium were likely to cause dementia.
With antiperspirants though it would be a case of absorbing the aluminium thorough your skin, which is a totally different route of exposure than having a direct aluminium medication. It would be practically impossible to absorb the same amounts through the skin. You would have to literally eat the damn stuff to get anywhere near the same levels.
If you have anything to add to this or wish to discuss further then please add a comment or by all means contact me directly at email@example.com