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The Weird Way Your Tattoos May Affect How You Sweat

nked up? Your tattoos change the way you cool down when you're sprinting on the bike. Get the science behind the sweat, ahead.

Sweating it out is pretty much a given in SoulCycle class, but if you're a rider with ink, a new study finds that tattooed parts of your skin may actually sweat less (and sweat saltier) than non-tattooed skin.

Researchers from Alma College published a study in Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, investigating how tattoos affect sweat levels, considering that tattoo ink and eccrine sweat glands are both in the dermis layer of skin. Using 10 men with tattoos (of at least 5.2 centimeters in size) on one side of their body, the researchers stimulated their sweat glands and found that inked-up areas produced less sweat compared to the same area on the side with non-tattooed skin, and this sweat had a higher sodium concentration.

Sweat keeps your body temperature in check and its composition matters. "A higher sodium concentration means the sweat glands are reabsorbing less sodium [back into your body]," lead study author Maurie Luetkemeier, PhD, tells SOUL. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but saltier sweat doesn't evaporate as well, which messes with the cooling process.

However, tats won't make you automatically overheat when you're tapping it back. "There's probably something there that needs to be studied, but we certainly are a long ways from saying that individuals who are heavily tattooed are at risk of heat injury," says Luetkemeier. Here's what you should know about the findings:

For one, the sweat glands were chemically stimulated in this study, not by exercise. "When we heat somebody up or when they create body heat, we don't know that the sweat glands would operate the same way as what we saw," he says.

Other parts of your body may produce more sweat to make up for tattooed areas. This wasn't demonstrated in this particular study, but other research shows that normally functioning sweat glands compensate for those that don't work as well, Luetkemeier explains.

Tattooed or not, the number one way to prevent overheating is to hydrate, hydrate,

hydrate. “[Hydrating] makes more water available so it can be directed down to the sweat

glands," he says. This keeps your body cooling the way it should be, not to mention it's important for avoiding dehydration.

For now, there's no need to proceed with caution if you're tattooed. "There's plenty of evidence to demonstrate that people who are heavily tattooed can [sweat efficiently] — there are some pretty good athletes that are pretty heavily tattooed," Luetkemeier adds.

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Article by Alexa Tucker
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