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Regional variations in transepidermal water loss, eccrine sweat gland density, sweat secretion rates and electrolyte composition in resting and exercising humans

DOI: 10.1186/2046-7648-2-4

Keywords: Eccrine sweat gland, Electrolyte, Glandular density, Insensible perspiration, Sudomotor, Sweat, Thermal sweating, Transepidermal water loss

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Human skin contains glands that secrete watery fluids directly onto the skin surface: apocrine glands (milky fluid), eccrine sweat glands (serous fluid) and the apoeccrine glands (serous fluid [1]). The focus of this review is upon the eccrine sweat glands, with a particular emphasis upon the thermal sweating that subserves temperature regulation at rest and during exercise. However, brief discussion of non-thermal control is included, and for completeness, the movement of water through the skin in both its liquid (active sweating) and gaseous phases (transepidermal water loss), as well as the electrolyte content of sweat, are covered.The classical works of Kuno [2,3] provided comprehensive summaries of sweat gland function, to which significant supplementary contributions have been provided by List [4], Weiner and Hellmann [5], Wang [6], Sato [7], Quinton [8] and Sato et al. [9]. However, this area of research is relatively small, and advances have frequently been dictated by the growth and decline of a few laboratories, often driven by medical, military or commercial needs. Recently, this field has experienced another resurgence, with one stimulus coming from clothing and fabric manufacturers seeking to develop garments that optimise evaporative heat dissipation. The vapour resistance of these textiles and ensembles is evaluated using thermal manikins, and so the development of the latest generation of these devices demands precise information concerning the regional distribution of eccrine sweat glands and their rates of secretion [10].Two groups recently revisited the regional distribution of human sweating (Loughborough University, UK and the University of Wollongong, Australia). The former was primarily focussed on the requirements of clothing manufacturers, whilst the latter addressed questions relevant to the design of sweating, thermal manikins. Both assumed that the literature might provide these answers, but precise details regarding the topography of swe


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