Monitoring sweat- related dynamics, such as cumulative sweat loss, your temperature, and the sweat rate itself, especially over time, could be extremely helpful for doctors to diagnose various disorders thermoregulators and other diseases associated with heat stress.
However, there are currently no devices capable of accurately and continuously estimating or measuring these important parameters.
Now, researchers from Northwestern University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed an electronic device that can be used to wirelessly measure skin temperature, sweat rate, and sweat loss over time. real .
The device, presented in an article recently published in ‘Nature Electronics’, could be very useful when it comes to monitoring sweat-related dynamics, especially in a much more efficient and reliable way, over time.
Scientists have developed soft microfluidic devices capable of adhering to the surface of the skin. They then capture, store and perform biomarker analyzes of pristine microliter volumes of sweat as they are released through the action of the eccrine glands.
All this through a system that exploits a non-contact thermal base scheme to track the flow of sweat directly from the surface of the skin, eliminating the need for the microchannel structure.
One of the experts’ goals was to develop a completely wireless, digital platform capable of helping track what is known as the sweat “filling process” without having to visually examine the device.
Once this purpose has been achieved, its possibilities are very varied, since it could be useful to trace the processes associated with sweating among health workers and first responders, who habitually use devices under their protective equipment.
Thus, the device continuously communicates flow and total volume information to a smart mobile phone , while providing information on core body temperature.
How does the device work?
The device in question has been designed to be applied directly to the user’s skin. Once sweat-related information is collected, it is automatically sent to a smartphone via a low-energy bluetooth connectivity system.
The sensor designed by the researchers is capable of measuring sweat flow directly, and then using previously collected information to quantify total sweat loss, without the need for a microchannel structure, and without limitations.
What’s more, the device can be combined with advanced microfluidic or colorimetric chemical reagent systems to collect pH measurements, or even determine the concentration of glucose, creatinine or chloride in the user’s sweat .
Therefore, the electronic device on the skin presented by the experts could allow doctors and health specialists to collect information related to sweat in a much more reliable way, in real time. In this way, it could be useful in assisting in the diagnosis of a number of diseases and disorders associated with excessive or dysregulated sweating .
But it is clear that its possibilities are even greater, since the wireless and autonomous operation of the system would allow to expand the modes of use to address almost all possible applications, from sports to fitness to medical and even military uses.
Understanding sweat-related disorders and diseases
Sweat is secreted by the sweat glands, present in the deep layer of the skin (dermis), which are more numerous in certain parts of the body, such as the armpits, hands, feet, face and groin.
Sweating helps maintain a constant body temperature of 37ºC, by helping to cool the body. In fact, when the body temperature rises, the brain, through the nervous system, controls the secretion of sweat by the body. Thus, when sweat evaporates through the pores of the skin, heat is released and the temperature of the skin and body drops.
Hyperhidrosis , or excessive sweating, is usually one of the most common sweat disorders. It is usually primary or idiopathic, although certain genetic antecedents have been found.
However, hypohidrosis , while just as common, is characterized as a much less well-known disorder. It results in a lack of sweating, and can be present from birth, or develop later in a person’s life.
Since measuring sweating can be very complicated, the development of this type of device can be quite useful for clinicians.