The Sweaty Nurse's Remedy List
Year round, I get so hot when I'm at work, I can't stand it. I'm always on the move, turning patients, running for bed alarms, lifting, bending....and sweating! Others have told me they have a similar problem and are tired of looking gross and smelling bad after only an hour on shift.
So I have a few tips for all of you sweaty nurses.
Keep in mind - not everything works for everyone in all settings, so pick and choose the ones that will work for you. (ALWAYS keep infection control in mind!)
1. Wicking Fabrics: Yes, there are special scrubs made to keep you cool. Special fabrics pull sweat from your skin and speed evaporation. Some are more breathable fabrics, or have special mesh panels. I recently made the switch after carelessly buying tops that were a poly blend. Sweating like it was the 70s in here. Many sources say that poly blends are better at sweat wicking than cotton, for example, but I’m just not convinced. There are many lines of "sporty" scrubs. I encourage you to either get to a local scrub store to try a bunch on, or read online reviews before purchasing. Buy sweat-wicking undies and sports bras while you’re at it.
My new favorite tops are all one color (for my institution’s dress code) but the side panels and sleeves are like a t-shirt material while the rest is a stretchy poly knit. The difference it made was so big, I ordered a few of the same top.
This is an unpaid, non-sponsored statement when I say that the Cherokee iFlex collection saved my sweaty self. I also like the t-shirt fabric of Benefit Stealth scrub and find I’m the coolest in these.
*wicking fabric side note: I also am repping the 1980s when I sport my wrist warmers. Remember those little terrycloth stretchy wristbands and headbands people wore with their neon spandex? Well, I wear one high on my forearm for convenient mopping of the damp brow (eeew!) Be mindful of what that forearm touches for infection control purposes - you don’t wanna be spreading MRSA or C. dif all over your face.
2. Bring a Breeze. Ok, so, I bought a wearable fan on Amazon (see below). You wear it around your neck like a necklace (it has a break away adjustable lanyard) and it sucks air from in front of you and a little spinning fan blows it up at your neck and face. It runs on 2 AA batteries and was worth the whopping $10 I paid for it. Now, I can't go to work without this tiny device.
For me, it makes the most difference of all these interventions. BUT you gotta be careful in situations where you may not want what's in front of you blowing at your face. I take off in isolation rooms and I turn it off if I'm doing something with bodily substances. I take it off for anything that could be gross or contaminating. Also note that the whirring sound sometimes throws patients off, so just be aware that your patient may be like “what’s that noise?”
If you can't get or use one of those, there are little foldable fans that look like frisbees. you can carry them in your pocket and take them out and pop them open to fan yourself cool again.
Bottom line is, have a little fanning device that's not your report sheet.
3. Powder Fresh All Day: Get some kind of body powder for sweaty areas, like Gold Bond or something similar. In a pinch I once sprayed myself down with dry shampoo, though I can't really recommend that for your skin.
I use these things after my shower, and before my shift. If I wait until after I start to sweat it’s already too late.
4. Freshen Up in Private: When you go to the bathroom - IF you get a bathroom break - lift your shirt up and fan off a little bit. Splash a bit of cold water on your face or back of your neck.
I keep face washing wipes in my bag to keep myself from looking shiny. I keep a couple feminine wipes with me, too, just in case. For those extra sweaty days, that extra set of clean scrubs I keep in my locker come in very handy.
If all else fails, when you take refrigerated meds out, linger with the door open for an extra 5 seconds.
Most importantly, stay hydrated.
I hope these things help.