What does your sweat say about your health? Wearing a new skin patch during exercise may help you find out. Scientists say they have developed a quarter-sized device that sticks to your skin and analyzes your sweat.
Sweat is worth analyzing, experts say. The beads of sweat we manufacture and quickly brush away while we're engaged in physical activity can offer important insights into our overall health.
John Rogers, lead author of a study reporting development of the new skin patch, says sweat is “a rich, chemical broth containing a number of important chemical compounds with physiological health information.”
The new skin patch may help people find out if they should be drinking more water or if they need to replenish their electrolyte levels. When tested on cyclists, the device was found to give an accurate measurement of the acidity of sweat and concentrations of glucose, chloride, and lactate.
Results sent to smartphone
The thin, disposable patches are worn on the forearm or back. Those who wear the device can see how their body is responding to exercise by accessing the results of the analysis on their smartphone.
But the wearable can do more than nudge users to hydrate. In addition to measuring a person's sweat rate and total sweat loss, the patch can detect the presence of a biomarker for cystic fibrosis. In the future, researchers say it could even be used as a tool for disease diagnosis.
"The intimate skin interface created by this wearable, skin-like ... system enables new measurement capabilities not possible with the kinds of absorbent pads and sponges currently used in sweat collection," Rogers said in a release.
Findings from the test of the device on two groups of cyclists were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.