Researchers from Stanford University have developed the first wearable skin sensor that can measure a person’s cortisol levels from their sweat. Cortisol, a hormone that spikes in response to stress, is an important biomarker to help measure everything from emotional stress to metabolism and immune function.

Perspiration contains a plethora of valuable information on the well-being of our bodies. New research is developing sweat-sensing devices that are designed to offer new ways for diabetics to measure glucose levels, help athletes measure metabolic conditions while exercising, and levels of medications in a people’s systems.

Measuring sweat is a noninvasive and continuous monitoring of various biomarkers for a range of physiological conditions. The experimental devices can deliver results in seconds, where previously scientists needed blood samples and hours of analysis.

The challenge with sweat-sensing devices is that they obviously require a person to perspire, which limits their applications significantly. A team at the University of Cincinnati is working on a biosensor that can stimulate sweat glands in a localized area of skin, allowing for sweat without physical exertion. A Stanford team is suggesting future research into adapting a cortisol sensor for saliva for broader clinical uses.

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