Ranging from treatment options to lifestyle hacks, these pointers can help you manage your excessive sweating and keep it under control.
Maybe you put on multiple layers of clothing in light of soaking up sweat. Or you sweat just enough to stain a jacket. Or maybe even you notice your pants are wet because there’s enough to drip down your chest.
A lot of complaints are coming from people who have hyperhidrosis, a condition in which the body’s cooling units are turned up so high that they sweat to max — sometimes up to 5 times more than normal, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS). The condition plaques an estimated 365 million persons worldwide, and types vary depending on where the sweating is happening. Most times, the sweating occurs in underarms, feet, hands, and the face or the head, notes the IHHS.
“People who have hyperhidrosis talk about how it affects their confidence and ability to perform well. They’re always worried about people finding out they have it,” says Dee Anna Glaser, MD, professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University in Missouri, and president of the IHHS.
And that includes hiding it from doctors, too. “Many people are so embarrassed they keep it to themselves instead of seeking medical attention,” says A. Yasmine Kirkorian, MD, assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Children’s National Health System and George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. But the truth is, you really can find help by talking to a board-certified dermatologist with knowledge of excessive sweating. (The IHHS’s website, SweatHelp.org, has a handy physician finder tool).
1. Consider Botox as a Possible Way to Stop Sweating So Much
Don’t just think of injections of Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) as wrinkle fighters for your face — this drug has a whole host of medical uses, and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in people ages 18 and older for treating armpit hyperhidrosis. Per the IHHS, the natural protein in Botox helps disrupt and block the chemical that triggers sweat glands, effectively helping to stop you from sweating in the injected area. The website notes 20 countries or more have approved this treatment for underarm sweating, and the approach may reduce sweating by upwards of 87 percent and for as long as 14 months.
“Botox can be a good option for patients who don’t respond to or can’t tolerate topical or oral sweating medication,” says Kirkorian. The downside is that the injections, which go directly into the armpit and may be needed every three to six months for sustained dryness, can be painful. But your doctor can use topical numbing creams, ice, or vibration to minimize discomfort, she says.
2. Swipe on an Antiperspirant to Help Block Excessive Sweating
“These are a great first step for treating excessive sweating,” says Dr. Kirkorian. Antiperspirants contain physical sweat blockers, like aluminum chloride, which plug up sweat glands, and “extra strength” or “clinical strength” over-the-counter options are effective, she says. Pro tip: Swipe it on at night for the best results, as this is when sweat glands are less active. You may also use it again in the morning with deodorant or on its own. To better lock in its effects, try using a hair dryer on the warm setting and applying heat to the application areas.
3. Try to Change Your Lifestyle, but Have Reasonable Expectations
You can try to pinpoint common triggers (some find that eating spicy food or drinking caffeine may do it) and make appropriate changes. But know that “patients with hyperhidrosis cannot control sweating,” says Kirkorian. That should give you the assurance you need to seek out help and work with a dermatologist to find relief.
4. Go for Dark Clothes Made With Moisture-Wicking Fabrics
If you’re dealing with underarm sweating, opt for sweat-wicking fabrics. (Performance clothing geared toward fitness often features these fabrics.) You’ll want to avoid cotton, and instead opt for fibers such as polyester, nylon, and polypropylene, notes Macy’s. Dark colors will hide perspiration better than lighter ones. And to help minimize foot sweating, breathable shoes are a must, says Glaser.
5. Wipe Away the Perspiration With an FDA-Approved Treatment
If you don’t want to take oral medication, a topical treatment called Qbrexza comes in wipes, and was approved by the FDA in October 2018 for underarm sweating. “The wipes contain glycopyrronium tosylate, which is similar to a medicine that has been used orally for a long time to reduce sweating,” says Kirkorian. She also notes that it’s approved for people ages 9 and older, making it a great option for kids and adolescents.
6. Ask Your Doctor About Medications for Hyperhidrosis
Oral medicines, like anticholinergics, can be used off-label for hyperhidrosis, the IHHS points out. But these do carry risks. For one, adults older than age 65 need to tread with caution, as some research suggests an association between long-term use of these drugs and dementia, according to a study published in March 2015 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Even healthy folks need to consider potential side effects, namely that they may cause constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth, and increased heart rate, previous research has noted.
7. Manage Excessive Sweating With miraDry
Noninvasive and FDA-cleared, miraDry is a device that uses microwave technology to permanently destroy sweat glands, says Dr. Glaser, who was involved in the clinical trials for this approach. “It’s appealing for working professionals or other people who don’t want to worry about applying something or taking medication,” she says. The downside is that it’s not covered by insurance, but it may be cost-effective in the long run. The majority of patients require one treatment, she says.
8. Imagine Other Possible Causes of Hyperhidrosis
If you suffer excessive sweating that started later in life, is all over your body, or involves night sweats where you wake up soaked, talk to your doctor, says Glaser. These may be signs that a medical condition — including heart disease or lung disease, certain cancers, or a hormonal imbalance — may be causing you to sweat too much.