Excessive Sweating

Help stop excessive sweating from sweat glands on your hands, underarms and head

Select a Topic

  1. What is Excessive Sweating?
  2. What Causes Excessive Sweating?
  3. Diagnosing Excessive Sweating
  4. Help for Excessive Sweating
  5. More Information on Excessive Sweating

What is Excessive Sweating?

Sweating is a normal reaction to a variety of factors such as stress, heat and physical activity. Sweat serves the important function of regulating body temperature.

For some people, the body fails to regulate sweat production properly. Excessive sweating, known as the medical condition hyperhidrosis, occurs when the body perspires more than is needed. The sweat glands don’t shut off, even when the surrounding temperature and activity level doesn’t call for sweating.

Hyperhidrosis affects an estimated 1-2% of the population around the world. The actual number could be higher, since many people who suffer from it may not realize they have a treatable medical condition.

Excessive sweating is frustrating and inconvenient, and can cause embarrassment, stress and anxiety. In some cases, the condition may result in body odor. Underarm sweat can soak through clothes, causing visible sweat stains. Hands can feel so sweaty that opening a door or using handheld technology becomes difficult. Social isolation and withdrawal from others can occur.

What Causes Excessive Sweating?

Millions of sweat glands are highly concentrated in certain parts of the body: the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, the upper lip and the groin area. The hypothalamus regulates and controls sweat glands. When stimulated by hormones, these glands release perspiration, which evaporates and helps cool the body temperature.

When something disturbs the body’s communication process, the result is hyperhidrosis. There are two types of hyperhidrosis, primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.

Primary hyperhidrosis

Primary hyperhidrosis usually begins in childhood. It affects girls more than boys and worsens at puberty. This type of hyperhidrosis occurs when the communication between the nervous system and sweat glands becomes disrupted. Primary hyperhidrosis is often inherited.

Secondary hyperhidrosis

Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by another condition. In these cases, the perspiration is usually general, rather than localized to a specific area of the body. Conditions that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis include:

  • Infection
  • Chronic illness
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Hormonal problems
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Thyrotoxicosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Menopause
  • Alcoholism
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Gout
  • Medications
  • Adrenal gland disorders
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer (especially with night sweats)

Diagnosing Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating is usually diagnosed based on an examination and self-reporting of the symptoms. Paper tests and starch iodine tests can be used to measure the amount of sweating and to determine the problem areas. Your doctor may want to run additional tests to see if an underlying condition is causing you to sweat too much.

Help for Excessive Sweating

This doesn’t need to be a condition that disrupts your life. Conventional treatments to reduce sweating depend on the severity of the condition. The simplest treatment option is to use an effective antiperspirant rather than just a standard deodorant.

Your doctor may prescribe anticholinergic drugs. These drugs reduce sweating by drying bodily secretions. They tend to have unwanted side-effects, such as dry mouth, blurry vision, dizziness and cardiovascular concerns.

Other treatments for excessive sweating include:

  • botox injections (botulism toxin)
  • surgery
  • iontophoresis, which involves using electric currents to reduce perspiration for a couple of weeks.

More Information on Excessive Sweating

Tips for coping with excessive sweating:

  • Wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing that allows your skin to breathe. Cotton and linen are ideal. Avoid synthetic fabrics and silks as much as possible.
  • Wear light-colored clothing that will not absorb the heat.
  • Keep your body clean to prevent body odor. This may mean showering more times per day than average. Use hot water and soap.
  • Keep a handkerchief close by if facial sweating or sweaty hands are a problem.
  • Use antiperspirants, deodorants and powder regularly.
  • Shave or wax under arms, since the hair creates a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes body odor.
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and replace lost fluids due to sweat.
  • Walk barefoot or with open shoes when possible. This helps cool the entire body and prevents sweaty feet.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced die with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid spicy foods and strong-smelling foods such as garlic, onions and hot peppers.
  • Try natural remedies to reduce sweating, such as Sweat-Less™ for Excessive Perspiration
 
References:
  1. “Hyperhidrosis.” American Academy of Dermatology Association. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/dry-sweaty-skin/hyperhidrosis
  2.  “Signs Excessive Sweating is Serious vs. Situational.” International Hyperhidrosis Society. Accessed October 1, 2019 https://www.sweathelp.org/sweat-help-home/press-releases/392-signs-excessive-sweating-is-serious-vs-situational-debunking-myths-surrounding-women-and-sweating.html
  3. “Excessive Sweating.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/excessive-sweating
  4. “Hyperhidrosis Disorder.” Healthline. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/hyperhidrosis
  5. “Excessive Sweating.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/excessive-sweating/basics/definition/sym-20050780
  6. “Causes of Excessive Sweating.” WebMD. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hyperhidrosis-causes-11#1