Excessive sweating is a common issue that is not-so-commonly discussed. Society has often deemed it unacceptable, especially for women, but the truth is this naturally occurring issue is nothing to be ashamed about.
If you’ve ever thought about seeking treatment for excessive sweating, it’s first and foremost important to understand that you have options. To find out exactly what those options are—along with what might be behind your excessive sweating—we reached out to board-certified dermatologists Brandan Camp, MD, and Rebecca Marcus, MD, and medical esthetician Joie Tavernise. Read on for what they had to say.
Causes of Excessive Sweating
Before tackling the remedies for excessive sweating, however, it’s first important to identify the causes. There are two main sources of sweating, Camp explains—primary hyperhidrosis, or a natural cause, and secondary hyperhidrosis, when an outside factor may lead to this issue.
“Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating,” Camp says. “Sometimes hyperhidrosis affects only one part of the body, like the underarms. Some people may have more generalized hyperhidrosis affecting multiple areas, like the underarms, hands, and feet. Increased sweating that is not caused by an underlying medical condition is called primary hyperhidrosis. Secondary hyperhidrosis implies that it is related to something else, like a medication, thyroid disorder, adrenal condition, diabetes, or nervous system disorder.”
So when exactly is it time to seek help? When it starts impacting your quality of everyday life, according to Camp. “Some patients come in because they are afraid to shake hands with someone because their hands are so wet. Sometimes it is because holding a pen or pencil becomes a challenge because the moisture in one’s palm makes it difficult to hold in place.”
Marcus emphasizes that it’s far more common than people realize and that often their reason for not seeking help is due to feeling embarrassed or ashamed. “We want to help,” she reiterates.
Ahead, experts break down how you can treat excessive sweating.
It will come as no surprise that the most common option to combat sweat is an antiperspirant. “As the name implies, antiperspirants can help to reduce the amount of sweating in the underarms,” Tavernise shares.
You’ll often find this in the form of a deodorant stick. “The active ingredient in most antiperspirants is aluminum chloride, which limits the secretion of sweat from sweat glands in the underarm area,” shares Camp. “Antiperspirants are available over-the-counter and in prescription-strength formulas.”
You read that correctly—you can use injections to treat excessive sweating. “Botox can be injected into areas of hyperhidrosis and helps to prevent the sweat gland from producing too much sweat,” says Marcus. “The effects can last up to six months. This is a great treatment for those who want the convenience of less frequent treatments.”
Neurotoxin injections other than Botox, such as Dysport, can also be used successfully to limit sweat production, Camp shares. These injections can be done on the scalp, underarms, palms, and soles. They typically last around three to four months.
If you are opting for prescription-level treatment, there are multiple options. This includes prescription wipes, which are typically formulated to reduce sweating in the underarm area and are applied every night before sleep, Camp notes.
Other options include Drysol, Qbrexa, and Robinol. “Drysol is a liquid solution that is applied topically to the area of excessive sweating,” Marcus shares. “It is essentially a very strong antiperspirant and helps by blocking the sweat glands and impeding the release of sweat. Qbrexa is a prescription treatment that is applied topically to areas of sweating. It works by blocking receptors that are responsible for sweat gland activation. It is usually the next step if someone has failed Drysol and extra strength antiperspirants. Robinol is a pill that helps by decreasing secretions overall. Potential side effects include dry mouth and headaches.”
“Radiofrequency microneedling can also be used as an in-office treatment to ablate the eccrine glands in the axilla for a more durable reduction in sweating,” shares Camp. In more simple terms, it’s essentially used for the destruction of sweat glands. This treatment is typically painless and generally has little-to-no downtime post-treatment.
“miraDry is an energy device that uses microwave energy to permanently damage the sweat glands and reduce or even nearly eliminate sweating,” explains Marcus. “This is for people who have failed all other treatments and are looking for a permanent solution.”
miraDry must be administered by a licensed healthcare practitioner and is currently the only non-surgical FDA-cleared procedure to treat excessive sweat.