Excessive sweating also called hyperhidrosis, is a quite an embarrassing condition, but there are some effective ways to treat it. Before you hide under bulky sweaters or move to a colder climate, you can try these proven methods to stop excessive sweating
Steps for Treating Heavy Sweating
Most people use antiperspirant on daily basis to stop sweat. Most antiperspirants contain aluminum salts which when applied under armpits, antiperspirants form a plug that blocks perspiration.
READ ALSO: Diaphoresis: Causes of Excessive Sweating
Over-the-counter antiperspirants may be less irritating than prescription antiperspirants. So, start with an OTC brand, and if that doesn’t work, ask your doctor about a prescription. Most antiperspirants are sold combined with a deodorant, which may not stop you from sweating, but will help control the odor from your sweat.
Antiperspirants are not strictly for armpits alone, you can equally apply some of them to other areas where you sweat, like your hands and feet. Some may even be applied to the hairline.
Don’t just roll or spray on your antiperspirant/deodorant in the morning and forget about it. Also apply it at night before you retire for the night.
- Medical Treatments for Heavy Sweating
If antiperspirants are unsuccessful in stopping your hands and feet from sweating excessively, your doctor may recommend one of these medical treatments:
- Iontophoresis: During this treatment, you sit with your hands, feet, or both in a shallow tray of water for about 20 to 30 minutes, while a low electrical current travels through the water. Experts believe this treatment blocks sweat from getting to your skin’s surface. You’ll have to repeat this treatment at least a few times a week, but after several times you may stop sweating. Once you learn how to do iontophoresis, you can buy a machine to use at home. Some people only require a couple of treatments a monthly for maintenance.
READ ALSO: Causes of Night Sweats
Since iontophoresis uses an electrical current, it’s not recommended for pregnant women, epileptic patients, and people who have metal implants.
- Botulinum toxin: Another treatment option for heavy sweating is injections of botulinum toxin A (Botox), which is also used in eliminating wrinkles. Botox is FDA-approved for treating excessive sweating of the underarms. Some doctors may also use it on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Botox works by preventing the release of a chemical that signals the sweat glands to start.
- Anticholinergic drugs: Your doctor might recommend a prescription medicine such as anticholinergic drugs. Oral anticholinergic drugs helps to stop the activation of the sweat glands, but they aren’t for everyone because they can have side effects such as heart palpitations, blurred vision and urinary problems.
- Surgery: For those with severe hyperhidrosis who haven’t responded to other treatments, surgery may be recommended. During surgery, the doctor may cut, scrape, or suction out the sweat glands.
Another surgical option is endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS), in which the surgeon makes very small openings and cuts the nerves in your armpit that normally activate the sweat glands. This procedure is very effective, but it’s used only as a last resort on people who have tried every other treatment. ETS is irreversible, and it can leave permanent scars. Side effect is mainly a condition called compensatory sweating, which is when your body stops sweating in one area, but starts sweating in the face or chest to compensate.
READ ALSO: Top 8 Tips for Stopping Armpit Sweat
Steps You Can Take at Home to Control Heavy Sweating
While you’re trying out different antiperspirants, or whatever other treatment your doctor recommends, you can also incorporate some of these at-home solutions to help reduce sweating.
- Don’t wear heavy clothes that will trap sweat. Wear light, breathable fabrics such as cotton and silk. Bring an extra shirt when you know you’ll be exercising or outdoors in the heat.
- Shower or bathe every day using an antibacterial soap to control the bacteria that can dwell in your sweaty skin and cause odors. Dry yourself properly after bathing, before applying antiperspirant.
- Use underarm liners and shoe inserts to absorb sweat so it doesn’t ruin your clothes or give off offensive odor.
- Spicy foods and alcohol can both make you sweat, as can hot drinks like tea and coffee.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Sweating excessively isn’t life-threatening, but it can affect your quality of life. Excessive sweating is defined as any amount of sweating that causes problems or distress. The exact causes aren’t known, but up to 3% of people suffer from hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood. Sweating is worst in the palms, soles, or underarms. When excessive sweating is limited to these areas, it’s called focal hyperhidrosis. Most people with focal hyperhidrosis are otherwise completely healthy. Studies suggest that they are no more nervous or easily upset than people who sweat normally.
At the same time, hyperhidrosis can cause real personal problems such as:
- Avoiding shaking hands
- Missing out on social gatherings due to concern about sweating
- Challenges in love life
- Difficulty writing because the pen slips or sweat soaks through ink on the page
- Changing clothing because of underarm sweat
In fact, about one-third of people with focal hyperhidrosis describe their symptoms as significantly affecting their quality of life.
Hyperhidrosis Treatments Can Help
In spite of the serious negative impact hyperhidrosis has on the lives of those who suffer from it, most never seek treatment.
Generally, people with focal hyperhidrosis have been living with their problem since they were young. After learning to live with excessive sweating, they often don’t recognize their problem is treatable.
That’s too bad, because effective hyperhidrosis treatments are available. Although no treatment is perfect, hyperhidrosis medications and procedures can help many people with the condition.
Some primary care physicians or general practitioners are acquainted with the initial treatment of focal hyperhidrosis, which may include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) antiperspirants: these can be applied to the hands and feet, as well as the armpits. Hyperhidrosis that’s controllable by OTC treatment doesn’t need a doctor’s visit. Antiperspirants can even be used at night before bed.
- Prescription antiperspirants: Most people with hyperhidrosis will sweat through OTC antiperspirants. A doctor can prescribe a higher-strength, aluminum salt-based antiperspirant. This can be effective for mild cases of excessive sweating.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.