Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

How Much Sweating Is Excessive?

By Anna Nguyen
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Starting in fourth grade, Sophia Z. Wastler remembers always pinning her elbows to her side. She never wanted to raise her hand in class to answer a question. Excessive sweating constantly left sweat rings under her arms -- even when it wasn’t hot.

It wasn’t until years later in her early 30s that Wastler mentioned to a doctor that her hands were always sweaty. The doctor then told her about hyperhidrosis, a condition where someone sweats unpredictably and more than needed.

Recommended Related to Skin Problems & Treatments

Tattoos: Are They Safe?

Kate Beschen spent years contemplating a tattoo. So when the 37-year-old Philadelphia-based doula finally went for her ink last year, she thought she had covered all the bases. "I had my son and daughter drawn as superheroes on my upper arm," Beschen says. "I decided this was an image I'd be proud to have for the rest of my life." But there was one angle Beschen didn't anticipate: her daughter's reaction. "My 15-year-old is making comments about wanting a tattoo," she says. "Now I'm not so sure...

Read the Tattoos: Are They Safe? article > >

“There were psychological implications that came from the hyperhidrosis. I didn’t know anyone else that this was happening to. From that point on in fourth grade, I felt that I was trying to do a lot of hiding,” said Wastler, a Virginia Beach, Va., resident who is now 36. “What is this thing that was happening to me that no one else had?”

Wastler, a volunteer with the International Hyperhidrosis Society, hopes more people will learn that there are treatments for excessive sweating and not wait years to see a knowledgeable doctor who can help.

Almost 8 million people in the U.S. are estimated to suffer from hyperhidrosis. Of this group, only about 40% have discussed it with a health care professional.

WebMD spoke with dermatologists to discuss what’s normal when it comes to sweating -- and what to do if you’re sweating too much.

Why We Sweat

Regular sweating controls our body temperature and body water. We always sweat to some degree, but it’s more noticeable in hot environments, during exercising, or in times of physical or psychological stress, says Nowell Solish, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at University of Toronto.

We have 2-4 million sweat glands in our bodies, concentrated on the forehead, face, hands underarms, and feet. They produce sweat that's excreted through skin pores to protect us from overheating. As the sweat evaporates, it cools our skin down, says David Pariser, MD, professor in the department of dermatology at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.

Why Some of Us Sweat Too Much

There are two types of hyperhidrosis: Primary hyperhidrosis, which occurs on its own, and secondary hyperhidrosis, which is caused by medications or other underlying health problems. This article focuses on primary hyperhidrosis.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

chafing
Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
 
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
 
itchy skin
Article
shingles rash on skin
Article
 
woman with skin tag
Quiz
Woman washing face
Video
 
woman washing her hair in sink
Video
close up of womans bare neck
Tools
 
Feet
Slideshow
woman with face cream
Quiz