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Hyperhidrosis and Sweating: When Should You See a Doctor?

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Hyperhidrosis: Seeing a Doctor Can Help continued...

Dermatologists are generally the best doctors for treating excessive sweating that's not controlled by OTC products. They are usually more familiar with hyperhidrosis treatment, especially when sweating is severe. Depending on your insurance, you may need a referral to a dermatologist from your regular doctor.

Some more advanced treatments for hyperhidrosis include:

  • Iontophoresis: This involves soaking the hands or feet in a basin of water through which a mild electric current is passed. It requires frequent treatments, but it's often effective at reducing sweating. 
  • Botulinum toxin type A (Botox): Injections of this anti-wrinkle drug turn off sweat glands of the underarms for months at a time. Botox is more than 90% effective as a hyperhidrosis medication. The injections can be painful, though, sometimes requiring local anesthesia.
  • miraDry system: This device uses electromagentic energy to permanently eliminate underarm sweat glands. It is not approved for use on other areas of the body.

Oral hyperhidrosis medications can also reduce excessive sweating, although side effects frequently limit their use.

In extreme cases, referral to a surgeon is an option. Surgical procedures are available to treat hyperhidrosis and can be quite effective. They often have serious side effects, though, and are considered a last resort.

Hyperhidrosis: When It's Serious

Focal hyperhidrosis isn't medically serious. Other forms of excessive sweating, though, can signal underlying medical problems.

Sweating all over the body at once is called generalized hyperhidrosis. It's frequently caused by diseases affecting the whole body. Infections, hormone problems, cancer, or nerve problems can be responsible. It often occurs during sleep, unlike focal hyperhidrosis, which occurs only when awake.

Anyone with all-over body sweating should see a doctor as soon as possible.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Norman Levine, MD on September 30, 2013
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