Excessive Sweating: Treatment Tips
Heavy sweating (also known as hyperhidrosis) is a very real and embarrassing problem, but there are some effective ways to treat it. Before you hide under bulky sweaters or move to a chillier climate, you can try these proven techniques for combating excessive sweating.
First Step for Treating Heavy Sweating: Antiperspirants
The easiest way to tackle excessive sweating is with an antiperspirant, which most people already use on a daily basis. Antiperspirants contain aluminum salts. When you roll them onto your skin, antiperspirants form a plug that blocks perspiration.
You can buy an antiperspirant over the counter at your local supermarket or drug store, or your doctor can prescribe one for you. Over-the-counter antiperspirants may be less irritating than prescription antiperspirants. Start with an over-the-counter brand, and if that doesn't work, see your dermatologist for a prescription.
Many antiperspirants are sold coupled with a deodorant, which won't stop you from sweating but will control the odor from your sweat.
Antiperspirants aren't only for your underarms. You can also apply them to other areas where you sweat, like your face, hands, and feet.
Don't just roll or spray on your antiperspirant/deodorant in the morning and forget about it. Also apply it at night before you go to bed -- it will help keep you drier.
Next Steps: 4 Medical Treatments for Heavy Sweating
If antiperspirants aren't stopping your hands and feet from sweating too much, your doctor may recommend one of these medical treatments:
1. Iontophoresis: During this treatment, you sit with your hands, feet, or both in a shallow tray of water for about 20 to 40 minutes, while a low electrical current travels through the water. No one knows exactly how this treatment works, but experts believe it blocks sweat from getting to your skin's surface. You'll have to repeat this treatment 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.
Although iontophoresis is generally safe, because it uses an electrical current it's not recommended for women who are pregnant and people who have pacemakers or metal implants (including joint replacements), cardiac conditions, or epilepsy.
2. Botulinum toxin: Another treatment option for heavy sweating is injections of botulinum toxin A (Botox), the same medicine used for wrinkles. Since 2004, Botox has been FDA-approved for treating excessive sweating of the underarms, but 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 activate. You may need to have several Botox injections, but the results can last for up to a year.
3. Anticholinergic drugs: When you've tried antiperspirants and treatments like iontophoresis and Botox and they haven't worked, your doctor might recommend a prescription medicine such as anticholinergic drugs. Oral anticholinergic drugs stop the activation of the sweat glands, but they aren't for everyone because they can have side effects such as blurred vision, heart palpitations, and urinary problems.