When You Sweat Too Much

Experts share tips to help you cope with heavy sweating.

Medically Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on September 27, 2012
4 min read

When the heat is on or emotions are high, sweating can be a problem and a source of embarrassment.

If you think you sweat too much, you can ask your doctor whether your sweating is normal. If it's due to some underlying cause, such as a medical condition or drug side effect, that can be corrected or changed, says Dee Anna Glaser, MD, a dermatology professor at St. Louis University.

Once that's done, there are simple steps to help reduce sweating and boost your comfort level. Here are ways to cope with heavy sweating at the gym, on the job, and everywhere you go.

Here are some tips for stopping your heavy sweating:

Switch to higher-strength deodorants and antiperspirants. Some are prescription only, but you can also get higher strength products over the counter, Glaser says.

Apply deodorants at the best time. "Most of these will work best at night," Glaser says. The active ingredient has to go down into the sweat duct and clog it. If you apply it in the morning, when sweat volume is typically higher, it washes off.

Save your skin. Applying deodorant at night also reduces the chance of skin irritations, Glaser says, and will keep you using it more faithfully.

There are several ways to deal with sweating during exercise:

Dress to thwart sweat. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics, such as cottons, Glaser says.

Splurge on athletic clothes. In recent years, clothing for athletes has improved, with new breathable fabrics, Glaser says. Look for those that wick away moisture. The labels typically feature the fabric characteristics prominently.

Wear it once. Don't put on a t-shirt or bike shorts that are soaked with sweat. You need to start out dry to stay dry. Your skin will thank you, too.

Change footwear often. If sweaty feet are a particular problem, be sure to change your shoes and socks often.

Dust away sweat. Use powders meant for the feet to keep foot moisture and sweat at a minimum.

To cope with sweating on the job, experts recommend these steps:

Tote along deodorant or antiperspirants. Reapply them in the middle of the day or before a stressful meeting, says dermatologist Eric Schweiger, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Dress in layers year-round. For men, wearing an undershirt can help soak up some of the sweat, Schweiger says. Women could wear an absorbent camisole top or dress shields.

Choose clothing in looser weaves. ''The tighter the weaver, the hotter the clothes," says Patricia Farris, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Tulane University in New Orleans and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Instead, choose clothes with a looser weave, such as linens. Silk is a fabric to avoid, she says, because it makes you feel hotter.

Pocket a handkerchief. If you keep one in your pocket or purse, you can wipe off excess sweat quickly before you need to shake hands.

Skip the spicy lunches. Eating certain foods, such as hot peppers, can affect the amount of sweat you produce. Eating other foods, including onions and garlic, can make your sweat smell worse. So no matter how good that hot jalapeno pizza lunch special looks, try to pass.

The right clothes can make a big difference if you tend to sweat a lot.

Become a label reader. Look for clothing labels that say the fabric is the type that wicks away moisture, Glaser says. Or look for clothing with high cotton content.

Pick colors wisely. "'White will show more sweat," Schweiger says. But it won't be as visible on other colors, nor on prints or patterns.

Buy ''breathable" shoes. That will reduce sweat, and it's important especially if your feet are generally sweaty, Glaser says.

Skip hats. Keeping your head cool is as important as keeping your feet cool in the anti-sweat war, Glaser says.

Tote a wardrobe change. If you carry an extra shirt or blouse to work or a social function, or always leave a quick change in your car, you can wipe and wash away sweat when necessary, then change to fresh clothes -- or at least from the waist up.

To curb nighttime sweating, try these tips:

Pick bed linens wisely. Look for breathable, lightweight fabrics for year round, Farris says.

Skip the down comforter, even in winter. Opt for a lighter bedspread, Farris suggests.

Pick sheets that are absorbent. The best fabrics are plain cotton, not silk or flannel, Farris says.