What can I do About Excessive Sweating?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Excessive sweating is also called hyperhidrosis and it is a difficult problem that is by no means uncommon. Affecting about 3% of the population in the US, there are certainly many sufferers from this condition. Fortunately, there are many things to do about excessive sweating that may help ease the issue.

A strong antiperspirant may help relieve excessive sweating.
A strong antiperspirant may help relieve excessive sweating.

If people are taking only non-medical approaches to treat hyperhidrosis, they could adapt a variety of coping strategies. These include using very strong over the counter antiperspirants, and planning on carrying extra clothing when these don’t work. Wearing a couple of shirts instead of one might hide some perspiration under the arms, and affixing absorbent sweat pads in shirts might also proves useful. It’s fair to point out that what people do about excessive sweating on their own may have failed to work, and additional help from doctors could be required to control the problem.

A prescription-strength antiperspirant may be necessary to control excessive sweating.
A prescription-strength antiperspirant may be necessary to control excessive sweating.

What doctors do about excessive sweating may vary and could be based on the level of the problem. Sometimes people are best served by using prescription antiperspirants that might be applied to any areas that appear to sweat more. These may be worn at night and rinsed off in the morning, with use of a non-prescription antiperspirant during the day.

A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.
A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.

Another thing physicians could do to treat excessive sweating is prescribe medicines. Some oral medications may signal the body to reduce perspiration. Injected medicines like Botox® are another possibility. This can paralyze nerve response in heavy sweating areas and result in little to no perspiration. Both oral meds and injection treatments often require ongoing care. People might either take oral medications daily or could need to repeat Botox® injections every six months or so.

Prescriptions may be required to treat excessive underarm sweating.
Prescriptions may be required to treat excessive underarm sweating.

A different option, increasingly being discarded as a good choice, is iontophoresis. This involves giving electric shocks to key sweat glands every few weeks to dull perspiration impulses. There are several reasons many doctors and people with hyperhidrosis don’t think this is the best thing to do about excessive sweating. This method is time consuming and mildly to very uncomfortable, and there is definite suggestion that it isn’t that effective.

The body cools when sweat evaporates.
The body cools when sweat evaporates.

Occasionally the treatment options suggested above are not the best thing to do about excessive sweating and fail to work. Resilient and strong hyperhidrosis might also be addressed through surgeries that change nerve impulses so they result in little to no perspiration. Though often a last resort, surgery could be effective.

Extreme perspiration can be caused by a magnesium deficiency.
Extreme perspiration can be caused by a magnesium deficiency.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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