Treating Hyperhidrosis: How To End Excessive Sweating

Written by Kyle Coleman, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on July 1, 2014 10 Comments

hyperhidrosis treatments

Hyperhidrosis, excess sweating of the hands, feet, underarms, or other body areas, is a condition that affects about 10-15 million Americans. Many people with this condition experience social embarrassment that can affect their quality of life. Excessive sweat can stain clothes, cause disturbing odor and strain social/business interactions.

What is Hyperhidrosis?

Sweating is a normal part of the body’s natural cooling process. However, hyperhidrosis causes unnecessary perspiration at times when sweating is not needed for temperature regulation. People with hyperhidrosis can sweat excessively in air-conditioned rooms especially in reaction to stressful situations.

Hyperhidrosis can occur all over the body, or it can occur in specific parts of the body. The most common areas for hyperhidrosis include the armpits, hands, feet, and groin area, as these areas naturally have a high concentration of sweat glands.

Oftentimes excessive sweating significantly lowers an individual’s quality of life. Hyperhidrosis can affect a person’s emotional health while also dampening social interactions.

What Causes Hyperhidrosis?

The exact cause of hyperhidrosis is unknown, and most people with hyperhidrosis are healthy. It is believed to stem from issues with the body’s neurologic, metabolic, or sympathetic nervous system.   Some hyperhidrosis can be transient as is the case with teenagers in puberty or perimenopausal women.

Heat and emotions (specifically nervousness or anxiety) can trigger hyperhidrosis in some; however, other individuals excessively sweat regardless of the temperature or their emotional mood. It is also believed that other environmental issues like the consumption of certain foods, drinks, nicotine, and caffeine can trigger hyperhidrosis; however, this varies from individual to individual, making a broad categorization of triggers very difficult.

Hyperhidrosis Treatment Options

Patients no longer need to live life experiencing the negative effects of hyperhidrosis. Today there are several options available for the treatment of hyperhidrosis.

  • Clinical Strength Deodorants: As a first line of treatment, patients often try one of several clinical strength deodorants.  These do not address the root of the problem, but may be sufficient for some individuals with mild conditions.
  • Topical Aluminum Chloride:  Prescription topical aluminum chloride solutions are available for the treatment of hyperhidrosis of the hands, feet, or underarms.   These solutions need to be applied nightly in order to improve sweating.  However, sweating returns within a few days once applications are discontinued.
  • Oral Therapy:  Prescription medications are available to treat hyperhidrosis.   These medications work by decreasing the ability of the body to produce sweat systemically.  These medications can be effective in patients with larger areas of sweating; however, because they act systemically, there are some potential side effects such as: dry eyes, dry mouth, headaches, and digestive and urinary problems.
  • Botox Injections: Botulinum toxin Type A (Botox) can be used to temporarily block signals between nerve endings and sweat glands in the skin, preventing the nerves from communicating to the sweat glands to produce sweat. Effects of Botox to treat hyperhidrosis can last up to 6 months.  Botox injections can be used to treat hyperhidrosis of the hands, feet, and underarms.
  • miraDry Laser: miraDry is a non-invasive treatment that is FDA approved for the treatment of excessive underarm sweating (axillary hyperhidrosis). The miraDry laser uses microwave energy to create heat to destroy sweat glands under the arm, so the effects are long-lasting.  The treatment is done using local anesthesia only.   Two treatments spaced 3 months apart are recommended to achieve long-lasting reduction in sweating.  Currently, this treatment is only available for use in the underarms.

Kyle Coleman, MD

Dr. Coleman is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology. Currently, he is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), the Dermatology Foundation, the Texas Medical Association, and the Travis County Medical Society. Dr. Coleman was voted “Best Dermatologist” by the readers of The Highlander in Marble Falls for two years in a row (2010 and 2011). He was also selected as one of the “Texas Rising Stars” in Texas Monthly magazine in July 2013 in the category of Dermatology.

10 Responses to “Treating Hyperhidrosis: How To End Excessive Sweating”

  1. Avatar Darryl F. says:

    WOW what a great post, thanks for sharing this. I’m going to link to this hub from my blog.

  2. Avatar Ralph says:

    Thank you for this article, I have underarm sweat issues which has always been a source of shame. Looking into solutions so this really helped

  3. Avatar calvin says:

    Just had my first miradry session done a week ago and already feel the difference. definitely less underarm sweat!

  4. Avatar Carlos says:

    I was wondering what is considered to be excessive sweating? Versus regular sweating?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Carlos, great question! Many physicians will consider sweating to be “excessive” if their patients sweat during times of non-activity or during comfortable temperatures. If you feel that you have an issue with excessive sweating we would encourage you to see a physician. They will be able to diagnose hyperhidrosis and recommend a treatment like MiraDry.

  5. Avatar Kerry says:

    i have noticed over the years that heat seems to affect me a lot more than the average person. I will be sitting there with sweat pouring off me while everyone else is fine and not even sweating! But my question is that if sweating is how our bodies cool down, would reducing the amount of sweating I have make it harder to cool down? Also how would I know if I had heat intolerance vs excessive sweating? And if it is heat intolerance, is there any treatment for that? Thanks in advance for help with these questions I have. I have learned a lot from the blog posts on your site, thanks for making this information available!

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Kerry, Thanks for reading our post and submitting your excellent questions! The body’s natural cooling functions will not be negatively affected by the above treatments as they have been approved to address the over-production of sweat from the glands.

      Also in terms of heat intolerance vs excessive sweating, that is definitely a reason why we advise all readers to get an in-person consultation with a board-certified provider prior to starting any treatments. A skilled professional will be able to make the proper diagnosis and craft a safe and effective treatment plan.

      If you are in the Austin area, please feel free to give us a call to setup a consultation!

      Thanks again,
      WD Staff

  6. Avatar Luke says:

    I didn’t know that topical aluminum chloride, strong deodorants, oral medications, and botox injections are some treatments that a patient with hyperhidrosis can try. I’ve been suffering with excessive sweating for a few years now. will try

  7. Avatar Mark says:

    Can you provide any guidance on what is considered to be excessive sweating?

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