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Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)

Conquer excessive sweating with proven solutions

Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, affects about 1-3% of people in the United States. If you find yourself dealing with persistent sweat-related challenges, you're not alone.

Learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for excessive sweating.

Dr. Adrian Rawlinson

Medically reviewed by Dr. Adrian Rawlinson

Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 29 February 2024

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What is excessive sweating?

Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) is a medical condition that causes you to sweat excessively. It is normal to sweat when we feel too hot. Sweating cools down the body and prevents us from overheating. People with this condition sweat when the body does not need cooling.

This excessive sweating can interfere with simple daily activities like opening a door. It can also make people feel extremely anxious and embarrassed and interfere with their quality of life. Because the skin is moist, there is also a higher chance for skin infections to develop.

What causes excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)?

There are two types of hyperhidrosis, each with different causes.

Primary focal hyperhidrosis

The exact cause of primary hyperhidrosis is unknown, however, family history suggests that there is a genetic link. It is thought to be the result of a problem with the sympathetic nervous system and your genes. This type usually begins during childhood or when you are a teenager.

In this condition, the nerves that control sweating become overactive and trigger the sweat glands. Even when there is no heat or physical activity, the body produces a lot of sweat.

If you have primary hyperhidrosis, you may sweat:

  • in one or a few areas of the body. The areas most affected are the armpits (primary axillary hyperhidrosis), hands (palmar hyperhidrosis), feet (plantar hyperhidrosis), and forehead (craniofacial hyperhidrosis);
  • on both sides of the body, for example, both underarms;
  • soon after waking up (however, your sheets will usually be dry);
  • at least once a week, but for many people it occurs much more often.

Secondary hyperhidrosis (generalized hyperhidrosis)

This type of excessive sweating usually occurs all over the body and not always in a specific area. Secondary hyperhidrosis is often caused by a medical condition or side effects of taking medication or supplements.

Medical conditions that may cause excessive sweating include:

  • Diabetes
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Tumors
  • Injury, such as head trauma or spinal cord injuries
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease

Medications that commonly cause excessive sweating as a side effect include Pilocarpine, Nortriptyline, Naproxen, and Desipramine.

If you have this type of hyperhidrosis, you may notice that:

  • Your whole body often sweats excessively
  • You sweat while sleeping
graphic showing areas where hyperhidrosis commonly occurs

What are some symptoms of excessive sweating?

The main symptom is sweating. When you sweat, you may experience moisture on your skin, beads of fluid dripping from your face, or even damp clothing.

Over time, this can cause skin problems like irritation, body odor, or skin infections. Your skin may also appear soft, white, cracked, or may peel.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor may ask you specific questions to understand why you experience excessive sweating. For example:

  • Which parts of the body do you experience sweating and is it on one side, both sides, or your entire body?
  • How long and how often do you experience sweating episodes?
  • How old you were when your symptoms first started?
  • Is your sweating triggered by anxiety, stress, heat, or exercise?
  • Do you sweat when you sleep?
  • Which medications do you take?
  • Do you have any family history of this condition?

Your doctor may perform one of the following tests:

  • Physical exam: This involves looking closely at some of the areas of your body that sweat excessively.
  • Starch-iodine test: Your doctor applies an iodine solution to the sweaty area(s) of your skin. After drying, starch is sprinkled over the iodine solution. The starch-iodine combination turns a dark blue/black color in areas where there is excess sweat.
  • Blood tests: This involves taking a sample of your blood to identify any underlying causes of excessive sweating.

How can I stop excessively sweating?

You can manage your condition by avoiding any triggers where possible. Common triggers include heat, feeling anxious, and certain foods and beverages such as:

  • Caffeine (chocolate, coffee, tea)
  • Hot sauce
  • Spices such as curry or cumin
  • Alcohol

Some other tips to prevent or minimize sweating include:

  • Avoid tight clothing and manmade fabrics
  • Avoid closed footwear such as boots or sports shoes
  • Alternate the pairs of shoes you wear on a daily basis to allow them to dry out fully
  • Slip off your shoes and air out your feet when you can
  • Change socks daily or more often if the socks are wet

What excessive sweating treatments are available?

If heavy sweating is affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor as there are many treatments available to help with this. Treatments usually depend on the type of hyperhidrosis you have and where it occurs on your body.


Doctors usually recommend antiperspirants and deodorants for hyperhidrosis as they are readily accessible and affordable. These are a good option if you experience excessive sweating from your armpits.

When you sweat, the antiperspirant mixes with your sweat and a reaction occurs. It is pulled into your sweat glands and plugs the sweat ducts. This signals your body to stop producing more sweat.

graphic showing how antiperspirants works

Over-the-counter antiperspirants contain a low dose of metal salt, such as aluminum. If these do not work your doctor may recommend a clinical strength antiperspirant containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate, such as Drysol.

Oral medications

Your doctor may prescribe a type of medicine called an anticholinergic to help reduce sweating. These are medicines such as oxybutynin and glycopyrronium bromide. These drugs reduce sweating by blocking the effects of a chemical called acetylcholine, which activates sweat glands in the body.

Medications can be a good option if you sweat in multiple locations but may not be suitable for you if you live, work, or exercise in areas with high temperatures.


For this treatment, you must place the sites of excessive sweating in warm water. A weak electric current is then delivered through the water to the areas of the affected skin. This temporarily stops the function of the sweat glands in these areas.

This treatment is good for areas such as your hands and feet, but may not be the best option for under the arms. You will usually require sessions every 1–4 weeks depending on your response to the treatment. This is because your symptoms might come back after stopping treatment.

Glycopyrronium cloths

These are medicated cloths that contain the active ingredient, Glycopyrronium tosylate. The FDA has approved this treatment option for people 9 years of age or older, who have excessive underarm sweating.

Botulinum toxin injections (such as Botox)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved treatments such as Botox for hyperhidrosis of the underarms. This medicine is delivered by multiple injections to the affected areas. The injections temporarily block the release of a chemical in the body that stimulates the sweat glands.

Most patients notice results a few days after receiving treatment, with the effects lasting between 6-9 months, or sometimes longer.

Electromagnetic energy

In this procedure, the dermatologist uses a machine that emits this energy and destroys the sweat glands in your armpits. You may need a few treatments to destroy these sweat glands.

As this is one of the newer treatment options available, some long-term side effects are unknown.


If other treatments are not effective, surgery is the last resort. Two different types of surgeries are used to prevent sweating:

Surgical removal of sweat glands

Your doctor will numb the area being treated before the surgery. Then the following techniques can be used alone or in combination to remove the sweat glands from the underarms:

  • Excision (cut out sweat glands)
  • Liposuction (remove with suction)
  • Curettage (scrape out)
  • Laser (vaporize)


This is a major surgery performed in an operating theatre. During this procedure, the surgeon will cut or destroy certain nerves that send signals to produce sweat.

Although surgery offers a more permanent solution, it is invasive and can involve many risks and complications.

Can I buy treatment for excessive sweating online?

You can buy Drysol, an effective treatment for excessive sweating online here at SpeedyHealth. To be issued a prescription, you simply need to complete an online doctor consultation. This consultation is free and only takes a few minutes.

Completing a consultation is a requirement as it allows our licensed doctors to assess your medical information and decide which treatment is best for you.

If our doctors determine that this treatment is suitable for you, it will be prescribed and then dispensed at our pharmacy. Your medication will then be conveniently and discreetly delivered to your chosen address.

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