Everyone gets a bit sweaty from time to time, but when perspiration is excessive and frequent it can become embarrassing and uncomfortable. Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, is not serious but it can negatively affect your quality of life. Read our article below for the symptoms, causes, and treatments for excessive sweating.
It’s normal to sweat if you are hot or doing exercise but your sweating may be excessive if you’re sweating when your body doesn’t need to cool down.
What causes excess sweating?
Hyperhidrosis occurs when the nerves that control sweating don't function normally and comes in two forms: focal hyperhidrosis, where only certain parts of the body are affected, such as the armpits, hands, feet or face, and generalised hyperhidrosis, where the entire body is affected.
The condition can also be either: primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis, where there is no apparent cause, or secondary hyperhidrosis, where the sweating is the result of an underlying health condition such as an overactive thyroid gland.
Excessive sweating can also result as a side-effect from some medications such as beta blockers or antidepressants.
How can it be treated?
Your GP can arrange a blood or urine test to check if there are any underlying medical conditions causing the problem.
If an illness or medication is to blame, the sweating will usually stop once the condition has cleared or the medication changed. But if the sweating is unexplained and regular antiperspirants have failed, a more powerful antiperspirant such as aluminium chloride may get prescribed. This works by plugging up the sweat glands.
If the problem persists a dermatologist (skin doctor) may offer specialist treatments including: Botox - used to block the signals from the brain to the sweat glands, endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) a surgical procedure to remove the nerves that control the sweat glands, and Iontophoresis which uses an electric current to block sweat glands. Iontophoresis kits for home use are also available.
Alternative remedies & self-help:
- Avoid triggers that make you sweat such as spicy food or alcohol.
- Use antiperspirant spray (rather than deodorants).
- Buy armpit shields - these absorb excess sweat and protect your clothes.
- Avoid tight, restrictive clothing and manmade fibres, such as nylon.
- Wear socks that absorb moisture such as sports socks or those made with natural fibres.
- Buy shoes that are leather, canvas or mesh rather than synthetic.