What causes excessive sweating and how can it be treated?

Symptom Database

Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, causing individuals to feel self-conscious and anxious in social situations. Understanding the causes of excessive sweating and exploring the available treatment options is crucial for those seeking relief from this condition.

What Causes Excessive Sweating?

Excessive sweating can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Genetics: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to sweating excessively.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and menopause can contribute to excessive perspiration.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, can cause excessive sweating as a side effect.
  • Stress and anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can trigger the body’s sweat glands, leading to excessive perspiration.
  • Heat and humidity: Hot weather or high humidity levels can cause the body to sweat more in an attempt to cool down.

Hyperhidrosis Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for individuals suffering from hyperhidrosis. These treatments aim to reduce excessive sweating and improve the quality of life for those affected. Some of the most common hyperhidrosis treatments include:


Over-the-counter antiperspirants can be an effective first-line treatment for mild to moderate cases of excessive sweating. These antiperspirants contain aluminum salts that help block sweat ducts, reducing perspiration. Applying antiperspirant to clean, dry skin before bed can provide the best results.

Prescription-strength antiperspirants

If over-the-counter antiperspirants do not provide sufficient relief, a dermatologist may prescribe a stronger antiperspirant. These prescription-strength antiperspirants contain higher concentrations of aluminum salts and can be more effective in controlling excessive sweating.


Iontophoresis is a non-invasive treatment that involves passing a mild electrical current through water and the skin’s surface. This treatment is particularly effective for excessive sweating in the hands and feet. Regular sessions of iontophoresis can significantly reduce sweat production.

Botox injections

Botox injections can be used to treat excessive sweating in specific areas of the body, such as the underarms. Botox works by blocking the chemical signals that stimulate sweat glands, reducing perspiration. The effects of Botox injections typically last for several months.

Oral medications

In some cases, oral medications may be prescribed to help reduce excessive sweating. These medications work by blocking the chemical messengers that stimulate sweat glands. However, they may have side effects and are typically used as a last resort when other treatments have failed.

Excessive Sweating Remedies

In addition to medical treatments, there are also several remedies and lifestyle changes that can help manage excessive sweating:

Wear breathable fabrics

Choosing clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton or linen can help improve airflow and reduce sweating. Avoid synthetic materials that trap heat and moisture against the skin.

Use absorbent powders

Applying absorbent powders, such as talcum powder or cornstarch, to areas prone to excessive sweating can help absorb moisture and reduce discomfort.

Avoid triggers

Identify and avoid triggers that worsen excessive sweating, such as spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. These substances can stimulate sweat glands and exacerbate the condition.

Stress management

Practicing stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, can help reduce anxiety and minimize excessive sweating triggered by emotional stress.

Excessive Sweating Solutions

While there may not be a permanent cure for excessive sweating, there are several solutions that can provide long-term relief:

Laser therapy

Laser therapy can be used to destroy sweat glands and reduce their activity. This treatment is typically reserved for severe cases of hyperhidrosis and may require multiple sessions for optimal results.

Surgical options

In extreme cases, surgical interventions such as sweat gland removal or nerve-blocking procedures may be considered. These procedures are typically reserved for individuals who have not responded to other treatments and should be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional.

How to Reduce Excessive Sweating: Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help reduce excessive sweating:

  • Avoid tight clothing that can trap heat and moisture.
  • Keep a sweat diary to identify patterns and triggers.
  • Apply a thin layer of antiperspirant to the palms and soles before bed.
  • Carry a small towel or handkerchief to wipe away sweat throughout the day.
  • Stay hydrated to help regulate body temperature.

Remember, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of excessive sweating and develop an appropriate treatment plan. With the right approach, excessive sweating can be effectively managed, allowing individuals to regain their confidence and enjoy a sweat-free life.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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