Living with excessive sweating is a problem that is difficult to hide. Wet underarms, stained clothes and a fear of raising your arms in public are enough to induce social anxiety and hinder you from participating in everyday activities. This is what’s making you sweaty, and how to stop it.
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Your Sweat Glands Are Working Overtime
Sweating is healthy and natural. But extreme sweating (primary hyperhidrosis) occurs when your sweat glands are in overdrive. “People with hyperhidrosis have hyperactive sweat glands, so those glands are in the ‘on’ position continuously, resulting in excessive sweating,” says Raleigh, NC, plastic surgeon Cynthia Diehl, MD. “Normally, the body sends signals to sweat in order to cool off. Hyperactive sweat glands are not responding to those normal signals, leading to constant sweating.”
It Could Be an Underlying Issue
Willowbrook, IL, dermatologist Jessie Cheung, MD, says that excessive sweating throughout your whole body (secondary hyperhidrosis) can be caused by an underlying issue. “It can be due to anxiety, inflammatory diseases, diabetes, thyroid problems or certain medications,” she explains. “If hyperhidrosis is caused by an underlying medical reason, treating that particular condition can help to ameliorate the sweating.”
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Use a Strong Antiperspirant
The simplest way to get sweating under control is by using a prescription-strength antiperspirant, which you can apply at bedtime and also throughout the day. “A prescription-strength aluminum chloride solution works by plugging up the sweat glands,” says Dr. Cheung. “Most patients can get away with applying it once every few nights.” An over-the-counter product containing the same high percentage of aluminum salts, like DERMAdoctor Total Nonscents Ultra-Gentle Brightening Antiperspirant ($28), can also be used to form a plug that slows perspiration escaping from the sweat glands.
Examine Your Skin
According to Dr. Diehl, if the chemicals in clinical strength deodorants are too harsh for your skin to tolerate, cutting back on how often you use them can help those with sensitive skin. “Some people spend a lot of time washing and reapplying strong antiperspirants, which although are effective at sealing off sweat glands, can also be irritating. You may need to use them intermittently rather than continuously,” says Dr. Diehl. In the meantime, combat wetness throughout the day with nonirritating deodorant wipes, like Whish Beauty Deodorant Inhibiting Odor Swipes ($22). These convenient cloths are safe to use anywhere on the body.
Try a Permanent Solution
While Botox Cosmetic is a temporary way to curb excessive underarm sweating (results can last for up to six months), Dr. Diehl says other solutions offer a more permanent fix. “Technologies, like miraDry, target the sweat glands, and even though the nerve can still send a signal to sweat, once those glands have been destroyed, they stop producing sweat forever.”
Using a noninvasive handpiece, miraDry delivers electromagnetic energy under the skin to eliminate sweat glands. “Although it is designed to target the sweat glands, the odor glands happen to be at the same level and also get eliminated,” explains Dr. Diehl. “Because the odor gland is connected to the hair follicle, the patient will experience significant hair loss as a result. For women, that is a big advantage because you can tackle sweat, odor and hair in one treatment. If you have hyperhidrosis, you may need a second treatment for optimal effect, but once a sweat gland is destroyed, it’s gone forever.”