Sweating excessively? Here’s what you can do to reduce it

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By Dan Sears

Sweating helps your body regulate temperature, but it’s a function that many people don’t seem to be fond of based on the number of antiperspirants and anti-sweat treatments on the market.

“When someone is experiencing a body temperature rise, the nervous system will automatically trigger a person’s sweat glands to produce sweat to cool the body down,” Dr. Pamela Mehta, a sports medicine and orthopedic doctor from San Jose, California, told Fox News Digital.

“Sweat that is formed from the glands in a person’s skin will appear as a clear and salty liquid,” she continued.

Drinking water can help a person cool down while signaling the body that sweat production should be stopped, but doing so doesn’t always solve the problem, according to Mehta, who’s a medical advisor to The Good Feet Store, a California-based arch support insert company.

If you find that you’re sweating a lot, read on for tips from Mehta and insights from medical boards on how to combat the issue.

Antiperspirants vs. deodorants

Man sweating under armpit in shirt.
Sweating is a bodily function that’s meant to cool the body down when temperatures are high or when someone does a strenuous physical activity, experts say.
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Mehta recommends chronic sweaters use of an antiperspirant over a deodorant because antiperspirants are designed to “block sweat glands, reducing wetness and body odors” while deodorants are designed to “mask odors.”

For maximum sweat protection, consumers should look for an aluminum-based antiperspirant,” says Mehta.

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Aluminum salts are sweat-prevention ingredients that block sweat from forming when dissolved onto the skin’s surface, according to an article published by PennMedicine, the University of Pennsylvania’s major multi-hospital health system, which is headquartered in Philadelphia.

While some are wary about the use of aluminum in commercial antiperspirants, PennMedicine says a link between aluminum salts and cancer (specifically breast cancer) hasn’t been proven. However, people with kidney disease should be careful because their bodies might not be able to filter aluminum fast enough.

Antiperspirants hinder sweat production while deodorants mask odors.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“This is why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires antiperspirant manufacturers to include warnings specifically for people with kidney disease,” according to PennMedicine.

Can clothing help reduce sweat?

Certain types of clothing are better for minimizing sweat than others.

Mehta says anyone who’s on the hunt for clothing that limits sweat production “should prioritize looking for loose, and breathable moisture-wicking fabrics.”

For feet, she says consumers should look for socks that “increase airflow” and “wick away moisture,” so skin on the feet can remain cool and dry, even when a person is doing an activity.

Exhausted construction worker.
Excessive sweating is known as hyperhidrosis.
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Excessive sweating: How to tell if you have it?

Hyperhidrosis is the name of the condition for excessive sweating. 

A person with hyperhidrosis “produces copious amounts of sweat,” according to Mehta.

Mehta says there are three common signs of hyperhidrosis, and they include:

– Visible sweating.

– Experiencing physical problems holding a pen, turning a doorknob, or using a mouse or keyboard.

– The skin staying wet for long periods, and possibly peeling after turning soft and white.

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Woman sweating.
Some medications can contribute to excessive sweating.
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Are there any medications that can cause excessive sweating?

Certain medications can cause excessive sweating and could very well be the culprit if someone suddenly experiences more sweat than usual. 

Mehta says potential sweat-inducing medication include prednisone, a corticosteroid used for rheumatic and allergic conditions; escitalopram, a medication used for treating depression and anxiety; and ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used for treating fever and pain.

Medical intervention: What are some of the anti-sweat treatments available?

Patients can consult their doctor if they think medical intervention is necessary for dealing with sweat.

The options that are currently on the market include anticholinergic drugs, onabotulinumtoxinA toxin injections and hyperhidrosis surgery.

Sweating woman.
There are prescription medications available for treating excessive sweating.

Anticholinergic drugs

“Anticholinergics help block signals from nerves that would otherwise tell sweat glands to produce sweat,” says Mehta. “Thus, they help tackle the problem of too much sweating at the source.”

A few oral anticholinergic medications and prescription anticholinergic cloth wipes include glycopyrrolate, oxybutynin, benztropine and propantheline.

OnabotulinumtoxinA injections

OnabotulinumtoxinA injections, also known as Botox, is an FDA-approved treatment for excessive sweating of the underarms, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHS), a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that serves “millions of people who suffer with excessive uncontrollable sweating.”

Armpit sweat can be “turned off” with OnabotulinumtoxinA, which is a purified protein that can temporarily block the nerve signals that activate sweat glands, according to the IHS.

The IHS notes that researchers have found that OnabotulinumtoxinA injections have been shown to reduce sweat by 82% to 87%, and some have also used the superficial shot off-label to treat sweating of the hands, feet, head, face and small body parts.

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Doctor makes injections of botulinum toxin in the underarm area.
OnabotulinumtoxinA injections are a noninvasive medical treatment for minimizing sweat production.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hyperhidrosis surgery

Hyperhidrosis surgery, which could involve the surgical removal of sweat glands or the snipping of the sweat-causing nerve (the thoracic part of the sympathetic chain), are two invasive treatments that address excessive sweating.

Sweat gland removal can be done to the underarms via excision, liposuction, curettage or laser, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), an Illinois-based nonprofit trade organization that includes over 20,500 dermatologists from the U.S. and Canada.

Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is a “major surgery” that must be done in an operating room, and it’s completed when a camera has been inserted into the chest and the sweat nerve is cut or destroyed, according to the AADA.

Surgical equipment.
Sweat gland removal and endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy are two invasive surgeries for minimizing sweat production.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Both surgeries, like any, carry risks, the AADA warns – including loss of feeling, scarring, nerve damage that affects other body parts, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, compensatory sweating, inability to tolerate heat and potential death.

Patients should consult their primary care physician before pursuing an anti-sweat treatment.

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