Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating is a sweating disorder that affects an estimated 4.8% of the worldwide population. Hyperhidrosis is characterized by extreme and uncontrollable sweating of the underarms, hands, face, head or feet. This embarrassing sweat can lead to awkward social situations, depression, and frustration.
Sadly, there’s no silver bullet that will “cure hyperhidrosis” but there are many effective treatments for excessive sweating.
In this article, we’ll explore various treatments for hyperhidrosis. With any luck, we’ll help you find the best hyperhidrosis treatment for you.
There are many treatments that have proven effective in reducing the effects of hyperhidrosis, including antiperspirants, medications, and other advanced procedures. Let’s take a look at a few.
- Prescription Strength and Clinical Strength Antiperspirants
- Botox for Hyperhidrosis
- Oral Hyperhidrosis Medications
Clinical Strength Antiperspirant for Hyperhidrosis
Antiperspirants come in varying types, potency, application methods, and effectiveness. The most common are those found at your local grocery store. Depending on how much you sweat and what parts of the body are affected, you’ll need to find an antiperspirant that works for you. A stronger antiperspirant, like clinical strength or prescription strength, will usually yield a better result when treating hyperhidrosis.
How does Antiperspirant help treat excessive sweating?
Antiperspirants come in varying types, potency, application methods and effectiveness. The most common are those found at your local grocery store. Depending on how much you sweat and what parts of the body are affected, you’ll need to find an antiperspirant that works for you. A stronger antiperspirant, sometimes clinical strength, will usually yield a better result.
In general, antiperspirants should be applied at night so they have the opportunity to work while you sleep – and while your sweat glands are typically less active.
According to experts at sweathelp.org, “Antiperspirants are applied to the top of the skin (which is why you sometimes hear them called “topical” treatments). Once an antiperspirant is applied to the skin, perspiration in the underarm grabs and dissolves the antiperspirant particles, pulling them into the pores and forming superficial plugs that are just below the surface of the skin. When your body senses that the sweat duct is plugged, a feedback mechanism stops the flow.”
Many people ask us “what’s the best deodorant for hyperhidrosis?”
The answer might surprise you… there isn’t one. Deodorants don’t stop or reduce sweat. Deodorant eliminates odor-causing bacteria and masks body odor. Antiperspirant is the real secret to stopping sweat. While there are antiperspirant deodorant combos out there, they typically fall short in treating hyperhidrosis.
Read more about the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant here.
What is the best antiperspirant for hyperhidrosis?
While todays modern advancements give us access to a wide variety of antiperspirant products, not all will prove effective in curing your hyperhidrosis woes. Each person has different body chemistry and one antiperspirant that works for person A, may not work at all for person B.
Finding the best antiperspirant may take some trial and error. We talk to lots of people who go through just about every option before finding that solution that works for them.
Things to look for when choosing a hyperhidrosis antiperspirant:
- It’s got to be STRONG. Look for antiperspirants using words like “clinical strength” or “prescription strength”. Look for antiperspirants that use a strong active ingredient like aluminum chloride (14% or more).
- It’s got to have a PROVEN track record. Stick with antiperspirants that have thousands of customer reviews and overwhelming positive feedback. It’s too easy to fake a great product these days.
- It’s got to be SAFE. Slapping “clinical strength antiperspirant” on a product doesn’t make it safe… or effective. Look for doctor recommended, FDA approved products. Look for products backed by REAL companies with REAL support teams that you can actually talk to.
An Antiperspirant Recommendation from Trusted Medical Expert Dr. Keri Peterson
Dr. Keri Peterson, a prominent New York doctor, Women’s Health Magazine contributor, and trusted medical expert for ABC, NBC, FOX, The Rachael Ray Show, and many other news/talk shows explains excessive sweating and recommends an effective hyperhidrosis treatment.
“Many of my patients come to me with concerns about excessive sweating. They want to know what causes it and how to treat hyperhidrosis…
Sweating is our bodies natural cooling process when we get hot and it’s controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.
Now, this system in some people gets over active and that causes excessive sweating. Also known as hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis can be very debilitating for some people because it causes a lot of social anxiety and embarrassment.
One thing that I recommend to my patients is to try a clinical strength antiperspirant like Sweatblock.
SweatBlock’s active ingredient is Aluminum Chloride and this is much stronger than some of the standard antiperspirants that you’ll find at your local retailer. SweatBlock can be used by everyone. But, because of its clinical strength effectiveness, it’s particularly useful for people who suffer from excessive sweating.
It’s also unique in that it’s applied with a pre-soaked towelette. You dab it under your arms before you go to bed at night. And this allows the product to work while you and your sweat glands are resting. SweatBlock is a great intermediary step when you find that your standard antiperspirant just isn’t effective enough and you want to try something before you go to the doctor’s office to get a prescription.
Many people may wonder if its medically dangerous to block the sweat from under your arms. The answer is No. We have millions of sweat glands and our underarms represent a very small percentage of them. You’ll be able to cool off just fine by using all of the other sweat glands in your body.”
Pros & Cons of Antiperspirant for Hyperhidrosis:
- Widely accessible
- FDA regulated
- Generally effective
- Easy application
- Some options are messy and chalky.
- Some options may cause garment staining.
- Some can cause skin irritation if used incorrectly or with sensitive skin.
- Not always effective… especially in severe sweating cases./li>
Botox for Hyperhidrosis
If you’re not getting the results you want from a clinical strength antiperspirant, Botox injections may work. Although Botox (Botulinum Toxin) is commonly used for wrinkle treatment, the FDA approved the use of Botox for the treatment of hyperhidrosis in 2004. In fact, many people have seen favorable results since its approval.
If needles don’t scare you, read on…
Botox works by temporarily blocking the secretion of the chemicals responsible for activating sweat glands. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t block the chemical throughout the entire body. The effect is localized to the area where you receive the injections.
If you and your doctor opt for botulinum toxin injections, your skin will first be anesthetized. Each affected area of your body will receive several injections to ensure that all the nerves have been treated.
Botox can provide relief from hyperhidrosis for 6 to 12 months before the treatment wears off. While effective, this treatment is painful and some people experience temporary muscle pain in the treated areas.
Botox treatments for excessive sweating aren’t cheap. The average cost for treating axillary hyperhidrosis (2 armpits) is around $1,500. Fortunately, many insurance companies will help cover the cost of botox.
How does Botox help treat hyperhidrosis?
According to experts at the National Hyperhidrosis Society, “OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) is a natural, purified protein with the ability to temporarily block the secretion of the chemical that is responsible for “turning on” the body’s sweat glands. By blocking, or interrupting, this chemical messenger, botulinum toxin “turns off” sweating at the area where it has been injected. Botox injections are very shallow, meaning that the medicine is injected just below the surface of the skin, where it remains.”
Pros & Cons of Botox for Hyperhidrosis:
- Generally Effective
- Widely Available through Certified Physicians
- Minimally invasive
- Expensive (avg. $1500/treatment)
- Must be repeated to maintain effectiveness (every 6-12 months)
- Did we mention needles?
miraDry for Hyperhidrosis
Like Botox, miraDry should be considered when other sweating treatments fall short. miraDry is a relatively new treatment that was cleared by the FDA in 2011 for the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis or excessive underarm sweating. While not as accessible as Botox from certified physicians, it is generally available in most parts of the US. Studies show up to an 83% reduction in excessive underarm perspiration.
How does the miraDry procedure help treat excess sweating?
The short answer is this: miraDry nukes your sweat glands by microwaving them.
The National Hyperhidrosis Society gives a longer answer: “miraDry uses a non-invasive handheld device to deliver precisely controlled electromagnetic energy beneath the underarm skin to the specific area where sweat glands are located, resulting in thermolysis (decomposition by heat) of the sweat glands. While the sweat glands are being eliminated through electromagnetic technology, the top layers of the skin are simultaneously cooled and protected. Sweat glands are not believed to grow back after treatment so the effect can be seen almost immediately and results are lasting.”
However, MiraDry doesn’t come without its downsides. First of all, it isn’t cheap. Treatment costs are estimated to be around $3,000, and many patients say the process is painful. You may also need more than one treatment to effectively target all your problematic sweat glands. The good news is that the results are permanent. So the pain and upfront costs may be worth it in the long run.
Pros & Cons of miraDry hyperhidrosis treatment:
- FDA Approved
- Lasting Results
- miraDry cost = Expensive (about $3000)
- Painful procedure (more needles)
- Microwaving your sweat glands permanently might be objectional to some
Oral Hyperhidrosis Medication
Can it really be as easy as taking a pill to treat hyperhidrosis? Yes and no. Yes, there are pills that will help you manage excessive sweating. No, these pills are not for everyone and they do come with their own host of unpleasant side effects.
Medication for hyperhidrosis falls into two main categories: anticholinergics and beta blockers.
Beta blockers typically work best for patients who suffer from stress-related profuse sweating; these hyperhidrosis medications block the manifestations of anxiety by acting on the central nervous system. Unfortunately, these medications can cause some unpleasant side effects, including dry mouth, blurred vision, sedation and bladder problems. This class of hyperhidrosis medication includes oxybutynin, glycopyrrolate, benztropine and propantheline. Make sure to talk to your doctor carefully before taking any of these medications; it’s rare that they can be used long-term because of their side effects.
The most common medications used for excessive sweating are known as anticholinergics. Some brand names for these medications are Ditropan, Robinul, and Por-banthine.
If you’ve struggled to find a hyperhidrosis treatment that works for you, or you’re dealing with compensatory sweating issues, you might consider asking your doctor about anticholinergic drugs or other hyperhidrosis medications. Remember, this kind of treatment is considered a last resort and comes with a long list of risk factors.
How Anticholinergic Medications Help Reduce Excessive Sweating:
Anticholinergics drugs block the neurotransmission that triggers sweat production. Basically they block your body’s ability to tell itself to produce sweat. Unfortunately, this stops or reduces sweating throughout your whole body, not just your problem areas. Side effects may include dry mouth, blurred vision, dry eyes, constipation, urinary retention, overheating and more. Because of these side effects, medical practitioners have been cautious about recommending anticholinergic drugs and typically reserve as a later option in the process of treating hyperhidrosis.
Pros & Cons of Oral Hyperhidrosis Medications (Anticholinergics):
- Many Side Effects
- Not FDA approved for hyperhidrosis treatment
- Stops all sweating, not just problem areas
- Potential negative interaction with other drugs
Iontophoresis has been used since at least the 1940s to treat palmoplantar hyperhidrosis. It is non-invasive and uses a small electric current to drive medications through the skin – usually while hands or feet are soaked in a shallow pool of water. Though the procedure itself has been around for some time to treat hands and feet, and recent improvements in technology have helped make it more effective for other body areas as well. Many patients choose this as their preferred hyperhidrosis treatment for hands.
Many patients report success with iontophoresis, and some studies indicate that it can improve up to 91 percent of palmoplantar hyperhidrosis. Typically patients undergo treatment up to three times per week until they achieve desired results – then they can drop back to maintenance mode, which usually requires no more than one treatment per week.
Pros & Cons of Iontophoresis:
- Easy and effective
- Requires multiple treatments
- Takes time to see results
- Mainly for hyperhidrosis of the hands and feet; not armpits
Is there a best treatment for hyperhidrosis?
While hyperhidrosis treatments have come a long way in the past 10-15 years, there’s still no perfect solution. Each treatment comes with its own pros and cons, and what works best for one person may not be the best solution for another.
For some people, a strong antiperspirant like SweatBlock can be the right answer. And it’s a good treatment to try first. Not only because it’s the most affordable and least-invasive treatment, but also because most doctors and insurance companies will want to know that you’ve tried using an effective antiperspirant before moving on to more expensive and invasive procedures.
But it’s good to know there are other options out there. If antiperspirant doesn’t work, you may find favorable results using Botox, miraDry, or Iontophoresis. Your body chemistry, severity of hyperhidrosis and affected areas are all factors in determining what treatment will be best for you.
If you have severe hyperhidrosis symptoms, always consult your doctor to make sure there aren’t more serious medical conditions involved.