You wake up in the middle of the night drenched from head to toe in sweat. Your pajamas are soaked, and your sheets feel like they just came out of the washing machine. Has this ever happened to you? If so, then you’ve had night sweats. There are a number of reasons why you might be suffering from excessive sweating at night.

Top 16 Causes of Night Sweating

  • 1. Perimenopause and Menopause
  • 2. Diabetic or Nocturnal Hypoglycemia
  • 3. Hormone Disorders
  • 4. Hyperhidrosis
  • 5. Infections
  • 6. Cancer
  • 7. Antidepressants
  • 8. Medication
  • 9. Neurologic Disorders
  • 10. Hyperthyroidism
  • 11. Caffeine
  • 12. Tuberculosis
  • 13. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • 14. Anxiety Disorder
  • 15. Obesity
  • 16. Low Testosterone (Low-T) Levels in Men

Night Sweats : Common Causes

What causes night sweats?

It’s probably not what you think. They’re not brought on because you wore too many layers to bed or piled on too many blankets. They’re not because you have the thermostat turned up too high or slept too close to that romantic fire in the fireplace. Yes, these things can make you sweat during sleep and soak your sheets, but they’re not considered true night sweats.

True night sweats are repeated episodes of excessive sweating that make you feel like a mop in need of wringing out. They’re due to an underlying medical condition or disease. When the conditions that cause the nighttime profuse sweating are treated or overcome, the night sweats and hot flashes stop. Let’s examine the most common causes of night sweats in men and women.

1. Perimenopause and Menopause

The time in life when women begin to transition into middle age is called perimenopause (means “around menopause”) or menopause transition. This is when a woman’s ovaries begin producing less estrogen. It normally happens to women over 40 but can occur earlier. Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, when a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs and they stop having menstrual cycles. Night sweats and hot flashes are among the most common symptoms. Other symptoms include nausea, weight gain, and tenderness of the breasts. Once a woman moves from perimenopause to full-blown menopause, the symptoms can increase in number and severity. The average age for the onset of menopause in the United States is 51.

Night sweats are a common occurrence in menopausal women. This happens because of hormonal changes affecting estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormones affect the body’s temperature control system. When they’re out-of-whack, like during menopause, get ready for the night sweats.

Certain lifestyle practices may help reduce night sweats due to menopause. Avoid these hot flash and night sweating triggers:

  • Smoking– including secondhand smoke
  • Tight or restrictive clothing
  • Too many blankets or sheets on your bed
  • Drinking alcoholic or caffeinated drinks
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Overly warm environments
  • Too much stress

When sleeping, you can try these remedies reduce menopause night sweats:

  • Lower the room’s temperature
  • Turn on a fan
  • Remove blankets or sheets
  • Wear light sleep apparel
  • Try cooling gels, sprays or essential oils
  • Have a few sips of cool water
  • Relax
  • Try plant-based supplements that claim to relieve or reduce night sweats

The only sure-fire cure is to grow a little older and move out of the menopausal stage of life. Not very comforting, but in this case, time is a highly effective cure.

2. Diabetic or Nocturnal Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a common condition among people with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2). It happens when the level of sugar in the blood drops too low to maintain normal body functioning. This is thought to be 70 milligrams or lower per deciliter.

Nocturnal hypoglycemia is when blood sugar levels fall to dangerous levels during sleep. Most common in diabetes sufferers, it can happen when too little food is eaten after the nighttime dose of insulin or if too much insulin is taken before sleeping.

The symptoms of hypoglycemia while sleeping are:

  • Night sweats
  • Restless sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Morning headache
  • Convulsions

While less common, hypoglycemia can also happen in people who don’t have diabetes. Non-diabetic hypoglycemia can occur if your body is unable to stabilize blood sugar levels or if your body produces a little too much insulin after a meal. Night sweating is also a symptom of non-diabetic hypoglycemia.

The treatments for hypoglycemia depend upon the cause. The initial approach for any type of hypoglycemia is eating a fast-acting carbohydrate, sugary food or fruit juice. Foods containing fat or protein are not good choices because they affect the way the body absorbs sugar.

Diabetics regulate glucose levels through doses of insulin and frequent checking of glucose levels. If you’re not diabetic, there may be another underlying cause for your hypoglycemia. Visit with your primary care physician for help in diagnosing another illness that may be responsible for causing hypoglycemic night sweats.

3. Hormone Disorders

Hormonal disorders or imbalances occur whenever there is an overabundance or deficiency of a hormone in the bloodstream. Because of the power of hormones and the essential roles they play in the proper functioning of our bodies, even a small imbalance can cause unpleasant or even dangerous symptoms. A common symptom is night sweats.

Hormones are chemical compounds produced by glands in our endocrine systems. They move throughout the body via the blood to deliver messages and instructions to our organs. They regulate many of the body’s vital functions. These include insulin, steroids, growth hormones, adrenaline, and many more.

Everybody will experience hormonal imbalances. Men and women will have them when going through puberty or growth spurts. Women go through menopause. Men experience testosterone level changes. The causes of hormonal imbalances range from medical disorders to obesity and dietary issues. Allergies and physical injury can also cause hormonal problems.

Effective treatments are dependent upon the cause. Make an appointment with your primary care physician to get started on diagnosing the cause and best treatment for your hormonal imbalance. Your doctor can offer a hormone therapy tailored to your situation.

4. Hyperhidrosis

Night sweats are often caused by hyperhidrosis, a condition characterized by excessive and uncontrollable sweating for no apparent reason. It’s a disorder that affects about 15 million people in the United States. Its cause is not well understood but is thought to be hereditary. While there is no cure, there are a number of effective treatments.

In this instance, when excessive sweating happens in the night, it’s not because you’ve stacked on too many blankets or you’re wearing the latest in thermal underwear. It’s not even because you’re having a bad drug side effect or even an imbalance of hormones. It’s because your sweat glands are being triggered into hyperactivity by your nervous system.

Sufferers of hyperhidrosis not only experience night sweats, but also profuse sweating during the day. Their lives are profoundly affected by excessive sweating in every situation and setting, even while completely rested and relaxed in sleep.

There are dozens of treatments for hyperhidrosis. Some are simple, easy, and inexpensive while others can be invasive, expensive, and painful. One of the best and most frequently used is a prescription strength antiperspirant like SweatBlock. These contain an aluminum chloride ingredient that effectively blocks sweat glands from secreting sweat by forming a gel-like plug. A single application can last up to 7 days. SweatBlock products are proven safe, effective, and life-altering.

5. Infections

Infections are a well-known cause of night sweats. The most common infection linked to night sweats is tuberculosis. HIV infections are also frequently accompanied by night sweats. Other infections associated with night sweats are endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bones) and abscesses. Night sweats caused by an infection are alleviated by treating the underlying infection.

6. Cancer

Cancer is one of the other causes of night sweats. Sweating at night is an early symptom of multiple forms of cancer. The most prevalent type of cancer associated with night sweats is lymphoma. Lymphoma is cancer that begins in the lymphocytes, the immune system cells that fight infections. People who have undiagnosed cancer often exhibit other symptoms, like unexplained weight loss and frequent fever. The treatment for night sweats caused by cancer is the treatment of the cancer itself.

7. Antidepressants

Night sweats can result from taking antidepressants. Studies have shown that up to 22% of men and women taking antidepressants experience night sweats as a side effect. This kind of sweating is called secondary hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating caused by a secondary and unrelated medical problem. Two antidepressants, sertraline and venlafaxine, are notably linked to nights sweats. The good news is that if antidepressants are causing night sweats or other negative side effects, they can be managed and even reversed.

As reported by the International Hyperhidrosis Society, Dr. Jonathan Scarff found that an anticholinergic medicine called benztropine reduced or eliminated antidepressant sweating. If you take an antidepressant and you’re suffering from night sweats, talk to your doctor about finding a therapy that can help you get a good night’s sleep without sweating.

8. Medication

In addition to antidepressants, there are over 100 medications that can cause night sweats. These types of medications include:

  • Analgesics (pain medication)
  • Antimicrobials (antibiotics and antivirals)
  • Asthma Inhalers
  • Cardiovascular (heart and blood pressure) medication
  • Chemotherapeutic (Oncological/cancer) medicine
  • Diabetes medication
  • Endocrine (hormonal) medication
  • Gatrointestinal (stomach and GI track) medicine
  • Head and neck medicine
  • Hematologic/Immunologic/Immunosuppressant medication
  • Neuropsychiatric medication
  • Ophthalmologic (eye) medicine
  • Pulmonary (lung) medication
  • Urologic medication

What can you do if a medication you are taking causes excessive sweating at night? Your options include reducing the dose, finding a substitute drug, or discontinuing the medications altogether. Don’t do any of these things without first consulting your doctor.

While night sweating is a known side effect of many of the medicines in the above categories, most will cause night sweats in a very small percentage of users. Medicines that are most likely to cause night sweats in 50% or more of those taking them are listed below:

  • Zinc supplements (Cold-Eeze, Galzin, Orazinc, Zincate) for the head and neck
  • Desipramine (Norpramin) A neuropsychiatric drug
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor) A neuropsychiatric drug
  • Please note: The above lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.

9. Neurologic Disorders

Another rare cause of night sweats in men and women is a neurological disorder. Some of these disorders are dysreflexia, post-traumatic syringomyelia, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy. If you’re experiencing night sweats and you’ve been diagnosed with one of these disorders, it’s likely to be the cause.

10. Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland is two inches long, shaped roughly like a butterfly, and located in the front area of your neck. It produces hormones that control and regulate the body’s metabolic rate, heart, muscles, digestive functions, development of the brain and bone maintenance. The thyroid even helps regulate cholesterol levels. It’s an essential part of the endocrine system.

If your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, the overproduction of the hormone creates a condition known as hyperthyroidism. An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disorder. Hyperthyroidism most common occurs most commonly in women over 35.

One of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism is excessive sweating, especially at night. An underproduction of thyroid hormones can also cause night sweats. Treatments for hyperthyroidism range from taking radioactive iodine or other antithyroid medicines by mouth to invasive thyroid surgery. Successfully treating the thyroid will stop this cause of night sweats.

11. Caffeine

Here’s some bad news for people, especially women, who drink coffee, tea and/or caffeinated sodas. Caffeinated drinks might be causing those troublesome hot flashes and night sweats. Researchers have discovered a link between caffeine consumption, hot flashes, and night sweats in women.

According to well-known obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Julia Schlam Edelman:

“Coffee is an especially common trigger of night sweats, and it’s a beverage that is more popular than ever. The number of specialty coffee shops is multiplying, and the coffee cups are getting larger — an extra-large Dunkin’ Donuts cup of hot coffee is 24 ounces; a “Venti” at Starbucks is 20 ounces. The more coffee you drink, the longer it takes to eliminate the caffeine from your body. Half the caffeine in a cup of coffee consumed by a healthy, non-pregnant adult is eliminated in six hours. If you drink a large cup of coffee (which may have 200 milligrams of caffeine) at 4:00 p.m., 100 milligrams of caffeine will be eliminated from your body by 10:00 p.m., leaving another 100 milligrams in your body that evening. This will disrupt your normal sleep pattern and promote night sweats.”

If you’re having hot flashes or night sweats and you’re consuming lots of coffee or tea, you’ll probably want to significantly reduce your caffeine habit. It probably doesn’t matter what temperature your caffeine is, so large servings of Coke, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper (among many others) can have the same effect.

12. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs, though it can affect other organs as well. The infection is spread when a person inhales tiny droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. TB can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages, and you could have TB and not know it. An infected person can be afflicted with tuberculosis for weeks before they begin to feel sick or experience symptoms.

In addition to the lungs, TB also affects the lymph nodes. A lymph node (lymph gland) is a small gland about the size and shape of a bean. Lymph nodes are an important component of the body’s immune system. They contain lymphocytes (white blood cells) that enable the body to fight disease and infection. They act as filters, trapping bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing substances before they can infect other regions of the body. Lymph nodes are connected to each other by a network of lymph vessels. Lymph nodes are found in groups and concentrations of lymph nodes are located in the neck, underarms, chest, groin and the abdomen area.

Symptoms of TB, while sometimes difficult to detect, usually include swollen glands and night sweats. Other common tuberculosis symptoms are fatigue, weight loss, and chronic fever. Tuberculosis can be treated with antibiotics, though particularly virulent and drug-resistant strains require prolonged treatment with a cocktail of several medications.

13. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat narrows, restricting breathing while sleeping. During sleep, breathing dangerously stops and starts repeatedly. Many people suffer from sleep apnea without knowing it. Loud snoring is one of the main symptoms. Those who suffer from untreated sleep apnea are three times more likely to have night sweats than others.

Sleep apnea is treated by wearing a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device during sleep. The device sends a gentle current of pressurized air into the throat keeping it open.

14. Anxiety Disorder

Feeling anxious from time to time is something we all experience. We become especially anxious when faced with a difficult problem, taking an exam, preparing for a job interview or even before a first date. Anxiety disorder is something altogether different.

Anxiety disorders are classified as mental illnesses and interfere with everyday living. People with an anxiety disorder live in constant fear, worry and even dread. Just leaving the house can bring on an episode and leave them paralyzed. When your nervous system becomes hyperstimulated because of stress, the body can respond erratically causing dysfunctions like sweating profusely during sleep.

Sweating while sleeping is a predominant symptom of anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Night sweats caused by anxiety can occur infrequently or every night. They can come and go with no real pattern, ranging from slight to severe. You could wake up with just a little sweat on your brow or be completely soaked from head to toe.

Night sweats due to anxiety will stop when the stress stops. If you think you might be suffering from night sweats due to anxiety disorder, make an appointment with your doctor to explore ways to treat your anxiety.

15. Obesity

Obesity by itself can lead to night sweats. BMI (Body Mass Index) is a measure of a person’s weight in relationship to height and measures total body fat in adults. A BMI score of 26 to 27 would be considered overweight and can lead to moderate health risks. It’s estimated that 20% of Americans are classified as overweight.

A BMI score of 30 or higher is considered obese. Night sweats are a common result of obesity. Body fat acts as insulation and will keep heat in. More heat means more hot flashes and night sweats. In women, obesity can increase the severity of menopause symptoms.

The treatment is not complicated nor is it simple. Losing weight will stop hot flashes and night sweats caused by obesity.

16. Low Testosterone (Low-T) Levels in Men

We’ve explored several causes of night sweats and hot flashes in women, now it’s time to talk about night sweats in men. While women go through menopause, the change in estrogen levels can cause night sweats. Men, on the other hand, don’t normally experience dramatic drops in testosterone, but when low testosterone does occur, it can have a similar impact.

Doctors and scientists don’t know why a drop in testosterone levels causes hot flashes and night sweats. There is speculation that the hypothalamus, the region of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature, is the guilty organ. When operating normally, the hypothalamus signals blood vessels to dilate when the body becomes overheated. The increased blood flow causes a man’s face to become flushed. To deal with the elevated temperature, sweat glands are activated. Sweating is, of course, the body’s way of regulating its temperature.

Low-T may somehow cause the hypothalamus to “jump the gun” and cause unwelcome and profuse sweating during sleep by triggering the 2 to 4 million sweat glands in your body. Hormone replacement therapy may provide relief but can also increase the chance of prostate cancer. For men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, hormone replacement therapy is not an option.

Low-T is not the only condition that can cause night sweats in men. If you’re experiencing night sweats, be sure to see your doctor.

Treating Your Night Sweats

Night sweats are not uncommon and affect an estimated 3 percent of the population. Although most cases of night sweating are not caused by life-threatening conditions, you should always talk with a qualified physician to determine the cause. Cancer, tuberculosis and other serious diseases could be the underlying causes.

There are effective treatments that can alleviate or significantly reduce night sweats in men and women. These treatments include oral medication, changing your diet, or using a clinical-strength antiperspirant like SweatBlock. Take advantage of the tried and true remedies so that you don’t have to “sweat it” when you go to sleep.

If you suffer from excessive and uncontrollable sweating, a condition known as hyperhidrosis, you’ve probably investigated various treatments. Stopping the embarrassing and life-altering effects of hyperhidrosis is a daily, never-ending quest. Iontophoresis hyperhidrosis treatments might be the solution for you. If you’ve never heard of iontophoresis therapy, this article will help answer your questions.

Iontophoresis.

Iontophoresis: Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is iontophoresis? Who invented it and when?
  • 2. How does iontophoresis therapy work?
  • 3. Does iontophoresis work for hyperhidrosis?
  • 4. How often should I have treatments?
  • 5. When will iontophoresis start working?
  • 6. What areas of the body can be treated with iontophoresis?
  • 7. Can iontophoresis work on my underarms?
  • 8. What is an iontophoresis patch and how does it work?
  • 9. Does iontophoresis hurt?
  • 10. Can I be electrically shocked by iontophoresis?
  • 11. Is the iontophoresis treatment permanent?
  • 12. Are there side effects from iontophoresis?
  • 13. Who performs iontophoresis?
  • 14. Will my insurance pay for iontophoresis?
  • 15. How much do iontophoresis treatments cost?
  • 16. What is the best iontophoresis machine for me?
  • 17. How much will an iontophoresis machine cost and where can I buy one?
  • 18. What if I’m pregnant? (and other iontophoresis contraindications)
  • 19. What other hyperhidrosis treatments can I try?

1. What is iontophoresis? Who invented it and when?

Iontophoresis is a medical procedure which uses a mild electrical current to gently push medications through the skin while the treated body area is submerged in water. You might think of it as an injection without a needle. The procedure is most often used to treat hyperhidrosis or uncontrolled, profuse sweating. It can also be used to treat injuries related to sports by delivering anti-inflammatory medicines directly through the skin.

The idea of using weak electrical energy to deliver medicine dates back to the mid-18th century. Significant progress was made by several researchers in the 19th century and the concept gained serious traction soon after. In the early 1900’s, Dr. Stéphan Leducafter, a French physician, published a series of scientific papers on the subject. Other contributors to the science were Benjamin Ward Richardson, Hermann Munk, William James Morton, and Fritz Frankenhäuser.

Recently, researchers have given iontophoresis a fancy new name: “electrically-assisted transdermal drug delivery.” This is what too many years of education can do. 😉

2. How does iontophoresis therapy work?

Iontophoresis works on the principle of ions. In this instance, the ions are water-soluble substances that carry either a positive or negative charge. Like the poles of a magnet, the positive electrode repels and the negative electrode attracts. By running a mild galvanic (direct) current through a shallow container of water, an ion can be pushed into the skin if the active electrode has the same charge as the target ion. The principle is the same as when two positive ends of a magnet push away from each other when they are placed together. Because the skin is an excellent barrier and protects the body from outside intrusion, iontophoresis has limited value in delivering medications directly into the skin.

Generally speaking, a patient receiving iontophoresis treatment for hyperhidrosis sits with one or both hands or feet immersed in a shallow pan or tray filled with tap water. Normally anticholinergic medicines are placed in the water that block the transmission of nerve signals to the sweat glands. By stimulating the iontophoresis electrodes, the electrical current “pushes” the medication into the skin. Treatments can last from 15 to 40 minutes.

3. Does iontophoresis work for hyperhidrosis?

The short answer is yes. While iontophoresis has limited usefulness in treating other conditions, it can be effective in treating certain types of primary or focal hyperhidrosis. The procedure is routinely used for the treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating of the hands) and plantar hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating of the feet).

4. How often should I have treatments?

Always consult with your doctor before beginning a regimen of iontophoresis treatments. Usually, the process is repeated 3 times a week in the beginning, and until sweating is reduced to the desired degree. Then patients are switched to a schedule of one treatment each week.

To maintain effectiveness, treatments must be consistent and performed regularly before your sweating begins to return.

5. When will iontophoresis start working?

Patience is a virtue. That may not be a comforting thought as you deal with excessive, unrelenting sweating, but it’s important to keep in mind. How long it takes to see results varies significantly from person to person. Some patients report positive results in the first day of treatment. For others, it may require three to four weeks of consistent treatment before the sweating is significantly reduced. Most patients see a discernable difference by the end of the first week. If it’s going to work for you, that’s the benchmark to keep in mind. Long-term improvement is usually achieved after a few weeks of regular treatments.

6. What areas of the body can be treated with iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis has been used to treat hyperhidrosis since the 1940’s. Most medical studies have focused on the procedure for hyperhidrosis of the feet (plantar) and the hands (palmar). Fewer studies have examined hyperhidrosis of the armpits (axillary).

In one year-long study of 27 patients with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis (affecting the hands and feet), there was a “good” response. Desired improvement took from 2 to 4 weeks. In every successful case, ongoing treatment was necessary to maintain dryness. When used correctly, iontophoresis can have a positive effect on 85% to 90% of hyperhidrosis patients.

7. Can iontophoresis work on my underarms?

The evidence collected so far shows that iontophoresis of the underarms might be an effective option for some people. The International Hyperhidrosis Society notes that iontophoresis is generally less effective than other methods for managing underarm sweating. A clinical strength antiperspirant may be more effective in treating excessive underarm sweating.

8. What is an iontophoresis patch and how does it work?

An iontophoresis patch is an electrodynamic patch made from fabric material mingled with photovoltaic cells. Micro-currents are created by the transdermal patch when it comes in contact with the skin. These currents use the iontophoresis principle to suppress the sweat glands from secreting sweat. Iontophoretic patches can be used on hands and feet, but are especially suited for underarm iontophoresis treatments.

A pouch containing a dosage of medication can be attached to an iontophoresis patch which delivers the medication directly through the skin. Iontophoresis dexamethasone is a cortisone-like medication that is often used in conjunction with this treatment. It can provide relief from inflammation and helps prevent unwanted side effects. Sometimes a Diclofenac gel is applied topically to reduce the inflammation.

The ActivaPatch is a self-contained single-use drug delivery patch that contains an electrical source (a battery), electrode and chamber into which desired medicines can be placed. Once adhered to the skin in the desired location, it can provide up to 2.5 hours of iontophoresis treatment.

9. Does iontophoresis hurt?

No, iontophoresis treatments are not known to cause pain. But at the same time, it’s not what you would call “pleasant” either. When performed correctly, the treatment is rarely painful, though many patients report feeling mildly uncomfortable.

You will likely experience a tingling sensation during the process. Be sure you don’t have any open sores or wounds in the area to be treated. The sensation will be much stronger if the current passes through open skin. You can cover any open skin with petroleum jelly to protect it.

10. Can I be electrically shocked by iontophoresis?

You can’t be seriously electrically shocked, but you may feel surprised by the tingling. The voltage of the electrical current used in iontophoresis is low and not strong enough to cause a harmful shock. But if it’s not done correctly, or if you remove your hands or feet from the water during treatment– or if equipment malfunctions– the sensation might be a trifle unexpected. You may temporarily experience minor heel pain during an improper foot treatment, for example. Be sure to remove any metal jewelry beforehand.

As the electrical current is increased, any unpleasant sensation will increase. But you’ll be in control and you’ll be able to decrease the current if the treatment becomes too uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to have another person present during treatments. If you’re using an iontophoresis machine at home, be sure to completely read the manufacturer’s user guide and follow all suggested instructions and precautions.

11. Is the iontophoresis treatment permanent?

No, iontophoresis for hyperhidrosis is not a permanent solution. After the initial treatment period when the desired level of sweat reduction is achieved, maintenance treatments must be continued indefinitely (usually once a week). It is important not to wait until the excessive sweating returns. Permanent hyperhidrosis treatments require more invasive treatments or surgical options.

12. Are there side effects from iontophoresis?

While iontophoresis is a safe and relatively pain-free treatment, some patients may experience some minor adverse effects. The good news is that any side effects are easily alleviated and generally not serious. The most common side effect is itching and drying of the skin. Apply a moisturizing cream or lotion after each treatment to hydrate and soothe dry skin. Other possible side effects include blistering, skin irritation and peeling.

13. Who performs iontophoresis?

Many primary care or family practice doctors can administer the iontophoresis treatments. Some neurologists, internists, and surgeons will also offer the treatment. Seeking out a dermatologist will probably be your best bet.

After initial treatments performed by a qualified physician, it is not uncommon for patients to continue treatments at home with equipment that can be purchased for personal use.

14. Will my insurance pay for iontophoresis?

That depends on your insurance carrier. Sadly, iontophoresis for hyperhidrosis is a treatment that some insurance carriers consider unproven or investigational. If that’s the case for you, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket. Some physicians will allow you to negotiate the cost of treatment if your insurance will not cover it.

15. How much do iontophoresis treatments cost?

Iontophoresis treatments in a doctor’s office will set you back about $150 to $200 per session. Costs can vary significantly depending on the selected practitioner and location. It’s going to cost you more in Los Angeles than in Fargo, North Dakota.

If you decide to administer the treatments yourself after your initial doctor visits, you can purchase your own equipment. When you consider the cost of several treatments at the doctor’s office, this investment can be a cost-saving alternative.

16. What is the best iontophoresis machine for me?

The best machine for your specific condition depends on a lot of variables. Be aware that the manufacturer of any iontophoresis device is going to claim that their machine is the best. Here are important factors to consider when looking to purchase an iontophoresis machine for home use:

  • Affordability – Find a device that works within your budget. You’ll find many that will work.
  • Machine size – If the machine will be used at home, size may not be an issue. If you travel a lot, you’ll want something you can pack and take with you.
  • Safety – Find a machine that has safety features that eliminate the possibility of electrical shock.
  • Timers – The duration of treatments is critical to potential success. An onboard timer will be helpful in making sure treatments aren’t too short or too long.
  • Power source – Some machines are battery powered only. Replacing those batteries can be expensive.
  • Warranty and Service – Choose a machine that includes a warranty (at least 12 months) and be sure the manufacturer offers a user-friendly customer service program.

17. How much will an iontophoresis machine cost and where can I buy one?

A quality iontophoresis machine with basic features should cost somewhere between $500 – $700. If your budget won’t allow for an investment of several hundred dollars, there are low-cost machines available online starting at about $100. Be cautious of low-priced machines, as safety features and build quality may have not been high on the maker’s priority list. Do your research. There are many choices available online, and they can also be purchased from local medical supply brick-and-mortar stores. Also, if you’re handy, it’s fairly simple and easy to build one of your own.

18. What if I’m pregnant? (and other iontophoresis contraindications)

Always consult a doctor before commencing iontophoresis treatments. There are several conditions and situations for which either extra caution or total avoidance of the treatment are necessary.

  • If you wear a pacemaker – The electrical current used in iontophoresis, although mild, may interfere with a pacemaker.
  • Pregnancy – Iontophoresis has not been tested on pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, iontophoresis treatments are not recommended.
  • Metal orthopedic implants – Because electrical current will pass through the parts of the body being treated, any metal implants in those areas can cause problems. Talk to your physician about the treatment if you have any metal implants in your body.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia – Electrical impulses trigger your heart to beat. If you have an irregular heart condition, you should avoid iontophoresis unless your doctor specifically recommends it and supervises the treatment.
  • Skin rash or disease – Iontophoresis therapy should be avoided if a skin rash or skin disease is present in the affected areas.

19. What other hyperhidrosis treatments can I try?

Iontophoresis is considered a tier 3 treatment. That means there are other treatments for hyperhidrosis that are recommended before resorting to the use of an iontophoresis machine.

One of the most effective treatments for hyperhidrosis is a clinical strength antiperspirant like SweatBlock. It is highly effective for controlling underarm sweating, as well as hand, feet, and head sweating. Clinical strength antiperspirants are not expensive, and they’re easy to use, and they’re readily available online and in local drugstores.

There are other hyperhidrosis treatments that may be worth considering. Many are more expensive and more invasive than iontophoresis. These include Botox injections, and using electromagnetic or microwave energy for killing sweat glands. Irreversible surgery is also an option. Once again, talking with a doctor about your specific situation is the best course of action. He or she can prescribe the treatment that best suits you.

The Bottom Line

Iontophoresis is a widely accepted and proven treatment for sufferers of hyperhidrosis. Whether it’s a good treatment for you will depend on the seriousness of your sweating condition and other symptom relief treatments you may have already tried. Now that you have a better understanding of iontophoresis, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about how best to treat your hyperhidrosis. You do have options, and the good news is that there’s a treatment that will likely work well for you. Don’t give up… life can be good again!

Are you sweating profusely for no apparent reason? Is it the kind of sweating that can’t be explained by exercise or external temperature– or even unusual stress?

The cause of your excessive sweating may be diaphoresis.

In this article we’ll explore the following topics surrounding diaphoresis…

  • What is Diaphoresis?
  • What Causes Diaphoresis?
  • What Medications Can Cause Diaphoresis?
  • How is Diaphoresis Different than Hyperhidrosis?
  • When Should I Get Medical Help or Talk to My Doctor?
  • What are the Treatment Options for Diaphoresis?

Why do we sweat? Sweating is the natural way the body manages and regulates its temperature. When functioning normally, your body perspires when you’re engaged in exertion or physical exercise, exposed to external heat, and even when you’re feeling unusual mental or emotional stress.

When you perspire, your brain signals the millions of sweat glands located all over your body (except ear canals, lips, and genitals) to secret moisture composed mostly of water and electrolytes. Once this sweat reaches the surface of the skin, it evaporates. The evaporation of your sweat dissipates heat which in turn cools the body.

If unusual and excessive sweating occurs for no apparent reason, then something else is going on. It may be primary hyperhidrosis (more about that later) or diaphoresis. It’s important to understand the difference to know exactly what’s happening with your body.

Diaphoresis

What is Diaphoresis?

Diaphoresis is excessive sweating caused by one or more secondary (meaning separate and not related) medical conditions. It can also be a side effect of certain medications. Diaphoresis is not a problem of a malfunctioning nervous system or overactive sweat glands, and treating it successfully usually requires medical attention to discover the specific cause.

Diaphoresis is also known as secondary hyperhidrosis because it is a symptom of a secondary disorder. Once the cause is identified and properly treated, the excessive sweating stops.

What Causes Diaphoresis?

There are dozens of diseases and medical conditions that can cause diaphoresis. Some of the most common causes are:

Menopause

A majority of women (85% or more) experience periods of increased sweating, night sweats, and hot flashes during menopause. As a woman transitions from fertility to infertility, fluctuating hormones send false signals to the brain that the body is overheating. This results in excessive perspiration and night sweats. Once the menopausal change progresses, the bouts of profuse sweating and night sweats usually cease. Some women find relief through hormone therapy for a short time.

Obesity

Obesity can cause diaphoresis in both men and women. Defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, obesity is very common in the United States and affects one-third of all adults. Losing sufficient weight almost always causes the excessive sweating to stop.

Diabetes

For people with diabetes, sweating profusely is an early symptom of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Critically low blood sugar is a result of either too much insulin or too little sugar. This causes the body to lapse into a fight-or-flight state, releasing hormones that increase sweating. Proper management of diabetes significantly reduces the occurrence of diaphoresis.

Parkinson’s Disease

Coping with Parkinson’s disease is very difficult, but when you add excessive sweating to the equation it becomes even worse. Parkinson’s disease affects the autonomic nervous system, causing the body to lose its ability to properly regulate many body functions. Changes in the sweat glands often occur and can cause Parkinson’s sufferers to sweat uncontrollably.

Pregnancy

Increased hormone levels (some may say raging hormones) in a woman’s body during pregnancy can cause heavy perspiration. As a pregnant woman’s metabolism speeds up, her body temperature rises, which can cause abnormal sweating. The extra weight gained during pregnancy may also increase the likelihood of diaphoresis. Fortunately, it’s only a 9-month-long condition, then the sweat glands return to normal.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the body’s joints, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness. A common symptom of this disorder is excessive sweating.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid gland shifts into hyperactivity, producing too much of the hormone thyroxine. The overabundance of thyroxine speeds up the body’s metabolism and causes heavy sweating (among a number of other symptoms).

Heart Attack

A heart attack, aka myocardial infarction, happens when a portion of your heart muscle becomes damaged or dies. Symptoms include heavy sweating, faintness, chest pain, pain in one or both arms, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and a pale or ashen colored face.

Cancer

Diaphoresis is linked to several types of cancer. Among them are lymphoma, leukemia, bone cancer, liver cancer, testicular cancer, as well as carcinoid tumors.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is an intense and acute allergic reaction. One of the first signs of an anaphylaxis reaction is an instant onset of heavy and profuse sweating. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate attention and treatment.

Alcohol and Drug Withdrawal

Profuse sweating often occurs when those addicted to alcohol or drugs go through withdrawal. Going “cold turkey” not only leads to excessive sweating but also includes other reactions that can be temporarily life-threatening.

Gout

Diaphoresis (secondary hyperhidrosis) can also be caused by gout. Gout is a common form of arthritis that develops from high levels of uric acid in the blood. It can strike anyone. In addition to excessive sweating, other symptoms of gout include sudden swelling and joint pain, usually in the big toe.

What Medications Can Cause Diaphoresis?

There are hundreds of medicines that have been known to cause excessive sweating. The most common medicines that can cause diaphoresis include:

Antidepressants

All varieties and classes of antidepressants may cause diaphoresis. Antidepressants increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin affects the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that regulates the body’s core temperature.

Migraine Medication

Medicine for migraines can cause excessive sweating if they contain triptan– such as sumatriptan, rizatriptan, frovatriptan and eletriptan. These substances also increase serotonin levels.

Pain Relievers

Aspirin or ibuprofen are known to cause excessive sweating. The over-the-counter pain medicines reduce a fever by dilating blood vessels, causing heat to be dissipated through the skin. Opioids may also cause heavy sweating.

Diabetes Medication

Insulin, glyburide, glipizide, pioglitazone, and other diabetes medication are known to cause diaphoresis. Heavy sweating can occur as the body adjusts to altered blood sugar levels.

Asthma Inhalers

Certain asthma inhalers which contain beta-agonist drugs may trigger excessive sweating. Albuterol and levalbuterol directly stimulate sweat glands to produce more sweat.

Heartburn Medication

Heartburn and reflux medicines like Prilosec and Prevacid are known to cause sweating as a side effect.

Sildenafil (Viagra)

Viagra, known as sildenafil in its generic form, may also cause diaphoresis. The drug dilates blood vessels to heighten blood flow, which can cause flushing and spontaneous sweating.

Ropinirole

Also known as Requip, this medication is commonly prescribed to treat restless leg syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. It activates dopamine receptors which can lead to profuse sweating.

Breast Cancer Medication

Excessive sweating can be a side effect of certain breast cancer medications, such as anastrozole, exemestane, letrozole, and tamoxifen. These drugs are anti-estrogen compounds designed to prevent breast cancer from recurring.

Leuprolide

Luprolide, known commercially as the brand name Lupron, is a drug prescribed to treat endometriosis and prostate cancer. It lowers hormone levels in both men and women and can lead to heavy sweating and night sweats.

How is Diaphoresis Different than Hyperhidrosis?

There are two types of hyperhidrosis– primary hyperhidrosis (also called focal hyperhidrosis) and secondary hyperhidrosis (sometimes called generalized hyperhidrosis).

Diaphoresis and secondary hyperhidrosis are synonymous they are different medical terms for the same condition. But diaphoresis is different from primary (focal) hyperhidrosis. Let’s explore how diaphoresis is like secondary hyperhidrosis but different from primary hyperhidrosis.

Primary or focal hyperhidrosis is a serious medical disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable sweating not related to heat or exercise. Recent research indicates that it affects about 5% or the world’s population. It can be focused on the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis), the hands or palms (palmar hyperhidrosis), the feet (plantar hyperhidrosis) or the head and face (craniofacial hyperhidrosis).

What causes primary hyperhidrosis is unknown, but it is thought to be hereditary. The nervous system triggers localized sweat glands, known as eccrine glands, into hyperactivity for no apparent reason and without external stimuli such as elevated body temperature and exertion. This extreme perspiration can negatively affect the physical, emotional, mental and social aspects of life. There is no cure. However, there are numerous effective treatments that can reduce or eliminate the excessive sweating due to primary hyperhidrosis.

The cause of secondary hyperhidrosis, or diaphoresis, is something else entirely. While the symptoms of diaphoresis and primary hyperhidrosis are identical– profuse, uncontrollable sweating– diaphoresis is caused by a secondary or underlying cause not related to over-active sweat glands. The possible causes include the disorders and medications identified above as well as dozens of other less common ones. Unlike primary hyperhidrosis, once the underlying disorder is successfully treated, the excessive sweating usually stops.

When Should I Get Medical Help or Talk to My Doctor?

It’s normal to sweat when you work out, become hot, or find yourself in a nervous or anxious situation such as a job interview, important presentation, or on a first date. Nervous sweating is also normal, though darn inconvenient at times. But you should become concerned if you find yourself frequently soaking through your shirts or socks, or trying to hide your perpetually wet, clammy hands. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but thankfully your excessive sweating can be treated. Don’t suffer in silence out of shyness or shame. Start by seeing your primary care doctor. He or she can refer you to a specialist if necessary.

What are the Treatment Options for Diaphoresis?

The best and most effective treatment of diaphoresis is to treat the underlying disease or disorder that is triggering the profuse sweating.

In the meantime, here are some remedies that may help reduce your excessive sweating. When it comes to some of these natural and home remedies, your mileage may vary. The International Hyperhidrosis Society has concluded there is “little research to recommend such natural remedies, but this does not discount their potential.”

Natural Remedies for Treating Diaphoresis

Camphor

Camphor was once made by distilling wood from the camphor tree. Today it is synthesized chemically. It’s used in such products as Vicks VapoRub. Dissolve a small portion of camphor or some camphor oil in some fractionated coconut oil. Apply the mixture to affected areas and leave it on the skin for 40 to 60 minutes. Then wash the area gently with cool, clean water. Camphor can also be added to bath water to help reduce sweating.

Vinegar

When applied directly to your skin, vinegar acts as an astringent that eliminates many bacteria and will also close up pores. Use a cotton ball to dab a little apple cider vinegar on the desired areas overnight. Simply wash it off when you shower or bathe in the morning.

Tomato Juice

A glass of tomato juice or a tomato-rich diet can help control profuse sweating by regulating your internal body temperature.

Green and Black Tea

Green tea contains magnesium and vitamin B. These act as astringents and constrict sweat glands. A cup of green tea in the morning may help reduce sweating. Black tea is also an astringent. Brew one or two black tea bags, allowing the tea to steep for 10 minutes. Apply the tea directly to your underarms with a clean washcloth.

Essential Oils

Those who prefer natural remedies often recommend essential oils as a remedy for excessive sweating. If you want to try essential oils, you should thoroughly study the potential benefits and hazards of each beforehand.

Here are 3 of the most popular essential oils for controlling sweat:

  • Sage oil has long been used to ease the symptoms of menopause.
  • Cistus oil is an astringent that can shrink pores.
  • Clary Sage oil contains linalyl acetate which has calming properties.

Other Effective Remedies

There are several effective remedies for primary hyperhidrosis. However, because of their permanence, expense, or invasiveness, they likely wouldn’t be appropriate for treating diaphoresis. It’s important to remember that curing diaphoresis means identifying and successfully treating the underlying, unrelated disease or disorder that triggers the excessive sweating.

Short of overcoming the disorder that’s responsible for diaphoresis, here are two remedies that can treat the profuse sweating without permanently altering, removing or destroying sweat glands:

Clinical-Strength or Prescription-Strength Antiperspirants

These powerful antiperspirant products, like SweatBlock, are different than the antiperspirants you find on the shelves of your local grocery or drug store. They contain higher concentrations of the aluminum chloride, a compound that temporarily blocks the sweat glands from secreting sweat. When aluminum chloride comes in contact with water (your sweat), it forms a gel-like plug that blocks sweat from reaching the surface of the skin. A single application of a prescription strength antiperspirant may last up to a week before it must be reapplied.

Botox Injections

Botox is a natural, purified protein that can temporarily impede the chemical that “turns on” the body’s sweat glands. It blocks the nerves that cause sweating. Botox injections are shallow and the medicine is injected just below the surface of the skin. The desired effects will last 6 to 12 months before the treatment must be repeated. While effective, this treatment is very expensive and can be painful.

A Final Note

Diaphoresis, by definition, is always caused by another illness or medication. The best treatment is always to identify and appropriately treat the underlying condition. Once that happens, the excessive sweating almost always stops. If treatment for the secondary cause is not possible or requires a prolonged period to take effect, there are treatments and remedies that can help in the meantime. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and available treatment options.

When sweating reaches epic proportions, you need something more than pedestrian store-shelf antiperspirants. You need a heavy weight contender – a prescription, or prescription “strength” antiperspirant. Here’s your guide to prescription-only and clinical strength antiperspirants.

prescription antiperspirant

What is prescription antiperspirant?

As the name implies, prescription antiperspirants require a prescription and a doctor’s supervision. They cannot be purchased anywhere but a pharmacy. The concentration of active aluminum ingredient in these products is generally around 20%. Prescription options are not to be taken lightly. Misuse of prescription antiperspirants can lead to serious unwanted side effects. (we’ll talk about this later)

How does prescription antiperspirant work?

All antiperspirants, regardless of brand name or strength level, use aluminum salt as the active ingredient. The most common aluminum salt compounds found in today’s antiperspirants are aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride hexaydrate and aluminum zirconium tricholorhydrex glycine.

While the effectiveness of these varies, each of these aluminum compounds works to reduce sweating in the same basic way. When they get close to water, in this case perspiration, they soak up the moisture and thicken into a gel-like substance. By spreading aluminum chloride, or one of its cousins, on areas that sweat, the resulting reaction forms a gel-like plug that blocks the sweat glands and prevents sweat from reaching the skin’s surface. Once this happens the body’s feedback mechanism stops the flow of perspiration.

The plugs dissipate over time and the sweat glands begin to function as before. That’s when the antiperspirant must be reapplied. Depending on the strength of the antiperspirant, the reapplication time may range from several hours to several days.

Prescription Antiperspirant vs. Prescription “Strength” Antiperspirant. Is there a difference?

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse the two. But they are different.

Prescription strength simply means really strong. A prescription strength antiperspirant will have more Aluminum salts or use a more potent form of Aluminum. For example, Aluminum Chloride is a lot stronger than Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex (Used in antiperspirants like Dove, Old Spice and Degree.)

Most clinical and prescription strength products will use Aluminum Chloride (usually around 12%-15%)

Prescription Strength and Clinical Strength are often used interchangeably, but they’re pretty much the same thing.

Prescription-only antiperspirants are even stronger, require a prescription, and can only be purchased at a pharmacy. They usually contain a higher concentration of Aluminum Chloride (20% or more) and can be more effective in extreme sweating cases. Last of all, a prescription option will most likely carry with it additional health risks and side effects. (more on this below…)

Prescription Antiperspirant Options:

Some of the more common prescription antiperspirant brands include:

  • Drysol is a popular prescription antiperspirant designed to treat hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating. Can be used on the underarms, scalp, hands, and feet. Active Ingredient: Aluminum chloride hexahydrate (20%)
  • Xerac AC is a topical, prescription-only treatment designed for use on the underarms, palms and feet.
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride Hexahydrate (6.25%)
  • Formalaz is a sweating treatment specifically designed to combat foot odor and sweat. A prescription-only option for plantar hyperhidrosis or foot sweating. Active ingredient: Formaldehyde (10%)

Prescription antiperspirant is strong stuff and should only be considered after exhausting all other over-the-counter hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating treatments.

Best Prescription Strength Antiperspirant Products:

Try some of these popular prescription strength and clinical strength antiperspirants before resorting to prescription-only. Many of these products can be purchased online via Amazon or at your local drug store.

  • SweatBlock Clinical Antiperspirant
    “When nothing else works!” The original 7-day antiperspirant. Formulated to reduce excessive sweating and axillary hyperhidrosis. According to users, SweatBlock keeps you dry for an average of 6.4 days and seems to work when nothing else will.
    Effective for: Armpit sweating and hyperhidrosis
    Application: Towelette (wipe)
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (14%)
  • Driclor
    This another over-the-counter prescription strength option. It’s made in Australia and can be used for treating excessive sweating of the hands, feet and armpits. If you’re worried about sweat stains in your shirt, you’ll want to avoid this one.
    Effective for: Hands, Feet, and Armpit Sweatin
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum hexahydrate (20%)
  • Certain Dri Prescription Strength
    The strongest antiperspirant in the Certain Dri family. Designed for underarm use and can last up to 72 hours per application.
    Effective for: Underarm Sweating / Axillary Hyperhidrosis
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (12%)
  • Odaban Antiperspirant Spray
    Offers 24-hour protection and may be the strongest non prescription antiperspirant available. It contains high concentrations of aluminum chloride which can increase effectiveness. But with increased effectiveness comes increased chance for skin irritation and burning.
    Effective for: Armpits, Hands, Feet
    Application: Spray
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum chloride (20%)
  • Maxim Prescription Strength Antiperspirant
    Over the counter hyperhidrosis treatment designed for underarm use.
    Effective for: Underarm Sweating / Axillary Hyperhidrosis
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (15%)
  • ZeroSweat Antiperspirant AKA “Z Sweat” or “0 Sweat”
    For excessive sweating. This Certain Dri knock-off claims to “Keep You Dry – Guaranteed”.
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (15%)

If none of the above options work for you, it’s time to look at a prescription only product.

Should I Use a Prescription Strength Antiperspirant?

Choosing a prescription antiperspirant isn’t the same as picking out a pair of shoes or doing price comparisons on vacuum cleaners.

This is a personal question and you and your doctor are the only ones qualified to tackle it. But here’s a few things to consider as you venture down the path of prescription hyperhidrosis treatments.

How severe is your sweating? You wouldn’t be here reading this fascinating article if sweat wasn’t somewhat excessive. But how bad is it? If it’s an occasional inconvenience, you probably don’t need prescription strength. If profuse sweating has transformed you into a cave-dwelling hermit who avoids all social interaction, you’re barking up the right tree.

Which sweating treatments have you already tried? Again, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably tried A LOT. But if you’ve only experimented with Old Spice and Degree, you still have a lot of non prescription options on the table. It’s best to exhaust all over-the-counter antiperspirant options before reaching for a prescription solution.

Have you talked to your doctor? Your doctor will be able to help you more than any blog post or article. If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems relieve your excessive sweating, talk to your doctor about available prescription anti-perspirants.

Ultimately, your doctor will know which antiperspirant options are safe and can guide you through the process of finding one that works best for your body chemistry and severity of sweating.

Prescription Antiperspirant Risks & Side Effects:

The best part about prescription anti-perspirants is that they’re super strong. The worst part… they come with side effects and potential health risks like:

  • Allergic reactions like hives, rash, itching, chest tightness, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Severe burning, itching, redness or swelling of treated areas.

These precautions should be observed when using Prescription antiperspirants:

  • Always consult a doctor before using any Prescription antiperspirant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are using Antabuse (disulfiram) before using.
  • Do not use any other deodorant or antiperspirant (unless your doctor says otherwise)
  • Avoid getting Prescription antiperspirant in your eyes, nose, mouth or on your lips.
  • Do not use any antiperspirant on irritated or broken skin.
  • Wait at least 24 to 48 hours when applying to shaved areas.
  • Prescription antiperspirants may stain clothing and metal surfaces.
  • It is not known if the use of Drysol and other Prescription antiperspirants may harm an unborn baby.

Alternative Treatments to Prescription Antiperspirant:

It might be worth exploring outside the realm of prescription antiperspirant. Hyperhidrosis has been around for a long time and many treatments have been developed over the years. Their effectiveness varies, but some have proven very efficient at stopping embarrassing sweat. Here’s a few of them…

  • Clinical Strength Antiperspirants. Over-the-counter clinical antiperspirants are stronger than your average Dove or Speedstick, but don’t require a doctor and don’t come with as many side effects or potential health risks. We like this one (wink… wink)
  • Qbrexza Cloth. A prescription-only treatment for axillary hyperhdirosis. This medicated cloth is designed for underarm topical use. It contains a nerve blocking solution that stops underarm sweat in its tracks. It can be extremely effective, but comes with a long list of unwanted side effects.
  • Iontophoresis is a treatment that uses electric currents in water to drive medications into the skin. Can be very effective, yet very expensive.
  • Botox injections in affected areas can curtail sweating for months before they must be repeated. Effective, but painful and not permanent.
  • Miradry is a procedure that uses microwaves to nuke your sweat glands. No more sweat glands leads to no more sweat.

Do you suffer from chronic, excessive sweating? Hyperhidrosis, the official medical term for profuse sweating, affects millions here in the USA and around the world. Antiperspirants with aluminum chloride are the first line of defense against extreme sweating.

6 Things You Should Know About Aluminum Chloride

  • What is aluminum chloride?
  • How does aluminum chloride stop sweating?
  • Is aluminum chloride safe? False claims debunked
  • What are the side effects of aluminum chloride and how to minimize them?
  • Other forms of aluminum used in antiperspirants
  • Discovery and history of aluminum chloride

aluminum chloride facts

What is aluminum chloride?

(Read on with caution – scientific terms to follow)

The chemical formula for aluminum chloride is AICI3. As its name implies, it is a chemical compound of aluminum and chlorine. For you chemistry buffs, AICI3 has three electrons in its valence shell. It forms a covalent compound with chlorine. It doesn’t form an octet by combining with chlorine, so it can take 2 more electrons. This makes it a Lewis Acid (Lewis acid is a compound that can take an electron from a donor compound.) Whew!

The molar mass of aluminum chloride is 133.34 g/mole. (What the heck is a mole?) A mole is a unit of measurement used by chemists. It indicates the number of atoms, ions, molecules, etc., in a given chemical sample. Fun fact: Aluminum chloride can exist as a solid, liquid or gas.

Aluminum chloride is classified as an aluminum salt. It is found naturally in rocks that were formed as the earth was born. It can also be synthesized. As a solid, it is a coarse white powder. Often it is found contaminated with iron which gives it a yellow color. Aluminum chloride has a low melting point, and a low boiling point as well. It is highly reactive when it comes into contact with water. It has a strong, sharp odor, and can’t burn or catch on fire.

The uses of aluminum chloride are varied and include the production of pure aluminum metal. Large amounts are also produced for use in other industries too. It is used in the making of paint, synthetic rubber and in making petrochemicals. Aluminum chloride is found in nail strengtheners and air fresheners, and it can also treat wastewater. It has a lot of uses!

Most importantly, aluminum chloride is used to make antiperspirants, which offers the greatest benefit of all — it helps stop excessive sweating. By the way, if you’re looking for a strong antiperspirant, this one works pretty good 😉

How does aluminum chloride stop sweating?

There are two types of sweat glands found in your body, apocrine and eccrine. The eccrine sweat glands are far more numerous. They’re responsible for most of the sweat your body produces.

When an antiperspirant like SweatBlock is applied to the underarms (or other areas of the body), aluminum ions are absorbed. Dr. Eric Hanson of the University of North Carolina’s Department of Dermatology says, “The aluminum ions are taken into the cells that line the eccrine-gland ducts as the opening of the epidermis, the top layer of the skin.”

Dr. Louis Kuchnir, a physical chemist who practices in Marlborough, Massachusetts, describes the process in more detail. He explains that an aluminum chloride molecule can bind six water molecules. It can also tightly bind additional layers of 12-20 water molecules, “making the water very viscous such that the weak muscles that push sweat out of our sweat glands are unable to move the sweat to the surface of our skin,” he says.

Dr. Kuchnir continues, “When aluminum chloride gets close to water, it soaks it up and thickens it. By spreading it over the areas that perspire, it thickens the water in the top of the duct where the sweat’s coming out, and that thickening, like a gel, will block it.”

In layman’s terms, aluminum chloride and other aluminum compounds react to sweat. The resulting reaction forms a gel-like plug that blocks sweat from reaching the skin’s surface.

There you have it. That’s how antiperspirants with aluminum chloride work. Isn’t medical science amazing?

Is aluminum chloride safe? False claims debunked

You may have read something somewhere or heard rumors asserting that aluminium chloride is not safe. Some deeply flawed studies have linked its use to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and even kidney disease.

So, what’s the truth?

The International Hyperhidrosis Society notes that aluminum chloride has been safely used for over 80 years and has proven to be effective and non-toxic.

Let’s briefly consider one of the most persistent rumors: Aluminum chloride in antiperspirants causes breast cancer. This is simply not true.

The authors of these now discredited studies asserted that the chemicals in antiperspirants, including aluminum chloride, are absorbed through the skin in the underarms. They claimed the chemicals then interact with DNA creating malignant mutations.

Because most breast cancers begin in the upper and outer portion of the breast, the region closest to the armpit where antiperspirants are used, they assumed antiperspirants must be responsible for some breast cancers.

Not so!

“Why you would think that antiperspirant would somehow go upstream and get into your lymph nodes and then somehow get into the breast is unclear,” states Dr. Timothy J. Moynihan. Dr. Moynihan, an oncologist, serves as the Education Chair and consultant for the Division of Medical Oncology at the Mayo Clinic. “It doesn’t make sense other than the fact that it’s in the neighborhood.”

Any claims that aluminum chloride in antiperspirants can also be responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and kidney disease have been similarly disproven. “These products can be used with high confidence of their safety. They’ve been used for many years, and there’s no evidence that suggests a problem,” states John Bailey, Ph.D., Chief Scientist with the Personal Care Products Council.

There’s much more reliable information available regarding the safety of aluminum chloride.

What are the side effects of aluminum chloride and how to minimize them?

The possible side effects of aluminum chloride are mild. The most commonly reported side effects are itching or a mild burning immediately after application. Tingling or a prickly sensation are also common side effects. These are short-lived and normally disappear shortly after application. If skin irritation persists you should talk to your doctor.

The possibility of itching, burning or tingling or other skin irritation due to aluminum chloride in deodorants or antiperspirants can be minimized by observing these precautions:

  • Wait 24 to 48 hours after shaving before applying.
  • Never apply an aluminum chloride antiperspirant to broken or infected skin.
  • Let your underarms or other areas where antiperspirant has been applied to completely air dry before putting on your clothing.

For people with extremely sensitive skin, aluminum chloride antiperspirants or antiperspirant deodorants may not be a viable solution.

Other forms of aluminum used in antiperspirants

While aluminum chloride is the most common aluminum compound used in today’s antiperspirants, there are other forms of aluminum that are also used to reduce sweating and treat hyperhidrosis. They are:

  • Aluminum Chlorohydrate (also known as Aluminium Chlorohydrate).
  • Aluminum Zirconium Tricholorohydrex Glycine
  • Aluminum Chloride Hexahydrate
  • Aluminum Hydroxybromid

All of these aluminum salts work in the same fashion as aluminum chloride. However, not all forms of Aluminum are created equal. Some forms are stronger than others and may have longer lasting results. For example, an antiperspirant with 10% aluminum chloride is not the same as an antiperspirant with 10% aluminum zirconium.

Discovery and history of aluminum chloride

Aluminum chloride was discovered in 1825 by Hans Christian Oersted, a distinguished Danish physicist and chemist. It is one of the oldest chemicals used in organic chemistry.

Aluminum salts were marketed as an antiperspirant as early as 1903 in a product named Everdry. Another notable and popular brand was Odo-ro-no, invented by a Cincinnati surgeon who suffered from sweaty hands. His daughter promoted Odo-ro-no throughout the country. Her company embarked upon an aggressive marketing campaign in 1919 featuring ads highlighting “a subject too often avoided.” That subject was the foul-smelling underarms of women. The popularity of Odo-ro-no skyrocketed and sales doubled almost overnight.

Three years previous to the debut of Odo-ro-no, an Illinois dermatologist, Arthur W. Stillians, published a cure for profuse sweating. Dr. Stillians observes, “the knowledge that an unpleasant odor clings to one makes the sensitive person dread to meet others.” Those who suffer from hyperhidrosis will confirm Dr. Stillian’s statement. Hyperhidrosis messes up the lives of those who have it— emotionally, physically, and socially.

This was a time when people with hyperhidrosis symptoms were often dosed with X-rays. But instead of zapping his patients with dangerous radiation, Stillians offered a much better solution in the form of a revolutionary hyperhidrosis treatment: An aluminum chloride cream that could be applied three times a week to the underarms. He wrote in a medical journal of the period, “In 20 cases in which I have used this lotion, it has never failed to give relief.” It was a harbinger of things to come.

Unfortunately, both Stillian and Odo-ro-no suffered from a common problem. The aluminum chloride contained in these early products could stain clothing and irritate the skin. Stillians notes in his medical journal, “The drug is not wholly bland. For excessive use of it will cause a sharp itching or stinging sensation.”

It would be 1940 before anyone found a way to reduce the unpleasant side effects of antiperspirants made with aluminum chloride. A chemist, Jules Montenier, found a way to buffer the acidity. He filed a patent for the process and an antiperspirant product called Stopette, (great name, BTW) was introduced. In postwar America, a significant uptick in office life led to the increased popularity of deodorants and antiperspirants. In the early 1950’s, roll-ons were born. Aerosol products hit store shelves in the late 1960’s. Today the deodorant and antiperspirant market is almost $76 billion worldwide.

It’s worth noting that while Everdry was the first antiperspirant, deodorants were actually introduced much earlier. They smelled nice but didn’t stop sweating. In the 1860’s, doctors found that certain chemicals used as disinfectants could eliminate body odor. A commercially available disinfectant made specifically for armpits found its way into the market in 1888. It was called Mum (another great name).

In conclusion

It’s easy for people who DON’T sweat excessively to say things like “Antiperspirant is bad!”

For those who suffer with hyperhidrosis, aluminum-based antiperspirants can be life-changing (in a good way). It works non-invasively to eliminate or significantly reduce profuse sweating for millions of people around the world.

According to qualified experts, aluminum chloride is safe. It’s been tested for over eight decades. Study after study demonstrates that there is no connection between antiperspirants and breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease or any other malady. The American Cancer Society and the International Hyperhidrosis Society, among others, attest to its safety and efficacy.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a prescription-only drug designed to treat axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive armpit sweating). This hyperhirosis medicine is called Qbrexza (or Qbrexza Cloth), and it is manufactured by Dermira. Qbrexza Cloth will be available to the public sometime in October of 2018.

New hyperhidrosis treatments are encouraging and welcome. Let’s look at this newly approved treatment and it’s application(s) and potential side effects.

What Should Know Before Trying Qbrexza:

  • What is Qbrexza?
  • How does Qbrexza work? How does it reduce sweating?
  • How to use Qbrexza
  • Who should use Qbrexza?
  • Why is Qbrexza only available by prescription?
  • What is the difference between Qbrexza’s ingredients and clinical-strength antiperspirants like SweatBlock?
  • How is Qbrexza different from other Anticholinergic drugs (focused topical treatment vs generalized oral treatment)?
  • What are the side effects of Qbrexza?
  • Qbrexza risks and warnings
  • Where can you purchase Qbrexza?
  • Who makes Qbrexza and what do I need to know about Dermira
  • Are there Qbrexza alternatives?

Over 15 million in the United States suffer from excessive sweating ( hyperhidrosis ). Many of these people suffer in silence. And fewer than 40% ever seek help for their excessive perspiration.

☝️ Wondering why you might be sweating more than normal?
Here are 12 possible reasons people sweat so much.

Hyperhidrosis is normally not life-threatening, but it can l be profoundly life-altering. People who suffer from extreme cases of excessive sweating find that it reeks havoc on the social, emotional and occupational facets of their lives. It turns outgoing social butterflies into a cave-dwelling introverts who may feel like lighting a candle and waiting until it’s all over.

There are many treatments available for axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating). The newest is Qbrexza Cloth. Qbrexza Cloth is a prescription drug specifically designed for topical use on the underarm area. If you sweat excessively, you might consider making a trip to your doctor to see if you are a potential candidate.

This guide is designed to answer your questions about Qbrexza: how it works and what side effects can be expected and even anticipated. What follows will help you make an informed decision.

What is Qbrexza?

Qbrexza is a medicated wipe or towelette that is topically applied to the underarms to reduce excessive armpit sweating. Available only by prescription, it is a topically applied anticholinergic medicine for the treatment of primary axillary hyperhidrosis (extreme focal sweating).

How does Qbrexza work? How does it reduce sweating?

Qbrexza contains an anticholinergic drug called glycopyrronium. Anticholinergic drugs prevent your body’s nervous system from communicating with certain other cells. In this instance, the glycopyrronium blocks your body from activating your sweat glands. As an analogy, imagine cutting the cable on your computer’s wired keyboard. Whatever you type on the keyboard will be blocked from getting to the computer because of the broken connection. That’s how Qbrexza works.

How to Use Qbrexza

The Qbrexza cloth is applied by swabbing the affected underarm area every 24 hours with a saturated wipe. If effective as intended, the medicated Qbrexza wipe will prevent armpit sweat glands from activating. Because Qbrexza is a powerful prescription drug, your doctor may have additional instructions for its safe use. As with other topical axillary hyperhidrosis treatments, Dermira recommends that Qbrexza be used only on clean, dry skin AND never on broken or irritated skin.

Should you use Qbrexza?

Qbrexza is specifically designed for those who suffer from axillary hyperhidrosis or excessive underarm sweating. As with many prescription drugs, Qbrexza is accompanied with a entourage of potential unwanted side effects and warnings. It should only be considered after you’ve exhausted all other lower-risk treatment options.

You should never use prescription drugs without first consulting your doctor. (And never use a prescription that hasn’t been prescribed for you personally.) Qbrexza’s maker also recommends its use for patients aged 9 and older. Clinical testing on children younger than 9 years is inconclusive. Its safety and effectiveness for young children are unknown.

Why is Qbrexza only available by prescription?

Qbrexza contains the active ingredient glycopyrronium, an anticholinergic drug. This drug has been previously available as an oral medication for treating diseases unrelated to hyperhidrosis. It’s use as a treatment for hyperhidrosis has been “off label” meaning that it was not specifically intended to treat excessive sweating. Neurotransmitter-blocking anticholinergic drugs like glycopyrronium were initially prescribed for the treatment of COPD, asthma, incontinence, and other types of gastrointestinal issues.

Qbrexza is the first topical application of glycopyrronium specifically intended for the treatment of hyperhidrosis. The side effect warnings for applying the drug topically are the same as when the drug is taken by mouth.

What is the difference between Qbrexza’s ingredients and clinical strength antiperspirants?

Clinical strength antiperspirants available over the counter use some form of the active ingredient aluminum chloride. It has proven effective for over 80 years and does not require a doctor’s prescription. Potential side effects of the antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride are minor, localized, and short-lived.

Because Qbrexza uses the active ingredient glycopyrronium, there are potentially very serious warnings and side effects. Other less risk-prone treatments may offer as much efficacy as Qbrexza.

How is Qbrexza different from other Anticholinergic drugs?

As mentioned before, Qbrexza is the only anticholinergic drug currently approved by the FDA specifically for the treatment of hyperhidrosis. Both the oral anticholinergic and the topical anticholinergic in Qbrexza utilize the same drug. Orally administered anticholinergics affect the entire body. The topical formulation applied locally on your armpits is intended to be more focused. Either way the anticholinergic is absorbed into your system. There is a high risk for negative side effects in both the oral and topical treatments.

What are side effects of Qbrexza?

Patients with certain medical conditions should avoid glycopyrronium, both in oral and topically-applied forms, as with Qbrexza Cloth. The use of anticholinergics for these people can have dire health consequences.

These include patients with conditions such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Unstable cardiovascular status
  • Paralytic ileus
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Toxic megacolon
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

Caution: Dermira recommends that Qbrexza medication should not be used while taking any other anticholinergic drug. There could be a resultant additive effect that will increase the adverse side effects of other anticholinergic medications.

Possible side effects of Qbrexza

The possible side effects of Qbrexza and other anticholinergic drugs include:

  • Dry mouth. Dry mouth was the most commonly reported side effect in the clinical Qbrexza trials. 24.2% of trial subjects reported dry mouth– a 1 in 4 chance.
  • Constipation. Because anticholinergic drugs affect the central nervous system, constipation is a frequent side effect. You may need to use a laxative while using Qbrexza.
  • Urinary retention (trouble peeing). If you have a history of trouble urinating, or if you have difficulty passing urine now, or you have a distended bladder, you should proceed with great caution when considering the use of Qbrexza. If you experience any urinary troubles, tell your doctor. Anyone with bladder neck obstruction or prostatic hypertrophy should exercise extreme caution. When Qbrexza was tested in the clinical trials, people who had a history of any urinary retention problems were excluded from the study.
  • Blurred vision. in the clinical trials of Qbrexza, mydriasis or dilation of the pupils in the eyes was reported nearly 7% of study participants. This is why it’s dangerous to drive or operate machinery. Be careful and safe. If you experience any vision problems while using Qbrexza, immediately discontinue activity until your vision clears. It will pass. Wait it out.
  • Head and throat pain. Head and/or throat pain was reported by 5.7% clinical study participants. Dry throat without specific pain was also noted.
  • Burning and itchy skin. Skin irritations are frequently experienced by users of anticholinergics. Localized skin reactions at the site of the application in the armpits were not uncommon in the Qbrexza clinical trial. These included erythema (redness) by 17.0% of study participants, some burning or stinging sensations by 14.1% of participants and pruritus or severe itching was experienced by 8.1% of those in the study.
  • Dry skin, mouth, and eyes. Also common side effects from anticholinergic use.
  • Body temperature control. Qbrexza users will experience reduced sweating. Heat stroke and hyperpyrexia can occur when you don’t sweat enough to cool your body. If you become overheated while minimally sweating or you stop sweating all together, seek out a doctor’s help immediately.
  • Anticholinergic Syndrome. Anticholinergic syndrome is the result of an overdose of anticholinergic drugs. It can cause central inhibition, which leads to a hyperactive, agitated state of delirium, accompanied by feelings of confusion and restlessness. Poking at imaginary objects is a common symptom of anticholinergic syndrome.

If you’re using Qbrexza or any other anticholinergic drug, be watchful for these tell-tale symptoms:

  • 1. Hot, dry skin with a flushed appearance
  • 2. Dilated pupils in your eyes (mydriasis)
  • 3. Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • 4. Constipation and decreased bowel sounds
  • 5. Difficulty urinating

Anticholinergic syndrome ranges in severity from mild to life-threatening seizures, coma, and even cardiovascular toxicity.

Qbrexza Risks and Warnings

If you are taking any of the following medications, it is important to talk to your doctor as there could be dangerous drug interactions:

  • Antihistamines (cold medicines) such as Cyproheptadine, Chlorpheniramine, Promethazine, Doxylamine, or Diphenhydramine
  • An antitussive (cough medicine) like Dextromethorphan
  • Tricyclic antidepressants like Doxepin, Amitriptyline (often used for migraines), or Imipramine
  • Antipsychotics like Olanzapine, Quetiapine, Haloperidol, Droperidol, or Chlorpromazine
  • Anticonvulsants like Carbamazepine
  • Antiemetics (travel sickness medicine) like scopolamine (brand name Hyoscine)
  • Topical ophthalmoplegics (for optical migraines) such as Homatropine and Cyclopentolate

In addition, contact with certain plants can trigger negative side effects. Be careful using Qbrexza wipes in proximity to any of the family of nightshade plants (also known as Atropa belladonna), mandrake root, jimson weed, lupin beans, and Angel’s Trumpet (also known as Datura).

Other Warnings include…

  • Pregnancy. There is currently no available data on the use of Qbrexza medication for pregnant women. It is not possible to determine the potential risk associated with this drug for adverse developmental outcomes for the fetus.
  • Lactation (breast feeding) There is currently no data available on the how the presence of glycopyrrolate in human milk may affect an infant or what the effects would be on the mother’s milk production. Developmental benefits of infant breastfeeding should be considered.
  • Renal Impairment (kidney disease) The ability to eliminate glycopyrronium will be impaired for any patient with a diagnosis of kidney disease or renal failure.

Qbrexza effectiveness

The long-term clinical studies assessed the safety of using Qbrexza over the period of one year.

When compared to participants who received placebos, the patients dosing with Qbrexza did report significant improvement. The severity of excessive sweating was reduced. The quality of life improved with what was considered to be a mild to moderate range of side effects.

Between 72% and 77% of participants reported a reduction in excessive perspiration. The patients who experienced a reduction in underarm sweating reported at least a 50% reduction in the sweat volume.

Who makes Qbrexza and what should I know about Dermira?

Dermira is the manufacturer of Qbrexza. It is a specialty biopharmaceutical development-stage biotech company. It focuses on the development and commercialization of innovative therapies and differentiated products in dermatology. The company is based in the San Francisco Bay area of California, in Menlo Park.

When will Qbrexza be available?

Dermira made Qbrexza available via prescription in early October of 2018.

Are there Qbrexza alternatives?

For the millions of people that suffer from excessive sweating, there is an entire gamut of hyperhidrosis treatments that have proven safe and effective. Some may provide lasting relief without using an anticholinergic with it’s associated risks and side effects. Qbrexza alternatives include:

  • Lifestyle remedies including regular bathing, choosing the right clothing and using an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant. There are even special tee shirts that absorb or block sweat.
  • Clinical strength antiperspirants like SweatBlock. These can safely and effectively stop profuse sweating for up to 7 days with no serious side effects. SweatBlock provides dependable relief for sufferers of all forms of primary hyperhidrosis.
  • Prescription strength antiperspirants. These have the highest allowable concentration of aluminum chloride (or similar).
  • Botox injections
  • Microwave treatments that destroy targeted sweat glands. Painful and effective but expensive.
  • Iontophoresis. These treatments for excessive sweating of the hands or feet use low voltage electrical current to drive medications, often anticholinergics, through the skin.
  • Sweat gland removal surgery. A last resort option where sweat glands are permanently removed. Highly invasive and expensive.

Whatever the extent of your sweating problem, there is a viable treatment that can provide relief. Qbrexza is a new, powerful drug that can reduce or eliminate underarm perspiration. But, it’s active ingredient, glycopyrronium, brings with it the high likelihood of unwanted, perhaps even serious, side effects.

Before you go down the road of prescription antiperspirants or hyperhidrosis medications like Qbrexza, try SweatBlock. It’s a strong antiperspirant that doesn’t require prescriptions or come with a long list of scary side effects. Try SweatBlock risk free today.