Excessive underarm sweating is “the pits” – pun intended.
If you’ve ever suffered through an embarrassing sweaty hug, an awkward high-five, or a sweat-soaked job interview — this article is for you.
First, a question: What would freedom from excessive sweat mean to you?
More confidence? Less embarrassment? More living? Less hiding?
Or maybe it’s as simple as just wearing what you want without the worry of perspiration.
Let’s be honest: stopping unwanted sweat and regaining lost confidence can be “game-changing”.
Six tips to help you stop sweating so much:
- 1. Use a strong antiperspirant.
- 2. Apply antiperspirant correctly to maximize effectiveness.
- 3. Dress strategically to reduce and conceal sweat.
- 4. Manage diet to minimize sweat – Avoid sweat triggers.
- 5. Exercise frequently to combat stress sweat.
- 6. Relax – Don’t “sweat” your sweat.
Other helpful things we’ll cover…
- 7. Home remedies for excessive sweating.
- 8. Medications to control sweat.
- 9. Advanced treatments for hyperhidrosis.
Before we go any further, you should take a look at this article about excessive sweating causes. Knowing the “why” to your sweat problem is an important step in choosing an effective treatment.
1. Use a Strong Antiperspirant
Are you serious about stopping excessive armpit sweat? Take that chalky, shirt-staining antiperspirant / deodorant combo and chuck it out the window. You need a strong solution specifically designed to stop sweat — a clinical strength antiperspirant.
It’s not uncommon for people to reach for a deodorant to prevent sweating. Unfortunately, deodorants can only mask the smell of bacteria-laced sweat, not prevent it.
You might have also discovered that drug-store antiperspirants just aren’t effective. They do more shirt-staining than actual sweat blocking.
The best antiperspirants will likely contain higher levels of aluminum chloride. (Aluminum chloride does the actual blocking of sweat).
If you suffer from excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis, look for an antiperspirant with at least 14% aluminum chloride.
Many effective over-the-counter solutions are available. If you need something even stronger, your doctor can recommend a prescription antiperspirant.
2. Apply Antiperspirant Correctly
Did you know you’ve most likely been using antiperspirant all wrong?
And you’re not alone…
Most of us wake up in the morning, take a shower, apply some antiperspirant and get on with the day. If you’re doing this, you’re doing it wrong.
Want to get the most out of your antiperspirant? Follow these simple steps:
- Apply at night (or before bed): Your antiperspirant needs time and a dry surface to effectively block sweat. At night, temperatures are lower and it’s the time of day when people are less active. A full night of sleep plus lower sweat levels gives the antiperspirant ample time to work its magic.
- Apply on a clean, dry skin surface: Make sure your underarms (or other body parts) are dirt and residue free. Even the slightest residue from deodorant could sabotage your antiperspirants sweat-stopping abilities. For best results, shower and ensure your underarms are completely dry before applying antiperspirant.
- Optimal skin contact: Antiperspirant works best when it has optimal contact with the skin surface. Not surprisingly, hairy armpits can prevent this from happening. For best results, consider trimming or shaving that flattering underarm hairdo. Warning: Do not apply antiperspirant immediately after shaving. Wait at least 24 hours to avoid unnecessary skin irritation.
- Don’t give up if antiperspirant doesn’t stop sweat instantly: Don’t lose hope if the sweat keeps flowing after just one application of antiperspirant. For some, it can take three to four days of consistent use to achieve desired results. Once the antiperspirant starts working, you can apply as needed.
- Be smart: If your antiperspirant is causing severe skin irritation or burning – STOP using it. Not everything works for everyone. Test antiperspirant on a small area of skin before applying to all your problem areas.
3. Dress Strategically:
As the weather changes, so does your wardrobe. You dress light when it’s hot, and bundle up when it’s cold.
For a lot of us, excessive sweating just happens. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, how cold it is, if you’re running a marathon or sitting on the couch – the sweat comes… and comes…
It doesn’t hurt to have a few wardrobe tricks up your sleeve to conceal and reduce sweating when it matters most.
Dress in light, breathable fabrics with ample ventilation.
This keeps the temperature down and the air flowing to help reduce sweat levels. A word of caution, sporting a tank top to your next job interview may not be appropriate or effective.
Avoid these sweat amplifying colors when possible.
If you have an important engagement or social event – ditch the light blues, grays, and bright colors. They’ll betray you and steal your confidence faster than you can say “whoa nellie!”
Keep these sweat-concealing colors and styles handy.
Dark blues, blacks, dark colors and distracting patterns are excellent sweat-camouflage. Jackets, hoodies and sweatshirts are always useful in keeping sweat marks hidden.
But seriously, let’s just forget this whole “dressing strategically” bit. Grab a strong antiperspirant and you’ll be able to wear what you want, where you want, without the worry of sweat. We’ve heard this one is pretty good ;).
4. Manage Diet to Manage Sweat
Make these tweaks to your diet and it just may solve your sweat problem(s).
- Stay Hydrated: Aside from keeping you alive, water provides other useful benefits. In this instance, it helps cool your body. Lower core temperature means your body doesn’t have to sweat as much to release extra heat. On the other hand, dehydration can lead to more sweating. Moral of the story, drink plenty of water and you’ll sweat a lot less. You may have heard the eight cups a day rule, but experts suggest nine cups for women and 13 for men.
- Avoid Spicy Foods: Your body reacts to spicy food the same way it would to a hot, sunny day. It makes you sweat, even if the outside temperature is cold.
- Cut down on deep fried, fatty, processed foods: Avoid fast foods, chocolate, white bread, junk food, and other carb-loaded comfort foods. Some people swear that a low carb/no carb lifestyle can be a cure for excessive sweating.
- Avoid Caffeine-Loaded Coffee & Energy Drinks: Unfortunately, your morning coffee isn’t just good for extra energy – it’s also great for extra sweat.
- Take Vitamin B: Vitamin B helps your organs and other vital systems function properly. So when you have enough vitamin B in your body, it doesn’t work as hard, which of course means you produce less sweat. Even better, adding a vitamin B tablet to your daily routine can also give you more energy throughout the day.
- Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: Eating fruits and vegetables is a great way to reduce the amount of sweat your body generates. Fruits and veggies can help aid in the digestion process and give you essential vitamins. If your digestion if off, your body automatically produces excess sweat.
- Fruits and veggies that promote healthy digestion: Cucumbers, Celery, Watermelon, Spinach, Lettuce,
Grapefruit, Bell Peppers, Olive Oil
5. Exercise regularly to combat stress sweat
Typically, we don’t think of exercise as a way of reducing sweat. But in this case, it can do exactly that.
First, exercise can lower the stress hormone cortisol. Second, exercise can trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins reduce your perception of pain, help you relax, and provide a feeling of satisfaction, kind of like morphine.
Lower stress hormone levels combined with the release of endorphins puts your body at ease. This can minimize the chance of an excessive sweat response to everyday stressors.
Less stressing = less sweating.
6. Relax – Don’t “sweat” your sweat.
Stressing about your sweat will only make it worse. We call this the stress/sweat cycle. You sweat — your sweat leads to stress — then your stress leads to even more sweat… etc.. etc… etc…
Learn how to manage your stress and you’ll be one step closer to managing unwanted sweat.
Here’s the key: you need to trick your body into thinking common stressors are no big deal. Common stressors include job interviews, first dates, sales calls, tests, etc… (whatever stresses you out)
Nervous sweat or stress sweat happens when your body mistakenly thinks it’s in danger. A date or job interview are hardly dangerous.
Follow these steps to keep your body from going into full-blown panic mode when you encounter potential stressors:
Prepare: Before you encounter a stressful situation, study your thoughts. Ask yourself, what do you really have to be nervous about? Write it down. Once you’ve established the source of your stress, it becomes easier to dispel it.
Practice the meditation techniques below to prepare your mind for potentially stressful situations.
Breath: Tell yourself to breathe. It’s not uncommon for people to unknowingly hold their breath when under stress. Taking a slow, deep breath tells your body that it’s not in any sort of danger. Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose, hold your breath for three seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this 10 times.
Focus on the Moment: Don’t get caught up in all the worst-case scenarios that stress puts you through. If you let yourself get carried away, you’ll end up sweating over those “what ifs” and lose focus on the moment at hand.
Don’t Obsess Over the Sweat: If you start to sweat, don’t worry about it. You don’t need to add another layer of worry to the stress ball which induced the sweating in the first place. Don’t let uninvited sweat marks distract you from important things in life.
7. Home Remedies to Stop Sweating
If you’re prone to excessive sweating, there are home remedies that can help.
For the sake of transparency: These remedies are not lab tested, medically based, or proven to be effective on a large scale. It doesn’t mean they don’t work.
But, It’s important to remember that not all home remedies will work for everyone. Body chemistry varies from person to person. Some sweat more than others and for very different reasons. That’s why not every home remedy will control sweat for everyone.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural astringent. When applied topically, it tightens skin pores and helps control sweat production. It can also help rid your body of odor-causing bacteria by balancing pH levels of the body. In a way, it’s a natural antiperspirant and deodorizer.
To apply vinegar to your skin:
1) Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar until it’s fully saturated.
2) Apply apple cider vinegar to your problem areas at night just before you go to bed.
In the morning, wash the vinegar off of your skin before you start getting ready for the day.
If you prefer, you can also drink the apple cider vinegar, but be warned; it doesn’t taste like apple cider. Simply mix a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and honey into a glass of water and drink it daily. It helps to dry out your skin, which prevents sweat from coming through your pores.
Sage is one of the better herbal remedies for excessive sweating. It contains a natural astringent called tannic acid. Tannic acid has the ability to constrict and shrink your skin and pores. This shrinking helps reduce sweat just like an antiperspirant. Sage also helps kill odor-causing bacteria found in the armpits and feet.
Sage for Sweaty Armpits…
Add two sage tea bags to two cups of boiling water. Let steep and cool to room temperature. Dab generously on underarms with clean towel. Repeat two or more times daily for best results.
Sage for Sweaty Hands and Feet…
Add four to five sage tea bags to a quart of boiling water. Let the tea steep until it’s cool enough to touch. Once cooled, soak your hands/feet in the sage solution for 30 minutes. Repeat his process daily (multiple times daily for best results).
Feeling Brave? Drink a cup of sage tea before bedtime. Some experts claim that drinking sage tea can also reduce excessive sweat.
Black tea makes a great natural antiperspirant due to its high levels of tannic acid. Its astringent properties tighten the skin and constrict the pores to reduce sweat.
Black tea for underarm sweating…
Add two tea bags of black tea to three to four cups of boiling water. Steep for 10-15 minutes and let cool. Dab thoroughly on underarms.
Black tea for hand and foot sweating…
Add two bags of black tea to four cups boiling water. Allow to steep in large basin or bowl for 10 minutes. When water is cool enough to touch, soak your palms or feet for 20 minutes. Like anything else, repetition is key. The effectiveness of the treatment can increase as you repeat this process daily.
To be clear, baking soda will not stop excessive sweating. It does have sweat-absorbing properties that can keep you dry for short periods, but it’s more of an odor blocker than a sweat blocker.
Baking soda makes an excellent natural deodorant. It has the ability to lower pH levels in your body and absorb foul odors caused by bacteria. Many natural deodorants use baking soda as their primary deodorizing ingredient.
To apply, mix equal parts baking soda and cornstarch. Additonally, you can add lavender essential oil for its skin-soothing properties and sweet fragrance. Apply the mixture with a damp cloth to clean underarms. After 20-30 minutes, rinse with water. Again, repetition helps with effectiveness.
A great way to reduce excessive sweating is by managing stress and anxiety.
Chamomile is one of the best herbs for eliminating stress and promoting relaxation. Both things that contribute to excessive sweating. Chamomile can also aid in digestion and get rid of body odor.
What to do? Drink two to three cups of chamomile tea each day to stay calm and fresh smelling. Remember, less stress and anxiety can lead to less sweat.
You might also place a few drops of chamomile oil into your bath water for a nice chamomile soak.
Wheatgrass can influence common sweat triggers including: pH levels, metabolism, digestive system, toxin levels, and chronic illness. These are all contributors to sweat production. Adding wheatgrass to your daily regime can help keep these sweat triggers in the “off” position.
Drink wheatgrass juice daily to get maximum benefit (available in powder form also).
Witch Hazel is also one of nature’s natural astringents (ability to shrink skin and constrict pores). Some of the most effective antiperspirants contain witch hazel. It can be particularly helpful in preventing face sweating.
Application for sweaty face, armpits and feet: Soak a cotton pad in a witch hazel solution and apply to affected areas. You can leave the witch hazel on or wash it off after 30 minutes. Repeat this process daily for maximum effectiveness.
Some home remedy experts claim that potatoes can absorb excess sweat on the body. This one does seem a bit “out there” but many consider it an effective natural antiperspirant.
How it works: Take a small piece of potato, rub it on your sweat-prone areas. Let the potato residue dry completely on skin before getting dressed. Experts also suggest wearing light, loose-fitting clothing.
Can Baby Powder Stop Sweat?
Contrary to some advice, baby powder doesn’t stop sweat. It absorbs it. If you’re willing to put up with the mess, you can apply baby powder to sweat-prone areas. Look for a talc-free baby poweder that uses cornstarch or baking soda, especially for your more private body parts.
Can Alcohol Stop Sweat?
Alcohol doesn’t stop sweat completely. It works the same way vinegar does. It helps close the pores of your skin, which helps prevent excess sweating. You can use rubbing alcohol topically. Just apply it the same way you would the apple cider vinegar.
Alcohol wipes can be a quick, though temporary, fix for sweaty hands. Simply rub your palms with alcohol wipes before any social encounter. This can help your hands stay dry enough to avoid awkward sweaty handshakes.
Keep in mind, you can’t consume rubbing alcohol. Also, using it overnight isn’t the best way to use alcohol to treat excess sweating. It’s a better idea to keep alcohol wipes on hand to use them as needed.
8. Medications to Prevent Excess Sweating
Home remedies and medications can also come in handy during your battle against perspiration. It’s important to remember, all you need to do is find the right combination of sweat-reducing methods for your body. Once you do, excessive sweating will rarely cross your mind.
What Medications Can Stop Sweat?
If you prefer to use medication to stop sweating, it’s an available option. You should talk to your doctor to determine which type of medication is right for you. In most cases, you have an option of either an oral or topical treatment.
Consider Prescription Anticholinergics
When all other options are exhausted, your doctor may prescribe you an anticholinergic medication. These work by blocking the binding of your brain’s neurotransmitters to the receptor in its nerve cells. Basically, the medication blocks the signals in your brain that tell your body to produce a lot of sweat.
Some commonly prescribed medications include:
Topical Prescription-strength Treatments
Instead of prescribing a pill, your doctor may prefer you try a topical treatment first. Typically, topical treatments are simply prescription-strength antiperspirants that work by closing the sweat ducts on the area of skin where the medication is applied. Prescription-strength antiperspirant typically has higher concentrations of aluminum chloride.
Most of the time, this type of prescription is only recommended to help with massive sweating problems. After all, your body needs to be able to sweat a little bit. So talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.
9. Hyperhidrosis Surgery and Other Advanced Treatments
Botox® to Stop Sweating
If a clinical strength antiperspirant isn’t working for you, Botox® may be a viable treatment to stop stubborn sweat. OnabotulinumtoxinA Injections (Botox®) work by blocking a specific neurotransmitter in your body that stimulates your sweat glands. It essentially blocks the chemicals responsible for turning your sweat glands “on”.
Botox® involves the insertion of small needles into sweat prone areas of your body (armpits, hands, feet, head and face). If needles make you squeamish, you may want to look elsewhere for your sweating cure.
Botox® is not a permanent fix, but it can be effective. In fact, a few injections into the armpits can prevent excessive sweating for up to 6 months. Because of this, many brides choose this option to avoid getting sweat stains on their wedding dress. Sometimes teenagers heading to prom might also get this treatment, with their parents’ approval and credit cards, of course.
miraDry is a non-invasive process where your sweat glands are “zapped” with electromagnetic energy. No sweat glands mean no sweat. Since your sweat glands don’t grow back, the results are long lasting, if not permanent. miraDry treatment costs are around $3000 and those who have undergone the procedure describe it as painful.
Studies reveal an 83 percent reduction in excessive armpit sweating. So if you can fork up the cash and don’t mind parting with your sweat glands for eternity, it might be a good idea.
Iontophoresis “Injection without a needle”
Iontophoresis is a procedure used to treat excessive sweating on the hands and feet. It’s an advanced treatment for people who suffer from hyperhidrosis or people who have failed to achieve results with clinical strength antiperspirants.
How does Iontophoresis work? It’s like an electrical injection. Patients place their hands or feet in water medicated with an anticholinergic (hyperhidrosis medication). Then the Iontophoresis device delivers the medication via electrical currents through the skin. Iontophoresis has been effective in treating sweaty feet, sweaty hands and facial hyperhidrosis.
Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (most invasive)
This is probably the most dangerous treatment that involves destroying nerve endings associated with overactive sweat glands.
Curettage for underarm (axillary) hyperhidrosis
This treatment involves scraping and vacuuming out the sweat glands in the armpit area. Ouch.
It isn’t always easy to determine what type of products will work best to stop sweat for you. But there are plenty of options available. And once you find a solution that works, you can worry less about things like clammy hands, facial sweat or sweat-drenched shirts. You can hold your head high and walk into that first date or job interview with confidence.