How many times have you found yourself wondering, “Why do I sweat so much?”

You’re not alone. There are millions of people out there who find themselves asking the same question. The good news is, there’s probably a reason that you sweat excessively. And once you determine the cause, it’s a lot easier to treat the problem.

12 Possible Causes for Excessive Sweating:

  • 1. Hyperhidrosis (Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis)
  • 2. High number of sweat glands
  • 3. Diet
  • 4. Heat and Humidity
  • 5. Anxiety and Stress
  • 6. Physical Exertion and Exercise
  • 7. Pregnancy
  • 8. Menopause
  • 9. Diabetes
  • 10. Puberty
  • 11. Medications
  • 12. Unrelated Disease (Secondary Hyperhidrosis)

Understanding how sweat works is the first step to understanding why you might be sweating more than normal.

Why do we sweat?

You might think sweat is just a spontaneous oozing of salty secretions on you skin. But there’s more to sweat than soggy armpits and sweaty handshakes.

Sweating is a critical cooling function that keeps you from overheating.

Think of a car. Your metabolism is like the engine of car. As it runs it produces heat. If a car engine gets too hot, it will quickly overheat and stop. To prevent this, your car has a radiator that circulates coolant around and through the engine. The coolant carries away excessive heat and keeps the engine cool and running.

When your body “engine” heats up, it too is at risk of overheating and shutting down (heat stroke). Fortunately, your body has coolant too! Your extra body heat gets released through sweat glands in the form of sweat on your skin. When body temperatures get extreme, your body will produce even more sweat to expel that extra heat.

Exercise, stressful situations, or digesting large amounts of protein (meat sweats) are just a few things that can trigger excessive sweating.

For some, excessive sweating happens without warning and for no reason. Even normal breathing can produce a set of sizable sweaty armpit stains.

Why do I sweat so much?

Like a choose-your-own-adventure book, this question can take us down different paths leading to very different conclusions. Let’s explore some of the reasons you might be sweating more than normal.

1. Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by excessive, often unpredictable sweating. It’s the kind of sweating that’s more than the body needs to cool itself. Way more. Four to five times more than normal. The sweating can occur at any time and for no reason. And while it’s a physiological condition, people who have it affirm that it also messes up their quality of life– socially, emotionally and psychologically.

A 2016 study involving more than 2000 participants, conducted by the International Hyperhidrosis Society, found that anxiety and depression were significantly higher in those with hyperhidrosis.

Hyperhidrosis affects an estimated 15.3 million people in the United States. (International Hyperhidrosis Society estimate.) It can affect the whole body or be isolated to specific areas of the body such as the hands, feet, face and forehead. It Hyperhidrosis usually begins in the adolescent years.

Excessive underarm sweating, also known as axillary hyperhidrosis, is one of the most common types of hyperhidrosis.  Other types of hyperhidrosis include: palmar hyperhidrosis (sweaty hands), hyperhidrosis of the feet (sweaty feet), and craniofacial hyperhidrosis (sweaty face and head).

Unfortunately, how or why hyperhidrosis occurs is still a mystery, although heredity is thought to play a major role.  All types are caused by an overstimulation of the sweat glands. In some cases, hyperhidrosis is a side effect of more serious underlying health conditions. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about irregular, unexplained or excessive sweating. Don’t suffer in silence.

While we’re talking about it, here’s a list of hyperhidrosis treatments to discuss with your doctor (or dermatoligist).

Tip: If you’re wondering “Why do I sweat so much all the time?” do a little research on hyperhidrosis. Then, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to accurately diagnose hyperhidrosis (either primary focal hyperhidrosis or secondary/generalized hyperhidrosis) and recommend the best possible excessive sweating treatments for you.

2. High Number of Sweat Glands

If you feel you sweat more than normal, the answer could simply be that you have more sweat glands.  The average person has about 2 million sweat glands. The most common, Eccrine glands can be found everywhere except inside your ear canals, on your lips and on the genitals.

The area of greatest concentration is on the bottoms of your feet. Your lower back has the least concentration of sweat glands.

Apocrine glands, the other kind of sweat gland, are concentrated in your armpits. They’re also found on your scalp, eyelids, around your nipples and in your groin area. Perhaps that answers the question, “Why do I sweat so much down there?”

Some people have up to 5 million sweat glands. The equation is simple. More sweat glands equals more sweat. In other words, you just won the genetic lottery when it comes to sweat glands! Aren’t you lucky?

Tip: Why do I sweat so much more than others? Genetics may be the answer. Try some simple lifestyle hacks to reduce your profuse perspiration.

  • Bathe daily
  • Air your feet often
  • Wear breathable and loose clothing
  • Try a good antiperspirant

3. Diet

Your diet matters. You really are what you eat. Your eating habits can have a significant impact on your sweating.

Take for example, capsaicin, an active compound found in chili peppers. It’s what creates the heat spicy food lovers crave. This little-known substance fools your body into thinking that the temperature is rising. The result… a side of “sweat tacos” with those spicy nachos.

Spicy foods aren’t the only ones to blame. Processed fatty foods, alcoholic beverages, and foods high in sodium can also contribute to excess sweating. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black tea, and many soft drinks, are also frequent suspects. If your diet includes large amounts of these foods, that might explain your elevated levels of perspiration.

There are some people who sweat excessively when eating any food, even ice cream. Some sweat profusely just thinking about food. It’s called gustatory hyperhidrosis or Frey’s Syndrome.

Abnormal sweating when eating or sweating after eating can also occur for no known reason or can be a result of secondary hyperhidrosis. Diabetes, chronic headaches, shingles, herpes and Parkinson’s have all been known to cause gustatory sweating.

If you’re interested in learning more about diet and sweating, check out these article about foods that make sweat and another about foods that can reduce sweating.

Tip: If you’re wondering why you sweat so much for no reason, take a look at what you eat. Cut back on caffeinated beverages, hot or cold. Stay away from fatty foods and avoid alcohol. Your sweating after eating may improve and you’ll feel and look better.

4. Heat and Humidity

Hot, humid days are times when most of us get hit with tsunami-like waves of sweat. Like built -in fire suppression sprinklers, your sweat glands turn on to cool you down with refreshing sweat secretions. It’s normal. It’s healthy. It’s how your body fights overheating.

If you live in a hot climate that’s also humid, you’ll sweat more and the humidity in the air will hinder evaporation. That means your sweat is going to stick with you throughout the day. It’s simple. If you wear heavy, non-breathable clothing in warm weather, you’re going to sweat. And if it’s humid, well, that sweaty moisture is going to hang around awhile. Taking a couple of showers each day will help.

Tip: Why do I sweat so much when it’s hot? Heavy sweating when it’s hot is normal. But if you sweat even more than what the body needs to regulate its internal temperature, there are some things you can do to minimize the sweaty problem.

  • Taking multiple showers each day will help
  • Carry a handkerchief to wipe away perspiration on your face, neck, and head.
  • Try applying an antiperspirant to control underarm sweating
  • Wear light and loose clothing during those hot, muggy days
  • Make sure you stay hydrated.

5. Anxiety and Stress

Challenging workouts (when sweating is accepted and even welcomed) and sweltering weather are not the only times you find might yourself drenched in salty sweat. We’ve all had uncomfortable, sweaty moments. First dates, tense interviews, important presentations and nerve wracking proposals all cause normal people to sweat more. What do these situations have in common?  They all create higher levels of stress and anxiety.

As humans, we experience stress and anxiety almost daily.  Stress puts your body on high alert and activates your flight or fight reaction. This human survival mode increases blood flow, heart rate, body temperature, and sweat output. Sweat production during high stress situations is completely normal and healthy. It’s just really unpleasant and can be embarrassing too.

Nervous sweating is a physiological response to psychological stress. Dr. Carisa Perry-Parrish is a psychologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sweat Disorders in Baltimore, Maryland. She says, “Involuntary sweating is like your body betraying you.” In the worst way we want to appear confident but our body is saying, “I’m not sure I can do this.” And it’s a vicious circle. We sweat because we’re nervous and then we start feeling nervous because we’re sweating.

If sweating is excessive during stressful situations, it could indicate a more serious condition like hyperhidrosis. This kind of heavy sweating is often called “nervous sweating” or “stress sweat” and can usually be controlled with a strong antiperspirant.

Tip: Why do I sweat so much when nervous? Because you may feel a lack of control or confidence. Preparing in advance for anxious situations will help:

  • Visualize events unfolding just the way you want them to
  • Spend some time in quiet meditation and try letting go of your need to be in control
  • Yoga
  • A dependable antiperspirant can help increase your confidence level

6. Physical Exertion and Exercise

Let’s answer the question, “Why do I sweat so much when I exercise?” Remember, sweating is all about controlling temperature. When you exercise, as in an intense workout, eccrine sweat glands are mobilized into action to keep body temperature stable. Your brain’s thermostat (the hypothalamus) triggers sweat glands to release that all-too-familiar salty mixture of water, salt and electrolytes we call perspiration.

But it’s not just temperature that causes us to sweat. During exercise your heart rate, blood pressure and heavy breathing also cause your sweat glands to work overtime. Even when your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal, sweating can continue for a while because your muscles stay stimulated.

Exercise will cause you to sweat, and the more strenuous the activity, the more you’ll perspire. “But,” you ask, “why do I sweat so easily when other people seem to stay dry?” One factor could be your health and fitness. A person who is out of shape, overweight or not physically fit is more likely to sweat more profusely than a someone who keeps themselves physically fit.

Tip: Don’t worry about lots of sweating while exercising. It’s normal. It’s expected. Carry a small towel with you to wipe your sweaty forehead, neck and the palms of your hand. Avoid offending the person next to you because your work-out clothing hasn’t been washed in a week or you forgot to wear deodorant.

7. Pregnancy

Raging Pregnancy hormones can bring on more than weird food cravings and crazy mood swings. Yes, it’s a bumpy ride that can also bring along hemorrhoids, acne, bleeding gums. And you guessed it, lots of sweating.

Pregnancy increases hormone levels, metabolism and blood flow through your body, which in turn, increases sweat production. You’ll feel it most during the first and third trimester. Some women tend to sweat even more after pregnancy as their body regulates hormone levels and sheds stored water weight.

Other possible causes of excessive sweating during pregnancy can include a higher-than-normal BMI and the little tyke taking shape inside you. Your pride-and-joy-to-be can heat up your internal oven like never before. You’ll feel the heat but the little he or she will remain comfy and safe. Face it, as wonderful as pregnancy can be, you’re bound to feel a little uncomfortable for a few months.

Tip: Excessive sweating during pregnancy is just a part of the process. You can minimize your sweaty discomfort by:

  • Avoiding hot environments
  • Eating reasonably (even for two) and avoiding spicy foods
  • Wearing loose-fitting, comfortable clothing
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Making sure any medications you’re taking aren’t making things worse

8. Menopause

The heat spike starts in your chest. Like a bullet train it moves up to your neck and head. Beads of sweat form. Soon sweat is running down your face. The hot flash lasts for four or five minutes but seems 10 times longer. If you’re a woman, welcome to menopause.

Unfortunately, hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most common symptoms of Menopause. Like pregnancy, doctors believe that these flashes are caused by changing levels of estrogen. Do you see a pattern here? The more my hormones change, the more I sweat.

If you’re a woman between the ages of 45 and 55, your excessive sweating is probably due to menopause.

While normal aging is responsible for menopause in most women, surgery, and chemotherapy can also cause menopause. The duration and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats will differ from one woman to another. On average, you may experience menopausal hot flashes, and the excessive sweating they may bring on, for about five years.

Tip: If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why do I sweat so much when I’m sleeping?” and you’re in your mid-forties or older, menopause may be the answer. Some helpful hints that can lessen the effects of excessive sweating due to menopause include:

  • Keep the temperature cool
  • Place a fan close to you while in bed
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn to relax
  • Stay hydrated

9. Diabetes

There are at least two reasons why those who have diabetes sweat more than normal. The first is because those with diabetes tend to be overweight. When your body has to carry around extra weight, it means more work, and you guessed it, more sweat.

The second reason is high glucose levels because of poor diabetes management. A loss of nerve function can occur when blood sugar levels are elevated for too long. It’s called diabetic neuropathy. If the sweat gland nerves are damaged, they can’t communicate clearly with the sweat glands. Nerve message confusion can mean excessive sweating. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), about half of those who suffer from diabetes have or will have neuropathy.

Tip: The best way to control excessive sweating due to diabetes is to control blood glucose levels. Making sure insulin dosing levels are correct is essential. Eating a snack before going to bed can help reduce night sweats caused by low blood sugar. Exercise can also play an important role. Talk with your doctor to make sure your treatment practices and daily regimen are aligned with good diabetes care.

10. Puberty

Pimples, voice cracks and growth spurts are all common symptoms of puberty. A less common symptom of puberty is overactive sweat glands– about 3 million (on average) of them.

During puberty, your body experiences hormonal changes, body growth and a myriad of new emotions which all can lead to a very sweaty teen. This seems like piling on, since going through puberty is hard enough without having to throw in extra sweat with the awkward middle school photos.

Excessive sweating in both boys and girls during puberty is not uncommon. Besides experiencing a whole new range of emotions, pubescent teens will begin to sweat in new places. Add new emotional stress to newly activated apocrine sweat glands and the result is more sweat.

Tip: Question– Why do I sweat so much for a girl (or boy)? If you’re 12 to 15, the answer may be puberty. Here are some ways to help control new excessive sweating due to puberty.

  • Make sure you’re always wearing clean clothes. Stash an extra shirt in our backpack or in your school locker.
  • If underarm sweat has suddenly become a problem, try an antiperspirant or sweat absorbing pads in clothing.
  • Shower every day.

11. Medications

Think back to the last drug commercial you watched on TV. Remember that lightning-fast list of side-effects that appeared at the bottom of the screen at the end? When everyone is flying kites, riding bikes and jumping around like hobbits? This is when pharmaceutical companies quickly list some of the unwanted side effects of their medicines. The proverbial small print.

One of those small print items is sometimes Diaphoresis–  a side effect you’ll often hear on these ad disclaimers. This inconvenient sweat condition is characterized by “sweating, especially to an unusual degree as a symptom of disease or a side effect of a drug.” Medications may help relieve specific symptoms, but they also bring a host of their own side effects – like diaphoresis.

Tip: Medicines can cause excessive sweating. If you think you sweat so much for no reason, check the medications you’re taking. Ask your doctor if your medication could be causing you to sweat more than normal.

12. Unrelated Disease

Sometimes an unrelated disease or disorder can cause abnormally profuse sweating. When this happens, it’s called secondary hyperhidrosis or generalized hyperhidrosis. It’s caused by another, unrelated medical condition.

People who suffer from secondary hyperhidrosis usually experience sweating over larger areas of their bodies. They can also experience excessive sweating while sleeping. Treating the underlying disease will usually cure the sweating problem. Only a doctor can diagnose secondary hyperhidrosis.

Tip: If you’re sweating profusely over much of your body, talk to your doctor about generalized hyperhidrosis.

Here are some frequently asked questions about excessive sweating:

Why do I sweat so much on my face?

While craniofacial hyperhidrosis could be the cause of excessive sweating facial sweating, it’s not the most common cause. Most of your face is covered in eccrine sweat glands. Because these are controlled by your nervous system, you might find that you sweat from your face more when you’re nervous, worried, or stressed.

Your diet may also affect the amount of sweat your face produces. If you eat a lot of hot, spicy foods, drink alcohol, or consume foods that are hard to digest, it could cause you to sweat more on your face.

Why do I sweat so much under my arms?

The apocrine glands in your armpits produce protein-filled sweat to rid your body of excess toxins. So if you’re sweating a lot in your underarm area, it could be caused by your diet. But you also may produce more armpit sweat when you workout or you’re too hot. A clinical-strength antiperspirant should help you keep the underarm sweat under control.

Keep in mind, if your armpits excessively sweat, it’s also a good idea to wear a strong deodorant — and you should know the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. When the protein in the sweat mixes with the bacteria on your skin, it produces body odor. So while using a clinical-strength antiperspirant, such as SweatBlock towelettes, is a good idea, you need to use deodorant too.

Why do I sweat so much down there?

Sweating “down there” is just as normal as armpit sweat. It may be a bit more taboo to talk about, but everyone sweats in their groin area. The reasons you perspire in your groin area are the same reasons your armpits sweat. Your groin area has a high concentration of apocrine glands, so things like exercising, the temperature, your diet, and your hormones regulate the amount of groin-area sweat you produce.

To combat excessive sweating “down there,” consider using antiperspiarnt or a moisture absorbing powder. Applying a talc-free body powder or baking soda in the area after you shower to help absorb any excess moisture. Because apocrine glands secrete proteins, you can get odors “down there” when you sweat a lot.

Excessive amounts of hair trap sweat and odor, so keeping your hair trimmed “down there” can help to keep you clean and dry.

Tip: Groin, crotch and butt sweat don’t just cause unwanted moisture and foul odor, they also lead to painful chafing. Here’s a few tips to avoid thigh chafing.

Why do my hands sweat so much for no reason?

The sweat glands on your hands are controlled by your nervous system. That’s why your hands tend to sweat more when you’re nervous, excited, anxious, or stressed. Your emotions trigger these sweat glands to start working. So if you sweat a lot on your hands, you’re probably really prone to nervous sweating. It’s basically a fight-or-flight response.

Unfortunately, that means that you probably get clammy hands at the worst possible times, which can be totally embarrassing. (After all, it doesn’t get much worse than profusely sweating from your hands on a first date or when you’re meeting important people.)

Sweaty hands getting you down? Here are a few tips and remedies for sweaty hands that might help.

Why do I sweat more than I used to?

If you’re sweating more than you used to, it’s most likely caused by a change in your hormones. For example, teenagers sweat a lot more than kids. But once puberty ends, the excessive sweating usually ends too.

For women, things such as pregnancy, their menstrual cycle, and menopause can all cause excessive sweating. For example, when you’re pregnant, it increases your hormone levels, metabolism, and blood flow. All of these things can increase your internal body temperature, causing you to sweat more. Some women even experience excess sweating after pregnancy, as their body’s hormones readjust. The same type of thing happens when you’re in menopause or have your period.

Basically, more hormones = more sweat. Unfortunately, any medication you’re taking to keep your hormones in check — including birth control — can also cause you to sweat more.

If your diet has recently changed, it could also be the reason you’re sweating more than you used to. In this case, you might notice that you start sweating after eating — probably almost immediately. Consider adding more fruits and veggies to your diet and avoiding food that’s harder to digest — such as red meat. Alcohol and caffeine can also cause your body to produce more sweat, so try replacing alcoholic and caffeinated beverages with water. Drinking water regularly helps regulate your body temperature, which in turn, reduces the amount of sweat your body produces.

Are Medications Causing Excessive Sweating?

In some cases, the medications you take can cause excessive sweating. For the most part, the medications that cause people to sweat a lot are painkillers, depression medications, hormonal meds, and those for chronic heart failure. So if you’re taking any of these, and you noticed that your excessive sweating problems started after you began taking them, you might want to talk to your doctor to see if there’s an alternative medication that you could take — hopefully one that won’t make you sweat a lot. If you aren’t sure whether or not excessive sweating is a side effect of one of your medications, look for the term “diaphoresis.” This is the rather inconvenient term that basically means your medication may make you sweat like a pig in heat.

Does Diabetes Cause Excess Sweating?

Diabetes can cause you to sweat more than you normally would. If your sugar levels are elevated for too long, it can damage some of your nerves. If the nerves connected to your sweat glands are damaged, it can cause you to sweat more than normal. However, for many people with diabetes, the amount of excessive sweat they produce is more related to their weight. It’s common for people carrying around excess weight to develop diabetes. Unfortunately, carrying around a few extra pounds also means your body has to work more, which results in more sweat.

Once you know the reason for your excessive sweating, it’s a lot easier to find techniques, remedies and treatments that help you stop sweating so much.

Is embarrassing sweat getting in the way of life? We get it, that’s why we developed a handful of sweat-stopping products that can reduce unwanted sweat and restore confidence. Check them out here.

Article Updated July 10, 2019

Axillary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the armpits. It’s uncomfortable, frustrating, demoralizing, and can profoundly affect the quality of life. It’s not always easy to say how much excess sweating is “too much” – it’s different from patient to patient, but there are a few signs you should watch for that may mean you could use some advice from a doctor. A few are listed below.

4 Signs It’s Time to See a Doctor About Your Sweaty Underarms

  • 1. Nothing Else is Working
  • 2. You’re Frequently Sweating Through Your Clothes
  • 3. You’re Constantly Worried About Armpit Sweat
  • 4. Your Quality of Life is Suffering

To an outside observer, sweaty armpits may seem like no big deal – just a cosmetic inconvenience with no serious side effects. But axillary hyperhidrosis sufferers know their sweat can wreck everything from first dates to major work presentations. In fact, from the pit stains to the stench and embarrassment, sweaty underarms can take over your life unless you take control of them.

But you’re not alone and you’re not helpless – you have a number of options to help you get sweaty pits under control and get back to living your best life. Keep reading for a guide to how to treat your sweaty underarms, along with signs to look for that you might need to talk with your doctor about axillary hyperhidrosis treatment.

What is Axillary Hyperhidrosis?

People who suffer from axillary hyperhidrosis sweat like crazy under their arms – in fact, they can sweat up to five times more than is needed to regulate their body temperature. The causes of axillary hyperhidrosis aren’t super clear, but we do know that up to 3 percent of the population suffers from hyperhidrosis in some form.

Axillary hyperhidrosis is considered a form of primary hyperhidrosis, which means it is a medical condition in and of itself, and not a side effect of something else, like an underlying medical condition or a medication. There is some indication that primary axillary hyperhidrosis is genetic, so if you have family members who show symptoms, chances are you may, too. Axillary hyperhidrosis often begins around adolescence, but some people may not see symptoms until their mid-20s.

4 Signs It’s Time to See a Doctor About Your Sweaty Underarms

Let’s explore in more detail each of the signs that it may be time to see a doctor about treatment for your profuse sweating.

1. Nothing Else Is Working

You’ve tried everything you can think of in terms of life hacks and over-the-counter options to stop axillary hyperhidrosis, but nothing seems to be working. Rather than continuing to go it alone, this may be a good opportunity to consult with your dermatologist about how to take your treatments for axillary hyperhidrosis to the next level.

2. You’re Frequently Sweating Through Your Clothes

Whether you’re sweating through undershirts or wringing out your socks during your lunch break, constantly changing into dry, clean clothes can be stressful and exhausting. If you’re feeling like you need to carry around an extra suitcase full of backup clothes, you may benefit from talking to your doctor about appropriate hyperhidrosis treatment options for you.

3. You’re Constantly Worried About Your Underarm Sweating

Non-stop worry about sweat stains and armpit odor can be exhausting. If you’re spending crazy amounts of mental and physical energy trying to anticipate and prepare for sweat events, or you shower multiple times a day and constantly shopping for the best deodorant, you may be at a point where you need to ask for some outside help.

4. Your Quality of Life is Suffering

If you’ve reached the point where you’ve either severely limited or stopped your favorite social and professional activities altogether, you may need some advice or assistant from your doctor. Many people report that they avoid going out in public, socializing with friends, or volunteering for bigger professional projects out of fear of embarrassment related to their axillary hyperhidrosis. Ultimately, this can lead to reduced self-esteem, lack of confidence, social anxiety, and even loss of concentration or engagement at work. If this describes your situation, it’s a good time to get help from your doctor for how to sweat less.

How Axillary Hyperhidrosis is Diagnosed

Typically, a dermatologist is the best physician to diagnose and treat underarm hyperhidrosis. These skin docs are usually the most familiar with the condition and hyperhidrosis therapy. Depending on your insurance coverage, you may need to start with your primary care physician, who likely can give you a referral to a dermatologist.

It’s hard for a doctor to actually watch you sweat during an office visit, so your doctor may ask you lots of questions to help get a feel for the full impact of your symptoms. You should be prepared to discuss your medical history, including a list of any medications and supplements you take. Your doctor will probably also ask about whether anyone else in your family shows similar symptoms, when your symptoms started, whether symptoms are occasional or continuous, and what factors either aggravate or seem to help your symptoms.

It’s pretty gross, but your doctor might also want to look at some of your clothing to measure sweat stains – that can be a good clue to the severity of your armpit hyperhidrosis. For example, sweat stains of less than five centimeters in diameter may be considered normal, while stains up to 10 centimeters may indicate mild hyperhidrosis. Severe hyperhidrosis can make sweat stains up to 20 centimeters in diameter.

In some cases, your doctor may use gravimetric measurement to assess your situation – this is a more quantitative method that uses pre-weighed filter paper applied to the skin of your underarm area, then weighed so that the rate of sweat production can be calculated. In addition to this measure, a doctor will take into consideration your description of how your symptoms are affecting your overall quality of life and impairing any daily activities. An especially good tool for this is the Hyperhidrosis Disease Severity Scale offered by the International Hyperhidrosis Society. Some physicians may also use the Dermatology Quality of Life Index – or some other symptom severity scale.

Your doctor may also order lab tests of blood or urine or other tests to make sure your sweating isn’t caused by an underlying medical condition like diabetes or an overactive thyroid. In general, once your doctor has decided that axillary hyperhidrosis is your issue, he or she will start you on minimally invasive treatment and go from there.

Axillary Hyperhidrosis Treatment Options

There is no silver-bullet axillary hyperhidrosis cure, but you can treat it with several different over-the-counter options, including topical agents, or clinical procedures for hyperhidrosis relief. You can also combine various options to find the best effect for your body chemistry. If nothing else works, you do also have surgery options that you can discuss with your doctor.


Topical antiperspirants are often the first line of defense for hyperhidrosis relief. They work by forming a temporary “plug” that prevents your underarm sweat glands from releasing sweat. You can find antiperspirants in a broad range of strengths – even clinical or prescription strength – so you may need to experiment to find the one that works best for you.

In addition, you must use antiperspirants correctly to feel their full benefits. Applying an antiperspirant at night is essential – doing so gives it time to work overnight, when axillary sweat glands are least active, in order to block sweat glands and keep you from pouring sweat the next day.

Typically, a doctor will advise that you start with an over-the-counter antiperspirant to test its efficacy. If that works for you, then great. If not, you can advance to a clinical-strength antiperspirant – and if that still fails to control excessive underarm sweating, your doctor may prescribe a prescription-strength antiperspirant for you.


At some point, your physician may recommend botulinum toxin injections (Botox) as treatment of hyperhidrosis. With this method, an experienced medical professional will inject Botox into your underarm area in order to reduce sweating. This method has proven effective in many cases – in fact, one clinical study showed that 81 percent of patients treated with Botox injections experienced a 50-percent or higher reduction in excessive underarm sweating. Some patients saw a dramatic reduction in sweating that lasted up to a year.


Approved by the FDA in 2011, miraDry is an option that uses thermal energy to destroy sweat glands in the underarm area. Patient studies suggest miraDry has proven largely successful as a treatment for axillary hyperhidrosis, but it has not yet been approved for use anywhere else on the body. Clinical trials have shown an average sweat-reduction efficacy rate of 82 percent.

Surgery or Other Medical Procedures

When all other options have been exhausted, some physicians may recommend dermatologic surgery or an outpatient procedure in order to treat your axillary hyperhidrosis. There are a variety of surgical procedures you could try – they include curettage, liposuction, excision, and laser surgical procedures.

No matter the technique, all of these procedures are designed to surgically remove sweat glands from your underarm area. Each treatment can be performed with a local anesthetic as an outpatient procedure. In extremely severe cases, your doctor may discuss with you a thoracic sympathectomy, which is a much more complicated and risky procedure. Dermatologists have seen positive results with many of these techniques, but you should fully discuss with your doctor all of the potential risks and possibly severe adverse events before you decide if any of these procedures make sense for you.

Try Sweatblock

Many people seeking to treat hyperhidrosis have found success by using Sweatblock Clinical Strength Antiperspirant. While Sweatblock is available in several formulations, its base product is a clinical-strength-antiperspirant formula that is pre-soaked on a soft towelette wipe. Users simply swipe a Sweatblock wipe under their arms at night before going to sleep, and the trade-secret formula helps keep underarms dry and comfortable for up to seven days after use – and with no skin irritation. For many users, Sweatblock has proven effective even when many other antiperspirants have come up short.

Understanding Axillary Hyperhidrosis

If not effectively treated, axillary hyperhidrosis can take a serious toll on the quality of life, keeping people from reaching their full potential and, in worst cases, leading to mental health concerns like anxiety and depression. But the good news is that many treatment options are available to help people manage excessive underarm sweating. You might find exactly what you need with one of the remedies outlined here, or even with a combination of tactics.

Ultimately, the best way to manage your axillary hyperhidrosis is a personal choice, but you should make it after talking with a doctor you trust. It’s always best to seek the counsel of a qualified medical professional before starting any clinical procedure or surgery for axillary hyperhidrosis.

cold sweats

It sounds like an oxymoron, but breaking out in a case of the cold sweats is a real problem for many people. While normal sweating is part of the body’s normal cooling response, breaking out in a cold sweat is usually due to sudden fear or stress, which kicks in your body’s “fight-or-flight” stress response. While cold sweats by themselves aren’t usually a health risk, they can be a sign of more serious health issues.

Top 8 Causes of Cold Sweats

  • 1. General Anxiety
  • 2. Hypoglycemia
  • 3. Heart Attack
  • 4. Hormonal Changes
  • 5. Pain or Shock
  • 6. Infection
  • 7. Alcohol or Drug Withdrawal
  • 8. Medication Effects

People in the middle of a cold sweat often have clammy skin and report feeling cold; they may also seem unusually pale. Cold sweats can break out on your palms, armpits and even the soles of your feet.

What Causes Cold Sweats?

The medical term for sudden, excessive sweating is diaphoresis. This kind of sweat isn’t caused by heat or exertion. It’s set apart from regular sweating by what the person is doing when the sweating cranks up.

Under normal conditions, your body produces sweat in order to cool down your body temperature – typically in response to environmental factors like the temperature on a hot summer day or when exercising. But with cold sweats, your sweat glands are being abnormally activated by something other than heat or activity, such as your built-in stress response.

While the specific details are all over the map, most cold sweats can be traced back to our ancient fight or flight response, which readied our ancestors’ bodies to either battle it out with an enemy or get the heck out. The fight or flight response still makes us break out in cold sweats today, but it’s more likely to be triggered by a traffic jam or a big presentation rather than marauding invaders or wooly mammoths. When you’re in fight or flight mode, your heart rate speeds up, you start breathing more shallowly, your mouth goes dry and your sweat glands open up — and then start the sweat pouring. Since you’re usually not fighting for your life when this happens, it can be a little embarrassing.

Top 8 Causes of Cold Sweats

Depending on your unique physiology and stress response, cold sweats could be triggered by a variety of different things, but the following list represents some of the most common causes.

1. General Anxiety

A panic attack, generalized social anxiety, or other types of anxiety are some of the worst offenders for triggering a cold, clammy sweat. If this is something that happens to you, or you experience levels of anxiety that truly feel overwhelming, make sure to talk with your doctor about treatment options for the root cause of your cold sweats.

Cold sweats related to anxiety are often a result of the stress that your anxiety is putting on your body, which often keeps oxygen from getting to your brain and other vital organs. This kind of anxiety disorder can cause long-term health hazards and be extremely limiting to your quality of life, so it’s something you definitely want to talk with your doctor about.

2. Hypoglycemia

When someone’s blood sugar levels drop to well below normal, that can trigger a cold sweat. This is another serious health condition, especially for people with diabetes. When the blood sugar drops dramatically, your brain processes this change as a dangerous drop in oxygen and triggers the same response: cold sweats. Most of the time, drinking fruit juice or eating something with a small amount of natural sugar can help get the blood sugar back up to a healthier level.

3. Heart Attack

Sometimes people having a heart attack break out into a cold sweat – they also typically experience chest pain, intense pressure in the chest or upper body, shortness of breath, and have waxy, clammy skin. If you find yourself — or anyone else — with sudden chest discomfort, get medical attention immediately.

4. Hormonal Changes

Hormone levels can fluctuate, especially for people in menopause or perimenopause – this can sometimes lead to hot flashes, cold sweats, and even night sweats. The same happens during pregnancy and during puberty, for both boys and girls. In addition, thyroid disorders can lead to hormonal imbalances that can send your sweat glands for a loop. Along with sudden, uncontrollable hot flashes and cold sweats are one of the telltale signs of menopause.

5. Pain or Shock

When we suffer intense pain due to an accident or severe injury — or even a migraine — cold sweats are pretty common. If the profuse sweating comes with low blood pressure and a high heart rate, you might be dealing with a case of shock – and you should seek medical care immediately. When you’re suffering from shock, you’re getting dangerously low blood flow to your vital organs, including the brain.

If you’re offering first aid to someone who might be showing symptoms of shock, recognizing the cold sweat is an important clue, and you should get emergency medical help immediately. In the meantime, having the person lie flat on his back while elevating the feet can help. Ultimately, treating the injury itself and managing the symptoms associated with shock can bring the cold sweats under control.

6. Infection

Sometimes, if your body is fighting off an infection – especially something severe like tuberculosis or HIV – sweaty and cold, clammy skin can be a sign of your body’s response to that infection. An infection typically kicks your immune system into high alert, leading to a cold sweat. Any infection that spurs a fever can cause hot flushes and sweats, but tuberculosis is the infection most often associated with sweating at night. In addition, sepsis, the most severe type of infection, can often lead to shock, which usually brings with it a case of the cold sweats.

7. Alcohol or Drug Withdrawal

For anyone going through the process of stopping alcohol or drug use, there are often unpleasant side effects. One common side effect is breaking into a sudden cold sweat – and these symptoms can set in quickly, as fast as four to 12 hours after the last dose of drugs or alcohol, according to some estimates. The body’s response to a lack of neurochemicals is to trigger symptoms that sound a lot like a bad case of the flu-like excessive perspiring, confusion, insomnia, nausea, body aches, heart palpitations, and more.

8. Medication Effects

A wide collection of medications, including hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, powerful pain relievers, and steroids can sometimes cause people to break out in a cold sweat. Some you might be familiar with include albuterol, hydrocodone, insulin, and even naproxen sodium. If you suspect that your cold sweats are connected to a medication you’re taking, you should reach out to your doctor for a blood test to see if you can get your dosage or the medication itself adjusted.

Cold Sweats vs. Night Sweats: What’s the Difference?

The term night sweats refers specifically to a condition also known as sleep hyperhidrosis. It can leave your jammies drenched and your sheets in a puddle, but it’s unrelated to the core temperature of your body heating up while you sleep. Sometimes night sweats can be a sign of a serious medical condition, so if sweat is plaguing your dreams, you should definitely reach out to your doctor to discuss.

For example, sometimes obstructive sleep apnea (a narrowing of the throat walls, which restricts breathing during sleep) can cause cold sweats at night. In fact, those who suffer from sleep apnea are three times more likely than the general population to have cold sweats while sleeping. Sometimes night sweats also come along with GERD – gastroesophageal reflux disease. In addition, some cancers, especially lymphoma and leukemia, trigger nightly cold sweats as an early sign of the disease.

Night sweats typically result in a layer of sweat over your entire body, while cold sweats are usually more localized – like on your palms, underarms, and feet.

Treatment Options

As it turns out, there’s no specific treatment for cold sweats. When it comes to relieving a cold sweat, your best bet is to try to address its root cause. If you break out in a cold sweat because of anxiety, for example, you may find relief with options like meditation and yoga that help reduce your stress. Your overall goal is to make sure you’re getting plenty of oxygen to your brain, which meditation and yoga both support by forcing you to focus on your breathing. Cognitive behavior therapy can also be extremely helpful in addressing the areas of your life that trigger the fight or flight reaction.

In addition, getting regular, daily exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help with how your body processes stress. In other words, the perspiration itself isn’t necessarily the problem – it may be an indicator of a deeper issue. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water.

While you’re working out your causes for cold sweats, you can do simple things to help with sudden cold sweats. Keep your skin clean and dry, shower regularly, and maybe even adjust your diet. Some foods and beverages, like caffeine, for example, can make people sweat more, so minimizing or removing them from your diet completely may help. You may want to avoid alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and/or spicy foods if you notice excessive perspiration after eating or drinking them. It might not be fun to cut those from your diet, but it’s at least worth a shot if it can keep you from turning into a clammy puddle. You may need to talk to your doctor about adjusting medication or correcting hormone imbalances if you believe those are contributing to your frequent cold sweats.

It’s also a good idea to invest in an antiperspirant you can count on to help control your cold sweats and any odor they might bring with them. You can apply an antiperspirant at night before you go to sleep so that it has a chance to work all night.

Treating Your Cold Sweats

The cold sweats can be annoying, and also a little scary if you think they’re signaling a broader health issue. Don’t be afraid to talk with your doctor if you find yourself breaking out into constant cold sweats without an obvious trigger.

Nearly everyone experiences cold sweats at some point in their lives, and there are several causes of cold sweats that are not emergency-related – like hormonal changes or day-to-day anxiety. If you have a serious, ongoing issue with cold sweats, talk to your doctor to make sure there isn’t a deeper issue going on that needs to be treated.

Glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin belong to a class of medications known as anticholinergic drugs, which are often used to treat excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis. In a general sense, anticholinergic medications block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine within the peripheral and central nervous systems. Essentially, this means that they impede the ability of the sympathetic nerves to communicate with the body’s sweat glands and prevent them from producing sweat.

Pros and Cons of Glycopyrrolate and Oxybutynin

Before starting a course of either medication, you should carefully consider the pros and cons of each. While these medications can be effective, be aware that there are also many negative side effects. Oral medications are typically prescribed when other treatments have failed to show significant positive results. Though no oral medications are currently FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of hyperhidrosis, several have a long history of off-label use for that specific purpose.

Pros of Glycopyrrolate and Oxybutynin

  • Available in a convenient pill form.
  • Oxybutynin is also available as a topical gel and as a transdermal patch.
  • Ability to scale dosage – this allows you to experiment to find the right dose that’s effective for stopping excessive sweating while leading to the fewest side effects.
  • Oxybutynin is relatively inexpensive medications, accessible for a wide variety of people.
  • Effective in preventing plantar (foot), palmar (hand) and axillary (armpit) hyperhidrosis. In fact, one study reports that 70 percent of patients saw decreased sweating symptoms related to axillary and palmar hyperhidrosis, while 90 percent reported improvement in plantar hyperhidrosis symptoms.

Cons of Glycopyrrolate and Oxybutynin

  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fast, weak pulse or increased heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of taste
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry eye
  • Nasal congestion
  • Decreased mental alertness
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Eye pain
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Flushing or redness in the face and skin
  • Constipation or urinary retention
  • Hallucinations

Oral medications are usually most effective when used as adjunctive therapy with other treatment options, like topical medicines and antiperspirants, in order to decrease hyperhidrosis symptoms. People who usually find the most success with oral hyperhidrosis medications are those who experience excessive sweating all over the body.

Before prescribing an oral medication, your physician may encourage you to try other remedies, such as Botox injections, local permanent treatment options, or topical creams. Oral medications, however, can be especially helpful when the cause of excessive sweating is identified, but cannot be eliminated or remedied – for example, if an existing medication regimen causes excessive sweating but cannot be changed or abandoned without causing bigger issues.

What You Need to Know About Each Medication

While not specifically developed to treat hyperhidrosis, anticholinergic drugs like glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin are often prescribed for this purpose. This class of drug binds with acetylcholine, thus preventing it from being used throughout the body. Receptors are located throughout the autonomic nervous system and expand through the whole body – resulting in a system-wide, rather than localized, effect.

Here’s the kicker: These medications also block receptors completely unrelated to the sweat glands and perspiration, which can lead to unintended and unwanted side effects. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about each of these oral medications.


Glycopyrrolate is the most commonly prescribed anticholinergic for excessive sweating. It’s primarily prescribed to treat ulcers and gastric secretions in adults and drooling in children, since it decreases stomach acid and saliva production. In addition, it reduces the body’s ability to sweat. Glycopyrrolate in oral form is the most commonly prescribed anticholinergic drug for hyperhidrosis treatment – mainly because it causes fewer central nervous system side effects. People typically take glycopyrrolate as tablets or a liquid, by mouth, either two or three times per day on an empty stomach – usually one hour before or two hours after a meal. Appropriate dosage is based on your specific medical condition, documented response to treatment and body weight.

Before beginning a glycopyrrolate dose, your doctor will ask if you have ever had any of the following: glaucoma, difficulty urinating, enlargement of the prostate, ulcerative colitis, high blood pressure, overactive thyroid, coronary artery disease, disorders of the nervous system, or kidney or liver disease. In addition, you should notify your physician if you are pregnant, think you might become pregnant, or are currently breastfeeding.

To reduce the incidence of possible glycopyrrolate side effects, your physician may recommend that you begin taking it at a relatively low dosage and gradually increase as your body acclimates to the new medication. You should not increase the dosage or frequency of glycopyrrolate without consulting your doctor – doing so won’t improve your hyperhidrosis, but it will increase your chances of suffering adverse events and side effects.

The glycopyrrolate drug class has shown a high rate of effectiveness when studied – for example, one clinical trial has reported that up to 90 percent of patients taking glycopyrrolate saw a reduction in hyperhidrosis symptoms. Unfortunately, up to one third had to abandon therapy because of adverse side effects, which have been reported by up to 80 percent of participants taking these oral medications as part of clinical studies.

Glycopyrrolate can negatively interact with a wide variety of other medications, so make sure to tell your doctor about any prescription, over-the-counter or holistic medications you are currently taking before starting a round of glycopyrrolate. Depending on the potential combinations, your physician may choose to either change your dosage or monitor you carefully for side effects.

Glycopyrrolate dose helps reduce sweating by systematically reducing all body secretions, which can result in some annoying and uncomfortable side effects. For many people, glycopyrrolate side effects show up as minor irritations that can be mitigated through measures like drinking more water (which may increase urinary frequency), eating mints, or using eye drops. However, these side effects persist over time or grow worse, you should contact your doctor immediately.

While rare, the following side effects of glycopyrrolate can also occur and are especially dangerous. You should consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Urination problems: difficulty urinating or inability to urinate
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

Anticholinergics are systemic medications, which means they cannot target any one particular area on the body in which sweating is most profuse; instead, they decrease sweating over the entire surface of the body, no matter whether that’s needed. If you’re not careful, this overall reduction in the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating can put you at risk of overheating. In essence, the sweating mechanism is turned off, which dramatically decreases the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.

Athletes and those who work outdoors should be especially careful when they take anticholinergics – and for these reasons, these types of patients may be considered ineligible for use of oral medication for the treatment of excessive sweating. The same is true for people who have a natural tendency to overheat. Taking these medications can dramatically hinder the body’s ability to cool itself down, leading to a dangerous situation.

In addition, the high cost of glycopyrrolate for sweating is a limiting factor for some people.


Oxybutynin chloride is often prescribed with elderly patients to treat urinary incontinence, overactive bladder or frequent urination. It is the second most commonly used anticholinergic drug to treat hyperhidrosis. Ideally, the lowest possible dose of oxybutynin should be used in order to minimize the risk of adverse side effects.

Oxybutynin tablets are often prescribed – both immediate and extended-release – as well as oxybutynin gel, oxybutynin syrup, or even an oxybutynin transdermal patch. No matter its form, oxybutynin is recommended to take with water on an empty stomach, though some physicians insist that patients with incontinence take the medication with food or milk in order to decrease the chances of an upset stomach. If your oxybutynin is prescribed as a time-release oral medication, be sure to follow the directions carefully. Swallow the tablet whole – do not crush, break or chew it, as doing so will adjust the time-release formulation. Drink lots of water or any other liquid of your choice. Also, be sure to take your oxybutynin tablet at the same time each day.

Oxybutynin dosage will vary from patient to patient, but usually hovers around 5 or 10 mg taken two or three times per day for adults and children over 12. The dosage rarely exceeds 30 mg per day. It is very important to use oxybutynin medication only as directed – no more, no less. Refrain from operating motor vehicles or other large machinery until you have an idea of how your body tolerates the oxybutynin drug.

One important consideration is that oxybutynin effects can cause a serious allergic reaction known as angioedema, which is life-threatening and requires immediate medical care. If you experience any of the following adverse reactions after taking oxybutynin, call your doctor or emergency medical care immediately: chest tightness or trouble breathing, body rash, itching, intense swelling of the face (including lips, throat, tongue, eyelids), hands, legs, feet or genitals.

Oxybutynin has been known to cause a negative reaction when combined with the following drugs and compounds: potassium, glycopyrrolate, donepezil, bupropion, tiotropium, secretin human, glycopyrronium tosylate, rivastigmine, ketoconazole, and galantamine. Tell your physician if you are taking any of these medications. Your doctor may choose to either change your dose of oxybutynin, watch you carefully for side effects of oxybutynin, or modify other medications you take while you are taking oxybutynin.

Certain pre-existing medical conditions can affect your body’s acclimation to oxybutynin, especially with elderly patients. Any of the following conditions have the potential to react negatively with oxybutynin: dementia, overactive thyroid, enlarged prostate, heart disease, hypertension, intestinal or stomach problems, Parkinson’s disease, toxemia of pregnancy, urinary bladder blockage, or glaucoma. Make sure to tell your doctor if you are currently suffering from any of these conditions.

Patients are more likely to see anticholinergic side effects right after beginning a course of oxybutynin or after an increase in dosage. Any of these symptoms should be reported to a physician as soon as possible – your doctor can help you determine whether your side effects are severe enough to need medical attention or if they will likely go away as your body acclimates to the new medication.

In addition, oxybutynin and alcohol are a dangerous combination; oxybutynin exacerbates the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants like antihistamines, tranquilizers, sedatives, muscle relaxers, and some prescription pain medications.

New Topical Applications Available

One of the biggest drawbacks to any oral medication for the treatment of hyperhidrosis is its systemic nature – it can’t be localized, and it often creates side effects that affect the entire body. However, new treatment options featuring glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin are now being developed and marketed that are topical in nature, which allow patients to concentrate treatment within a particular, localized problem area.

While topical creams containing glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin are now available, their efficacy is still under review. Some early indications show that the creams may have trouble penetrating the outer skin barrier. In addition to topical creams, a new product called Qbrexza features glycopyrronium tosylate within a medicated wipe that can be used to topically treat hyperhidrosis. It is typically used once per day to prevent excessive sweating.

In addition, there is some indication that topical treatments like Qbrexza can be used in conjunction with iontophoresis treatments, which use low-level electrical currents to push medications – usually anticholinergics – through the skin of a particular body area submerged in water. These treatments have shown best results when treating excessive sweating of the hands and feet.

Future Studies and Uses

While no cure is yet available, treatments for hyperhidrosis continue to improve. Excessive sweating affects 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population, and medical experts are still trying to understand the causes of hyperhidrosis. Many current treatments, including the use of anticholinergics, can be invasive and ineffective. However, as this condition is further studied, researchers will be able to develop targeted and more effective treatments.

There is a great deal of promising research on the horizon for those who suffer from hyperhidrosis. Emerging treatments and technologies have great potential to make a profound difference in quality of life. For example, topical medications have great promise in treating hyperhidrosis without many of the negative anticholinergic effects experienced when taken orally. The theory is that being able to apply a topical anticholinergic to a local area will stop or dramatically reduce sweating in that area without the drawbacks associated with an oral dose, which affects the entire body.

Many studies and intended future use of both glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin are on the horizon. One of the most encouraging is the planned use of glycopyrrolate in a topical cream that would be used to directly target the eccrine glands – it would likely include a 1 percent or 2 percent glycopyrrolate suspension. Oxybutynin also is currently being studied in connection with topical applications that would be more effective than current options. In preliminary studies, glycopyrrolate has shown promising results in the higher 2 percent suspension with very few side effects. Other studies have specifically explored a 2 percent glycopyrrolate pad, finding that some participants reported sweat reduction of up to roughly 62 percent. While existing studies have been small, a series of larger, double-blind studies could help further understanding of topical products’ potential to improve quality of life for people with excessive sweating.

In addition, while Qbrexza currently is indicated only for underarm use, additional research could have implications for additional hyperhidrosis treatment throughout the body.

Other Research and Product Possibilities

Along with various topical formulations, researchers are currently working to develop next-generation, non-injection Botox treatments for addressing plantar (foot), axillary (underarm) and palmar (hand) hyperhidrosis. In addition, the FDA-approved MiraDry is a medical device indicated for the treatment of underarm hyperhidrosis. This treatment involves heating the skin to the point that sweat glands are destroyed. Several other devices also are under development that employ various methods for heating the skin to destroy sweat glands.

Another new technology is fractional microneedle radiofrequency treatment, which sends energy into the reticular dermis – the lowest layer of the skin – without harming the epidermis, or the skin’s outer layer. FMR has been widely used to treat wrinkles and acne scars, and early studies show that it has potential to address hyperhidrosis as well. Early results indicate that many people undergoing treatment show significant improvement as soon as two months.

Lasers may also offer some benefit in the future for hyperhidrosis sufferers. Specifically, the 1064-nm Nd-YAG laser has potential, particularly when tested against underarm hyperhidrosis. In some studies, as many as 70 percent of participants showed improvement in self-reported assessments, while physicians’ assessments revealed upwards of 80 percent of participants showing improvement. With further study and refinement, this kind of therapy could be especially effective.

Additionally, ultrasound, which focuses ultrasonic energy within a localized area, is a new focus of interest and further study. In particular, the VASER ultrasound has been shown to improve symptoms for up to six months, but no data for longer time periods is currently available. Early results are encouraging, though more research and study are needed to determine exactly how effective various ultrasound methods may be in treating hyperhidrosis symptoms.

Treating Hyperhidrosis

Today, no cure for hyperhidrosis exists, but further research, medical knowledge, and understanding may expand to the point where a cure is within reach. Above all, scientists must understand the physiology of hyperhidrosis and how various drugs impact that physiology. Doing so can help lead to better therapies that are more effective with fewer side effects. Because hyperhidrosis is at least partly hereditary, understanding its underlying genetic sequence may also reveal additional clues for how best to prevent, treat, or cure the condition. Thankfully, as hyperhidrosis continues to garner awareness and attention, more researchers and medical professionals can get behind exploring new ways to improve quality of life for those with the condition.

If you sweat excessively and haven’t been able to find a treatment that works, the next logical step is to visit with your doctor. At this point, the physician may prescribe oral anticholinergic medicines to decrease the overall amount of sweat produced by your body. Glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin are the two most commonly used anticholinergic agents to treat hyperhidrosis.

Overall, medicines like glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin can be effective components of a comprehensive treatment plan for people with hyperhidrosis, though be prepared for negative side effects. If you’ve been prescribed one of these drugs, the information in this post can help you better understand how each medication works and what to expect in terms of potential side effects. And, as always, make sure you are working closely with your physician to manage your hyperhidrosis symptoms. Your doctor can help you further understand the full pros and cons of using systemic anticholinergic drugs for your specific situation.

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: 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!