Are you afraid to raise your arms? Do you often wear a coat or jacket to hide your sweaty armpits– even when it’s hot? Is your excessive armpit sweat always on your mind? If so, you’re among the millions of people who want to know why– and how– to stop sweaty underarms.
Why Do Armpits Sweat So Much?
Apocrine sweat glands are the real culprits when it comes to armpit sweat. Apocrine glands are found in high concentrations in the armpits, the groin, and areas around the nipples and breasts. Apocrine glands are a dual threat: Not only are they the cause for embarrassing and excessive underarm sweating, but the sweat from these glands also smells bad when it comes into contact with bacteria lying in wait on your skin. Soaked armpits and BO (body odor) are traveling companions. Fortunately, both can be controlled or eliminated.
Profuse armpit sweating can be caused by several factors:
Whether it’s a job interview, first date, or an important business presentation, anxiety can cause nervous sweating, especially under the arms. If you are embarrassed by your sweating, that can make you even more nervous– which leads to more sweating. It’s a vicious cycle. When the stress or anxiety ends, so does the excessive armpit sweat.
Hot, Humid Environments
What happens to us on hot, sweltering days? Tidal waves of sweat wash over our us, making armpit sweat even worse. Like automatic sprinklers, your sweat glands turn on full blast until you cool down. Even though it’s healthy and normal, visible sweat is often embarrassing.
When you work out or engage in any strenuous exercise, eccrine sweat glands work overtime to stabilize body temperature. Your hypothalamus, which acts as your body’s thermometer, signals your sweat glands to secrete increased amounts of salty, smelly perspiration. Your heart rate increases, your blood pressure spikes, and you start breathing heavily. This elevated activity tells your sweat glands to pump harder.
Your diet matters– you really are what you eat, as the saying goes. Your eating habits can have a significant impact on your sweating.
When you’re pregnant, hormone levels go bonkers, your metabolism can go wacky, and your blood pressure climbs. This causes your body to produce more sweat. But not to worry– in nine months, these bodily functions should normalize.
Ladies, menopause plays havoc with your hormones, especially estrogen. The most common symptoms of hormonal changes are hot flashes and increased sweating. As far as hormones are concerned, menopause is a lot like pregnancy and will normalize in time.
Two things frequently happen to people with diabetes. First, diabetics tend to be overweight. Second, diabetic neuropathy caused by higher than normal levels of glucose can occur. Normal nerve function can be adversely affected if blood sugar levels stay high for too long. These two physiological factors dramatically increase the likelihood of increased sweating.
Hyperhidrosis is a medical situation known for excessive and uncontrolled sweating, usually with no discernible cause. Axillary hyperhidrosis, the medical term for excessive armpit sweat, is profuse and uncontrolled sweating of the underarms. While it’s a physiological condition, people who have it affirm that it also negatively affects their quality of life– physically, socially, emotionally and psychologically.
9 Ways to Stop Sweaty Armpits:
Knowing what causes armpit sweat is all well and good. But knowing how to stop sweating is even better. Most of these remedies can be accomplished at home without seeing a doctor or undergoing an invasive treatment. A few remedies will require a doctor’s care. Read on and see which remedies may be right for you.
1. Stay Hydrated to Reduce Underarm Sweating
Drinking lots of cool water throughout the day will help maintain your body’s internal temperature and control the sweating mechanism. Ample hydration can short circuit the body’s nervous system response to factors that trigger sweating by keeping body temperature lower, which in turn, reduces sweat production.
How much water should you drink? As much as it takes to prevent thirst, and enough so that your urine is more on the clear side than on the yellow. For some of us, this means drinking more than we’re used to. The rule of thumb, according to conventional wisdom, is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. If you know you’ll be in a situation or environment that will create more sweating, drink even more.
2. Wear Breathable Clothing
Another natural and often effective way to combat excessive sweating is found in the clothes you wear. Your choice of clothing can either increase perspiration in the underarm areas, or help you feel more comfortable and confident.
Clothing made from natural materials will help you stay cooler and avoid sweaty armpits, reducing those nasty sweat stains. Fabrics such as cotton, wool, silk, and linen weave together more loosely, enabling them to breathe. These natural fibers also absorb moisture. By keeping moisture off the skin, you can prevent sweat from mixing with the bacteria that causes a strong smell and brings unwanted attention.
On the other hand, clothing made from man-made fibers like nylon, rayon, and polyester doesn’t breathe well. These artificial materials are woven together much more tightly and actually prevent moisture from evaporating. Do we need to go into detail about what trapped heat and moisture in and around your armpits will do to your social life? Global climate change is bad enough without creating a mini-greenhouse effect in your underarms.
To be fair, there are some man-made microfiber fabrics that are designed to wick away moisture from the skin so it can evaporate more quickly. If you’re going to wear clothing made from artificial fibers, make sure it’s not going to make life more difficult.
3. Use Antiperspirant
One of the questions we hear most often is “what’s the best deodorant for sweaty armpits?” You probably already use a deodorant every day to prevent embarrassing body odor. Deodorants are a one-trick-pony, however, and only cover up the odor. While stopping odor is good, stopping sweat is better.
For that, you need more than a deodorant: You need an antiperspirant. Deodorant and antiperspirant are not the same, learn more here.
An antiperspirant containing some form of aluminum salt compound (usually aluminum chloride) can reduce underarm sweat. Antiperspirants are available in many forms, including roll-ons, sprays, and solid rub-on sticks. There are formulations specifically designed for men and for women. They are readily available in every grocery store and drug store.
The aluminum chloride (or similar) ingredient works to block sweat glands in the armpits. When aluminum chloride comes into contact with water, it combines with moisture in perspiration to create a gel-like plug that temporarily blocks the sweat glands. Since sweat cannot reach the skin’s surface, you stay dry.
Everyday antiperspirants can be an effective armpit sweat treatment for those who don’t sweat excessively. The plugs dissipate over time, so everyday antiperspirants are just that– they must be applied every day. And, be careful: You’ll want to wait a day or so after shaving your armpits, as antiperspirants can cause mild skin irritation.
4. Try a Clinical or Prescription Strength Antiperspirant
For many of us, everyday antiperspirants are just not enough. If that’s true for you and your armpits feel like a wet sauna all the time, you may want to try a prescription strength antiperspirant. These antiperspirants contain higher concentrations of aluminum chloride.
These are the strongest antiperspirants you can get without having to visit your doctor. Because clinical strength antiperspirants are more powerful, they’re an ideal solution for people who suffer from excessive armpit sweating or axillary hyperhidrosis.
5. Learn to Manage Stress and Anxiety
Stress seems to be inescapable. Public speaking, meeting new people, a job interview, family concerns, or just trying to get through traffic can cause stress, anxiety, and nervous sweating. When you become anxious, the flight responses kick in– your breathing rate increases, your heart begins to race, your mouth suddenly feels like the Mojave Desert, and– you guessed it– your sweat glands switch into overdrive.
How can we sweat less when faced with stressful situations? Try to understand what triggers your anxiety, so you can stay relaxed. Letting go of the constant need to be in control can help quiet your body’s response to anxiety.
Other important elements of stress management include proper exercise, getting enough sleep, and replacing negative thoughts with optimistic ones. You may find meditation or yoga helpful in managing anxiety. Find what works for you and your armpits will stay drier.
6. Is Your Diet to Blame for Sweaty Armpits?
Are you one of those people who finds that certain foods and beverages cause more underarm sweat? Some of the things we take into our bodies not only cause us to sweat more profusely, but they cause us to smell bad too. Among the repeat offenders are caffeinated beverages, alcoholic drinks, onions, garlic, and peppers.
It might not be too much of an exaggeration to say that the world runs on caffeine. It’s in hot morning beverages, soft drinks, energy drinks, and countless other beverages and snacks. If your morning starts with a few cups of coffee, and your day is punctuated with a popular caffeinated soft drink or two, you have an important choice to make.
Coffee and tea not only raise your internal temperature, but the caffeine they contain sends your sweat glands into high gear. Additional sources of caffeine throughout the day certainly don’t help. Spicy foods can also cause your body to pump out more sweat. Peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which can signal your sweat glands to work harder. Changing your diet can help reduce sweating.
7. Check Your Medications
If you’re sweating more than usual– not just in your armpits, but on your feet, palms, groin, neck, or thighs– you might want to reevaluate the medications you’re taking. Here’s a list of some most common medications known to cause excessive sweating.
- Migraine Medications
- Pain Relievers
- Diabetes Medication
- Asthma Inhalers
- Heartburn and Reflux Medicine
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Breast Cancer Medications
8. See Your Doctor
Unrelenting and excessive sweating may be caused by an underlying illness or condition. A visit to your doctor is the best way to determine if there’s something more than sweating occurring. Excessive sweating for men and women can be caused by heart disease, thyroid problems, hypoglycemia, leukemia, tuberculosis, and other disorders.
Hyperhidrosis is another condition responsible for excessive sweating. Primary focal hyperhidrosis affects a certain area (or areas) of the body. Excessive armpit sweating is called axillary hyperhidrosis, which is a form of primary focal hyperhidrosis.
The second form hyperhidrosis is called generalized hyperhidrosis, and it affects the entire body. This type of hyperhidrosis is often caused by an underlying illness or condition. Your doctor will be able to accurately diagnose any illnesses or condition that may be responsible for your excessive sweating.
9. Consider Other Medical Solutions
If none of the remedies we’ve discussed so far helps reduce your excessive armpit sweating, you may want to explore more expensive and invasive ways of reducing underarm sweat.
Botox (Botulinum Toxin) is best known as a treatment for reducing wrinkles. Botox can also reduce the effects of excessive sweating, especially in the armpits, by temporarily disrupting the chemical substance that signals armpit sweat glands. Botox treatments for excessive underarm sweat are temporary and must be repeated every 6 to 12 months.
Nerve-Blocking Medications for Hyperhidrosis
Some medications taken orally can block the chemicals that allow certain nerves to communicate with each other. These are called anticholinergics. The effects are similar to those achieved through Botox injections. The medication works by blocking the chemical acetylcholine in its travel to the receptors on the sweat glands. These drugs are not for everyone and they do come with unwanted side effects.
Topically applied anticholinergics, like Qbrexza (recently FDA approved), are also available for axillary hyperhidrosis.
Microwave Treatments for Excessive Sweating Symptoms
If the thought of having your armpit sweat glands microwaved (or nuked in today’s vernacular), doesn’t bother you, this approach might work. Treatments like miraDry use microwave energy to destroy the sweat glands responsible for underarm sweat. After local anesthesia is administered by your doctor, a vacuum-like hand-held device is used to pull sweat glands close to the surface of the skin. While the device cools the upper layers of your skin, the microwaves destroy the sweat glands in your underarms.
Sweat Gland Removal Surgery
Extremely severe underarm sweating may be treated by permanently removing sweat glands. The procedure requires the services of a plastic surgeon. Either a traditional surgical approach or a less invasive treatment called “suction curettage” can be used. Suction curettage is a modified form of liposuction. It’s an outpatient treatment so there’s no need to spend a night in the hospital.