General: Treatment to reduce or increase sweating varies depending on the severity of the underlying cause.
Lifestyle changes: Bathing or showering every day reduces the amount of bacteria on the skin, which may help reduce body odor.
After bathing, it is important to thoroughly dry the feet. People should also go barefoot whenever possible to help dry the feet. This helps prevent fungal infections that affect the nails or feet. Over-the-counter food powders are available to help absorb sweat. Wearing shoes and socks made of natural materials, such as cotton and leather, may help reduce sweating because they allow for better ventilation. Cotton socks may help absorb sweat from the feet. Athletic socks that wick away sweat may also be beneficial during exercise. Socks should be changed once or twice daily. Patients who have very sweaty feet should try to avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row. This gives the shoes enough time to dry.
Wearing clothing made from natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, or silk, may help reduce sweating. During exercise, fabrics that wick sweat away may also be beneficial.
Individuals who sweat excessively in response to emotional stress may benefit from relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. These therapies may help people learn how to control emotions that trigger sweating.
Avoiding or reducing the consumption of spicy foods or hot beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol (such as coffee, tea, or beer), may help prevent increased sweating.
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Some patients who sweat excessively may only need to use over-the-counter antiperspirant or deodorant. Antiperspirants block the sweat ducts under the arms, preventing sweat from reaching the skin. They are typically applied in the morning or after showering. People who experience night sweats can reapply antiperspirant before bed. Patients with more severe sweating problems may need prescription-strength antiperspirants. Although it has been suggested that the aluminum salts in antiperspirants may lead to breast cancer, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim. Antiperspirants may irritate the skin or cause the skin to become red, swollen, and itchy.
Deodorants are used to reduce or eliminate odor, but they do not reduce sweating. Deodorants are made with alcohol, which helps prevent bacteria from breaking down sweat and causing odor. Some also have fragrances to help mask the smell of body odor. Deodorants are commonly used under the arms and on the hands and feet. Many antiperspirants are also deodorants. Deodorants are generally less irritating for most people.
Iontophoresis: A procedure called iontophoresis may be used to treat excessive sweating. During the procedure, a battery-powered device delivers a low current of electricity to the area of the body that sweats a lot, such as the palms of the hands or under the arms. Iontophoresis is usually repeated every other day for 5-10 days or until sweating is reduced. Once the patient's sweating is reduced to a comfortable level, they receive fewer treatments that range from once a week to once a month. Iontophoresis can be performed at a doctor's office or a doctor can write a prescription for a home-use iontophoresis machine. Even though this technique is safe and painless, it may not be any more effective than over-the-counter antiperspirant.
Botulinum toxin (Botox®): Injections with botulinum toxin (Botox®) have been used to treat severe hyperhidrosis. The injections paralyze the nerves that signal sweating. Several injections may be necessary. The results typically last about 1-4 months.
Side effects include pain at the injection site, flu-like symptoms, headache, and upset stomach. Injections in the face may also cause the eyelids to temporarily appear droopy. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Anticholinergic drugs: Patients who experience increased sweating throughout the body may benefit from anticholinergic drugs such as glycopyrrolate (Robinul®, or Forte®). These drugs block a chemical messenger (called acetylcholine) that stimulates the sweat glands. These medications usually start to work in about two weeks.
Side effects may include constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth, loss of taste, dizziness, confusion, and decreased urinary output.
Acetaminophen: Patients who experience increased sweating as a result of a fever typically take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®). Acetaminophen should not be taken for more than three days when treating a fever. Patients should visit their healthcare providers if a fever lasts for more than three days because it may be a sign of a serious health condition, such as an infection.
Hormone replacement therapy: Hormone replacement therapy may help reduce sweating associated with menopause or low levels of testosterone in males (hypogonadism). Hormone therapy with estrogen may help alleviate menopause symptoms, including flushing and night sweats. However, according to research, patients who receive estrogen have an increased risk of stroke. Patients should talk to their healthcare providers to determine the potential health benefits and risks associated with hormone therapy. Males with hypogonadism typically receive testosterone injections to reduce symptoms.
Radioactive iodine: Patients with overactive thyroids typically take radioactive iodine by mouth. The thyroid gland absorbs this medication, which stimulates the gland to shrink. Symptoms, including increased sweating, usually start to improve within 3-6 months of treatment. However, many patients develop hypothyroidism as a result of radioactive iodine treatment. If hypothyroidism develops, patients need to take thyroxine (Euthyrox®, Levothroid®, Levoxyl®, Synthroid®, or Unithroid®) for life.
Side effects may include sore throat and mild nausea. In rare cases, the salivary glands may swell.
Surgery: Surgery may be beneficial for some patients with excessive sweating. For instance, if patients experience severe sweating that only occurs under the arms, some or all of the sweat glands may be removed.
Another surgical procedure, called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, involves cutting the nerves that signal the sweat glands to perspire. However, after the surgery, sweating may increase in other parts of the body.
Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence
Belladonna: There is currently a lack of reliable scientific evidence available for the effectiveness of belladonna for treatment of excessive perspiration. More research is needed in this area.
Avoid if allergic to belladonna or plants of the Solanaceae(nightshade) family (bell peppers, potatoes, eggplants). Avoid with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia), congestive heart failure, stomach ulcer, constipation, stomach acid reflux (serious heartburn), hiatal hernia, gastrointestinal disease, ileostomy, colostomy, fever, bowel obstruction, benign prostatic hypertrophy, urinary retention, glaucoma (narrow angle), psychotic illness, Sjögren's syndrome, dry mouth (xerostomia or salivary gland disorders), neuromuscular disorders such as myasthenia gravis, or Down's syndrome. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Traditional or theoretical uses lacking sufficient evidence
Aconite: The aconite plant grows in rocky areas. It is often found in the mountainous woodlands of many parts of Europe, especially France, Austria, Germany, and Denmark. Aconite has been suggested as a possible antiperspirant. However, until scientific studies are performed, it remains unknown if aconite is safe or effective for treatment of excessive perspiration.
Aconite is highly toxic and is not safe for human consumption. Avoid with heart disease, irregular heartbeat, hemodynamic instability (abnormal blood flow), and gastrointestinal disorders (such as ulcers, reflux esophagitis, ulcerative colitis, spastic colitis, or diverticulosis). Use cautiously with diabetes or suicidal tendencies. Avoid if younger than 18 years old due to a lack of safety evidence. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ginger: The underground stems (called rhizomes) and above ground stems of ginger have been used in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian medicine for hundreds of years. It has been suggested, but not scientifically proven, that ginger taken by mouth may help treat patients with excessive perspiration. Scientific research is needed in order to determine if this treatment is safe and effective.
Avoid if allergic to ginger or other members of the Zingiberaceaefamily (such as red ginger, shell ginger, or green cardamom). Stop two weeks before and immediately after surgery/dental/diagnostic procedures with bleeding risks. Avoid with a history of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Use cautiously with a history of ulcers, acid reflux, heart conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, blocked intestines, bleeding disorders, or gallstones. Use cautiously if taking anticoagulants. Use cautiously if driving or operating machinery. Use cautiously if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ginseng: For more than 2,000 years, the roots of this slow-growing plant have been valued in Chinese medicine. Traditionally, ginseng has been used to help reduce sweating. However, it remains unknown if this treatment is effective for the treatment of excessive perspiration because scientific studies are currently lacking in this area.
Avoid if allergic to ginseng or other plants in the Araliaceae family. Avoid with bleeding disorders, leukemia, or liver disorders. Avoid if taking anticoagulants or anti-platelet drugs. Avoid consuming ginseng in combination with licorice if pregnant or postpartum. Use cautiously with gastrointestinal disorders, high blood pressure, hormone-dependent conditions (such as breast cancer or prostate cancer), sleep disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), irregular heartbeat, heart disease, diabetes, joint or muscle disorders (such as arthritis or fibromyalgia), eye disorders, or psychological disorders. Use cautiously if taking ACE inhibitors, lipid-lower agents, anti-cancer drugs, cytotoxic drugs, stimulants (including caffeine), diuretics, glucocorticoids, HIV protease inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), morphine, mitomycin C, sodium channel blockers, nifedipine, agents that increase photosensitivity, or drugs that are broken down by the liver. Use cautiously if undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass oil is an essential oil used in deodorants, herbal teas, skin care products, fragrances, and insect repellents. It is also commonly used during aromatherapy. Until scientific studies are conducted, it remains unknown if lemongrass is an effective treatment for excessive perspiration.
Avoid if allergic to lemongrass, its constituents, or any members of the Poaceae family. Use cautiously if taking diabetic or heart medications or drugs that are broken down by the liver. Use cautiously with liver conditions. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Meditation: Individuals who sweat excessively in response to emotional stress may benefit from relaxation techniques such as meditation. This therapy may help people learn how to control emotions that trigger sweating. However, studies testing the effectiveness of meditation for treatment of excessive perspiration are lacking.
Use cautiously with underlying mental illnesses. People with psychiatric disorders should consult with their primary mental healthcare professionals before starting a program of meditation, and they should explore how meditation may or may not fit in with their current treatment plans. Avoid with risk of seizures. The practice of meditation should not delay the time to diagnosis or treatment with more proven techniques or therapies, and it should not be used as the sole approach to illnesses.
Valerian is an herb native to Europe and Asia. Today the herb grows in most parts of the world. Theoretically, valerian may help reduce sweating. However, until research is conducted, it remains unknown if valerian is an effective antiperspirant.
Use cautiously if allergic to valerian or other members of the Valerianaceaefamily. Use cautiously with livers disorders. Use cautiously before surgery. Avoid if driving or operating heavy machinery, as it may cause drowsiness. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Yoga: People who sweat excessively in response to emotional stress may benefit from relaxation techniques, such as yoga. This therapy may help people learn how to control emotions that trigger sweating. However, studies testing the effectiveness of yoga for treatment of excessive perspiration are currently lacking.
Yoga is generally considered to be safe in healthy individuals when practiced appropriately. Avoid some inverted poses with disc disease of the spine, fragile or atherosclerotic neck arteries, extremely high or low blood pressure, glaucoma, detachment of the retina, ear problems, severe osteoporosis, cervical spondylitis, or if at risk for blood clots. Certain yoga breathing techniques should be avoided with heart or lung disease. Use cautiously with a history of psychotic disorders. Yoga techniques are believed to be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding when practiced under the guidance of expert instruction. However, poses that put pressure on the uterus, such as abdominal twists, should be avoided in pregnancy.
Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and heatstroke. It is also important to drink plenty of liquids after sweating to replace lost fluids.
Extreme exercise, especially in hot weather, increases the risk of experiencing dehydration or heatstroke. Therefore, people are encouraged to choose activities that fit their levels of strength and endurance.
Individuals with diabetes or hypoglycemia should check their blood sugar levels regularly. Low blood sugar levels may cause increased sweating, among other symptoms.
Avoiding or reducing the consumption of spicy foods, hot beverages, or drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol (such as coffee, tea, or beer) may help prevent increased sweating.
Antiperspirant may help reduce the amount of sweating under the arms. Deodorant may help prevent or reduce the odor associated with sweating.