Sweating Too Much? Here's What To Do
When it comes to sweating, there's no established "normal." But about 3% of people have a condition called hyperhidrosis, defined as sweat production beyond what is necessary to maintain proper body temperature. Hyperhidrosis often begins in the teenage years or after menopause, but anyone can develop the condition. Regardless of age, it can be a significant source of stress and embarrassment. (Psst! Here's what your sweat is trying to tell you.)
In primary hyperhidrosis--the more common type--sweat glands overreact to factors that spark normal perspiration, including changes in temperature, physical activity, and emotional stress. The underarms, hands, and feet are most often affected. Doctors don't know what causes it, although genetics may play a role.
Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by an underlying health condition (like diabetes or hyperthyroidism) or is a side effect of certain medications (including aspirin and some antidepressants). This type of excessive perspiration tends to occur at night and affect only one side of the body.
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The secondary type requires medical treatment, but most cases of primary hyperhidrosis can be managed at home. Try to minimize sweating by applying a soft, solid antiperspirant to underarms, hands, and feet. It's more likely to stay in place on dry skin, so apply it at night, when sweat production is usually reduced. If you need something stronger, your doctor may prescribe an antiperspirant with higher concentrations of active ingredients. Test these products on a small area of skin to make sure they aren't irritating. Use foot powder and wear moisture-wicking socks to help manage sweaty feet. In addition, reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods, which can promote perspiration.
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For a natural remedy, consider taking 1,000 mg per day of dried sage, which has a history of use for combating excessive perspiration. Avoid ingesting sage essential oil, however, which can be toxic. (Pregnant women should not take sage because it can cause uterine contractions.) Mind-body techniques like biofeedback, guided imagery, and clinical hypnosis can help reduce stress that might otherwise provoke sweating.
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If none of these measures work, your physician may suggest medical treatment, including tap-water ionto-phoresis, which involves soaking feet or hands in an electrolyte solution while a generator supplies a low-intensity electrical current; oral prescription drugs that block the actions of a chemical messenger that stimulates sweat glands; or injections of Botox, which, when administered at the site of excessive sweating, blocks the same chemical messenger. (And make sure to arm yourself with these stylish summer tops that hide sweat stains.)
HOW MUCH SWEATING IS "EXCESSIVE"?
You may have primary hyperhidrosis if you meet two or more of the following criteria.
- The sweating occurs on both sides of your body and is relatively symmetrical (both hands, feet, or underarms).
- You sweat excessively at least once a week.
- Your work or social life is impaired because you're embarrassed about sweating in public or have difficulty with activities like holding a pen or turning a doorknob. The problem started when you were younger than 25.
- Your family members also sweat excessively.
- The sweating stops when you're asleep.
Video: This Is How I Got Rid Of My Excessive Armpit Sweat | Refinery29
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