What can you do to help reduce excessive sweating?
There is usually no single magic cure for excessive sweating but there is still a lot you can do. The following may be all that you need if the excessive sweating is mild. They may also help in addition to other treatments in more severe cases.
- If you find that soaps irritate the affected skin, use a bland soap substitute such as a moisturiser (emollient) ointment or cream.
- If possible, avoid triggers which can make things worse such as heat or spicy food.
- If you have armpit sweating:
- Try using normal antiperspirants regularly. (Note: there is a difference between antiperspirants and deodorants. Antiperspirants reduce the release of sweat; deodorants mask any unpleasant smells.)
- Avoid clothes that more easily show up sweat marks. As a rule, white and black coloured clothes are less noticeable when wet than other colours.
- Wear loose clothing under the armpits. Avoid clothes made with man-made fibres such as Lycra® and nylon.
- Consider using dress shields (also known as armpit or sweat shields) to absorb excess sweat and protect delicate or expensive clothing. These can be obtained via the internet.
- If you have excessive feet sweating, it can help to:
- Change your socks at least twice a day.
- Use an absorbent foot powder twice daily.
- Wear a different pair of shoes on alternate days. This allows them to dry fully.
- Avoid sport shoes or boots. These are often less breathable than normal shoes are, so are more likely to keep the sweat in.
Aluminium chloride - a strong antiperspirant
If normal antiperspirants do not work, it is worth trying an antiperspirant that contains aluminium chloride. This is a strong antiperspirant. It tends to work best in the armpits. However, it may also work for sweating of the palms and soles.
Aluminium chloride antiperspirants often cause skin irritation or inflammation. If this occurs, it is often still worth persevering if the irritation is tolerable, as the benefit may outweigh the irritation. To reduce the effects of any skin irritation or inflammation that may occur:
- Use the antiperspirant less often.
- Apply a moisturiser (emollient) every day after applying the aluminium chloride; and/or
- Apply a short course of a mild steroid cream such as hydrocortisone 1% to the affected area twice daily for a maximum of 14 days. (Steroid creams reduce inflammation.)
Further reading and references
Grabell DA, Hebert AA; Current and Emerging Medical Therapies for Primary Hyperhidrosis. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017 Mar7(1):25-36. doi: 10.1007/s13555-016-0148-z. Epub 2016 Oct 27.
Hyperhidrosis; NICE CKS, July 2013 (UK access only)
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy for primary hyperhidrosis of the upper limb; NICE Interventional Procedure Guidance, May 2014
Benson RA, Palin R, Holt PJ, et al; Diagnosis and management of hyperhidrosis. BMJ. 2013 Nov 25347:f6800. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f6800.
Ibrahim O, Kakar R, Bolotin D, et al; The comparative effectiveness of suction-curettage and onabotulinumtoxin-A injections for the treatment of primary focal axillary hyperhidrosis: a randomized control trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013 Jul69(1):88-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2013.02.013. Epub 2013 Apr 13.
I am 63 and for the last 22 years have suffered with excessive sweating on my head and face, which seems to be getting worse. This is uncomfortable and embarrassing. If I do anything even slightly...gill22568
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