Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) - Self-help

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.)

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Author:
Dr Colin Tidy
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
4440 (v42)
Last Checked:
23 July 2017
Next Review:
22 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.