Ways to Help Hack Your Hyperhidrosis

Maybe you wear multiple layers of clothing in hopes of sopping up sweat. Or you sweat enough to stain a jacket. Or maybe even you notice your pants are wet because there’s enough to drip down your chest.

All these are complaints of people who have hyperhidrosis, a condition in which the body’s cooling centers are turned up so high that they sweat to an extreme — sometimes up to 5 times more than normal, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS). The condition affects an estimated 365 million people worldwide, and types of the condition vary depending on where the sweating is happening. Most often, the sweating occurs in underarms, feet, hands, and the face or the head, notes the IHHS.

“Patients who have hyperhidrosis talk about how it affects their confidence and ability to perform well. They’re always worried about people finding out they have it,” says Dee Anna Glaser, MD, professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University in Missouri, and president of the IHHS.

And that includes hiding it from doctors, too. “Many people are so embarrassed they keep it to themselves instead of seeking medical attention,” says A. Yasmine Kirkorian, MD, assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Children’s National Health System and George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. But the truth is, you really can find help by talking to a board-certified dermatologist with knowledge of excessive sweating. (The IHHS’s website, SweatHelp.org, has a handy physician finder tool).

Once actively treating the condition, you may notice issues, like irritation from topical products or side effects from medication. But the good news is that there are so many different options, you can work with your doctor to find a solution. Here, nine great ones:

1. Swipe on an Antiperspirant to Help Block Excessive Sweating

“These are a great first step for treating excessive sweating,” says Dr. Kirkorian. Antiperspirants contain physical sweat blockers, like aluminum chloride, which plug up sweat glands, and “extra strength” or “clinical strength” over-the-counter options are effective, she says. Pro tip: Swipe it on at night for the best results, as this is when sweat glands are less active. You may also use it again in the morning with deodorant or on its own. To better lock in its effects, try using a hair dryer on the warm setting and applying heat to the application areas.

3. Consider Botox as a Possible Way to Stop Sweating So Much

Don’t just think of injections of Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) as wrinkle fighters for your face — this drug has a whole host of medical uses, and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in people ages 18 and older for treating armpit hyperhidrosis. Per the IHHS, the natural protein in Botox helps disrupt and block the chemical that triggers sweat glands, effectively helping to stop you from sweating in the injected area. The website notes 20 countries or more have approved this treatment for underarm sweating, and the approach may reduce sweating by upwards of 87 percent and for as long as 14 months.

“Botox can be a good option for patients who don’t respond to or can’t tolerate topical or oral sweating medication,” says Kirkorian. The downside is that the injections, which go directly into the armpit and may be needed every three to six months for sustained dryness, can be painful. But your doctor can use topical numbing creams, ice, or vibration to minimize discomfort, she says.

4. Help Manage Excessive Sweating With miraDry

Noninvasive and FDA-cleared, miraDry is a device that uses microwave technology to permanently destroy sweat glands, says Dr. Glaser, who was involved in the clinical trials for this approach. “It’s appealing for working professionals or other people who don’t want to worry about applying something or taking medication,” she says. The downside is that it’s not covered by insurance, but it may be cost-effective in the long run. The majority of patients require one treatment, she says.

6. Shop for Dark Clothes Made With Moisture-Wicking Fabrics

If you’re dealing with underarm sweating, opt for sweat-wicking fabrics. (Performance clothing geared toward fitness often features these fabrics.) You’ll want to avoid cotton, and instead opt for fibers such as polyester, nylon, and polypropylene, notes Macy’s. Dark colors will hide perspiration better than lighter ones. And to help minimize foot sweating, breathable shoes are a must, says Glaser.

7. Plan Ahead for Sweaty Moments That You Can Predict

Stress can certainly trigger sweating, but just as important as managing stress when it arrives is coming up with an action plan for times it’s most likely to happen. For example, if you deal with sweaty palms, the stress of a job interview — knowing you’ll be shaking hands — can be enough to prompt perspiration, says Glaser. In that instance, learning to reliably wipe off sweat discretely “can give someone confidence back, rendering the trigger a less potent stress releaser,” she says.

9. Think About Other Possible Causes of Hyperhidrosis

If you experience excessive sweating that begins later in life, is all over your body, or involves night sweats where you wake up drenched, talk to your healthcare provider, says Glaser. These may be signs that a medical condition — including heart disease or lung disease, certain cancers, or a hormonal imbalance — may be causing you to sweat too much.

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