Hyperhidrosis is a condition causing excessive perspiration. Those afflicted sweat too much even when they're cool, calm and at rest. Areas most affected include the hands, feet, underarms, face and head. This makes for embarrassing professional and social situations. There are several ways to stop sweating so much. The severity of your condition, the success of basic courses of treatment and other individual factors determine which treatments are best for you. Talk to your physician about your symptoms.
If your excessive sweating is largely localized to your armpits, powerful antiperspirants may provide adequate control. They plug the sweat ducts, and many combine a deodorizing agent to limit unpleasant body odor smells. Begin with a high-concentration aluminum chloride product sold over the counter. Opt for a 10 to 20 percent solution to begin with. If this proves ineffective, your doctor may prescribe a stronger antiperspirant made with a 20 percent or higher concentration of aluminum chloride. Apply antiperspirants at night, and again in the morning.
Your physician may prescribe a medication -- typically oral -- to help control your excessive perspiration. These often include anticholinergic drugs that inhibit nerve transmissions to the sweat glands. However, the effectiveness of this approach hasn't been well-studied, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you sweat in response to stress, your doctor may prescribe beta-blockers, benzodiazepines or other antidepressant or antianxiety medications.
Botulinum toxin type A, more familiarly known as Botox, can reduce sweating. Therapy involves 15 to 20 injections that block the nerve signals that stimulate the sweat glands. Injections must typically be repeated every four to six months. This treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for axillary hyperhidrosis, the variant affecting the underarms. It can be highly effective, but it is painful, often causes side effects that mimic flu symptoms and it is a bit costly.
Iontophoresis is a nonsurgical procedure used to effectively manage excessive sweating. The area being targeted for treatment is wet and then a mild electrical current is passed into the skin. The current gradually increases over the course of sessions lasting 10 to 20 minutes. While its unclear exactly what mechanism is at work with this treatment, iontophoresis seems to plug or turn off area sweat glands to prevent perspiration. Side effects don't usually occur, but most commonly include temporary localized dryness, irritation or blistering.
For the most severe cases of hyperhidrosis that don't respond to less invasive therapies, surgery may be an option. A few different procedures are used. A sympathectomy blocks nerve impulses along the sympathetic nerve to turn off the sweat response. This is accomplished with clips, cuts or burns on the nerve. Other times, the entire upper thoracic sympathetic nerve chain is removed. Another newer procedure, known as a sympathotomy, involves removal of nerve cell clusters on the sympathetic nerve. A third option is surgical excision of sweat glands.