How to Stop Excessive Sweating: 9 Causes & Treatment Options

Understand your excessive sweating symptoms, 8 causes & treatment options for your excessive sweating.

Excessive Sweating Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your excessive sweating

Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 8 Possible Excessive Sweating Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. Real-Life Stories
  6. FAQs
  7. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  8. Statistics
  9. Related Articles
  10. References

Excessive Sweating Symptoms

Dont sweat the small stuff? Sometimes, sweating isnt something we can will ourselves not to do, even if we feel otherwise cool and collected. It's often during the most inconvenient situations that it can even become excessive.

The body has more than two million sweat glands. Sweating helps us regulate our body temperature. It also hydrates our skin and helps to balance our body's fluids and electrolytes [1].

What is excessive sweating?

Excessive sweating, or "hyperhidrosis," refers to sweating beyond what is necessary to accomplish these functions. Primary hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating that has no identifiable cause. Secondary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, is excessive sweating due to an underlying condition.

Common characteristics of excessive sweating

Excessive sweating symptoms may occur under the arms, on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and on the face and scalp. These areas of the body have the highest concentration of sweat glands [2].

Excessive Sweating Causes

Primary hyperhidrosis

Primary hyperhidrosis causes excessive (and obvious) sweating, especially underarm sweating, and sweating of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet [3]. Sweating on the face and scalp is less common in primary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis unfortunately has both social and professional implications. Because of excessive underarm sweating, clothes are easily stained [4]. Persistent skin moisture can lead to a variety of dermatological conditions [5]. It can be embarrassing to shake hands if your palms are always sweaty.

Secondary hyperhidrosis causes

The most common cause of secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive heat [6]. Graves disease (hyperthyroidism), panic disorder, heart attack, fever, and menopausal hot flashes are some of the conditions that might cause excessive sweating [6-9]. Some medications can cause excessive sweating.

8 Possible Excessive Sweating Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced excessive sweating. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Overactive thyroid

The thyroid is a small, bow-tie shaped gland in your neck. Its main job is to produce thyroid hormone (known as T3 or T4), which serves a wide array of functions throughout the body.

When too much thyroid hormone is released, the body’s metabolism gets ramped up, causing symptoms ...

Read more

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is a chronic condition that involves repeated episodes of panic attacks, as well as worry about future attacks or consequences of attacks, or unhelpful changes in behavior to avoid the attacks. Panic attacks are episodes of sudden-onset fear, discomfort, and/or other symptoms tha...

Read more

Generalized anxiety disorder (gad)

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. Generalized anxiety disorder refers to ongoing feelings of worry and anxiousness that persists for at least six months. Generalized anxiety disorde...

Read more

Heart attack

Most heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat - called an arrhythmia - that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, tight, heavy, squeezing chest pain, being severely ill, nausea

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Excessive Sweating Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your excessive sweating

Diabetic hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia (severely low blood sugar) can occur in Type 1 (more common) and Type 2 Diabetes. It is usually caused by poorly timed use of blood-sugar-controlling medication.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fatigue, irritability, anxiety, dizziness, racing heart beat

Symptoms that always occur with diabetic hypoglycemia: being severely ill

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Sepsis

Sepsis is a serious illness that is caused by the body's reaction to an infection and cause system-wide inflammation.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: being severely ill, shortness of breath, fever, feeling confused and not making sense while talking, abnormally high heartrate

Symptoms that always occur with sepsis: being severely ill

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Guillain-barre syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a condition in which the body's immune system damages parts of neurons. Guillain-Barre syndrome usually occurs after an infection or other triggering event. It is believed that the event leads to an abnormal immune response in which the body...

Read more

Acromegaly

In general, acromegaly is the overgrowth of tissues around the body caused by an excess of growth hormone and Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). In almost all cases, this overgrowth is caused by the pituitary gland's overproduction of these hormones. A resulting, often benign, tumor, called an adenoma, i...

Read more

Excessive Sweating Treatments and Relief

When excessive sweating is an emergency

It is important to seek emergency medical care if you have excessive sweating and:

Treatments for primary hyperhidrosis

For excessive sweating symptoms related to primary hyperhidrosis, treatment might involve [2,9,10]:

  • Use of prescription strength antiperspirants
  • Botox treatment: Botox, injected into the areas of sweat production, suppresses sweating.
  • Microwave thermolysis: Microwave energy is used destroy underarm sweat glands.
  • Medications: Such as glycopyrrolate or oxybutynin, which are anticholinergic drugs. Some of the side effects of anticholinergic drugs include urinary retention, dry mouth, headache, and blurry vision.
  • Iontophoresis: This involves applying direct current through an ionic substance, usually tap water.
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy: This involves cutting or cauterizing (burning) the upper thoracic sympathetic nerve chain.

Treatments for secondary hyperhidrosis

For sweating related to secondary hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating treatment should involve:

  • Treating the underlying condition: This is primarily to help relieve the symptom(s) of the condition, including excessive sweating.
  • Medication: Treatment will depend on the condition itself. Graves disease and panic disorder, for example, can both be treated with medication prescribed by your healthcare provider.

At-home treatments and tips for excessive sweating

Tips to cope with excessive sweating symptoms, whatever the cause:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods [4,11]
  • If you smoke, stop [12]
  • Apply antiperspirant in the morning and at night
  • Clothing color choices: Think about the color of your clothing. Navy, black, and white are least likely to show sweat stains, whereas sweat is much more obvious on brightly colored clothing. Patterned clothing like plaid is good at masking sweat stains
  • Wear breathable fabrics: Wear clothes made of breathable fabrics and wear them in layers [2].
  • Specialized fabrics: Wear clothes made out of fabrics engineered to be sweat-proof or sweat-blocking [12].
  • Wear sweat pads: These can absorb the sweat before it reaches your clothes [4].
  • Dealing with sweat stains: Oxiclean products, hydrogen peroxide, and yellow stain removers can help get the sweat stains out of your clothes [13].
  • Keep cooling gel packs in your pockets: This way you can quickly (and inconspicuously) cool and dry your hands [14].
  • Apply antiperspirants to the palms of your hands at night, and the soles of your feet in the morning: Make sure to wash your hands in the morning (doing so will not stop the effectiveness of the antiperspirant).

Share your story with others

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar.

FAQs About Excessive Sweating

Here are some frequently asked questions about excessive sweating.

What causes severe sweating?

Excessive sweating with no identifiable medical cause (primary hyperhidrosis) may be caused by a variety of things, including an overactive nervous system in which the sympathetic nervous system triggers sweating in abnormal situations, or a sensitive stress response in which an individual experiences stress with a lower stimuli than most individuals. It is normal to sweat in situations of emotional and physical stress as well as to cool the body when it is overly warm. There is evidence to suggest that hyperhidrosis is hereditary to some degree.

Why do I sweat when I eat?

Gustatory sweating sweating on the face, neck, and scalp especially when eating spicy foods is normal. Though in excessive amounts it can occur after damage to the nerve supplying the spit gland. The nerve can heal in such a way that it also activates the sweat glands of the heads whenever saliva is to be produced [15].

What causes sweaty hands?

Sweaty hands can be caused by a warm environment or exercise. Hands have multiple blood vessels, and cooling hands can contribute significantly to cooling core body temperature and allowing exercise for longer. However, sweaty palms are also associated with sympathetic nervous system activation due to emotional cues [1].

Can you sweat too much?

Sweating excessively is not physically dangerous as long as the fluid is replaced by an equivalent amount of water and electrolytes. Usually a non-sweetened lemonade, watered down sports drink, or just water are sufficient replacements for fluid lost [16]. Sweating may, however, post significant social problems. It can be embarrassing. Most individuals with excessive sweating manage through behavior (e.g. changes of clothes, a handkerchief) [7]. In extreme conditions, a surgery in which the nerve that causes sweating is clipped (sympathectomy) is possible [1,17].

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Excessive Sweating

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Are you feeling irritable (easily made upset)?
  • Do you notice your heart beating hard, rapidly, or irregularly (also called palpitations)?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your excessive sweating. These questions are also covered.

Take quiz

Excessive Sweating Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced excessive sweating have also experienced:

  • 6% Fatigue
  • 6% Nausea
  • 4% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)

People who have experienced excessive sweating were most often matched with:

  • 33% Overactive Thyroid
  • 33% Panic Disorder
  • 33% Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Excessive Sweating Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your excessive sweating

References

  1. Physiology of Normal Sweating. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link
  2. Hyperhidrosis. NCH Healthcare System. Updated August 18, 2015. NCH Healthcare System Link
  3. Campanati A, Gregoriou S, Kontochristopoulos G, Offidani A. Oxybutynin for the Treatment of Primary Hyperhidrosis: Current State of the Art. Skin Apprendage Disorders. 2015;1(1):6-13. NCBI Link
  4. Hyperhidrosis. British Association of Dermatology. Updated June 2018. BAD Link
  5. Study Finds That Patients with Excessive Sweating Condition are More Likely to Develop Skin Infections. American Academy of Dermatology. Published May 7, 2009. AAD Link
  6. Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Generalized Hyperhidrosis. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  7. Salman F, Oktaei H, Solomon S, Nyenwe E. Recurrent Graves' Hyperthyroidism After Prolonged Radioiodine-Induced Hypothyroidism. Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2017;8(7):111-115. NCBI Link.
  8. Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Hyperhidrosis and Psychiatric Illness, Incl Social Anxiety Disorder. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  9. Hyperhidrosis. University of Minnesota Health. MHealth Link.
  10. Campanati A, Gregoriou S, Kontochristopoulos G, Offidani A. Oxybutynin for the Treatment of Primary Hyperhidrosis: Current State of the Art. Skin Apprendage Disorders. 2015;1(1):6-13. NCBI Link.
  11. Kim TW, Shin YO, Lee JB, Min YK, Yang HM. Caffeine Increases Sweating Sensitivity Via Changes in Sudomotor Activity During Physical Loading. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2011;14(11):1448-1455. NCBI Link.
  12. Hyperhidrosis or Excessive Sweating and the Use of Botox. The Fontmell Clinic. The Fontmell Clinic Link.
  13. Hot Flushes. NHS. Updated August 29, 2018. NHS Link.
  14. Laundry Solutions. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  15. Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Focal Hyperhidrosis. International Hyperhidrosis Society. International Hyperhidrosis Society Link.
  16. Bates GP, Miller VS. Sweat Rate and Sodium Loss During Work in the Heat. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. 2008;3:4. NCBI Link.
  17. Krasna M, Jiao X. Thoracoscopic Sympathectomy. CTSNet. Published April 10, 2011. CTSNet Link.

No ads, doctor reviewed. Let's crack your symptom code together - like us on Facebook to follow along.