It's natural to sweat. Sweating is the body's personal cooling system. Everyone sweats when it's hot outside, during exercise, and in response to certain emotional situations. However, if you sweat more than others, you may be asking yourself, "Why do I sweat so much?" Learn more about the factors contributing to excessive sweating and ways to make it better.
Why Do I Sweat So Much?
Between two and four million sweat glands exist all over the human body. When it gets hot, these glands react by producing sweat to cool down. Sometimes sweat glands can overreact, causing your palms, feet, underarms, face, or head to sweat excessively.
If you sweat profusely, you may have hyperhidrosis, says the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHS). Numerous triggers and conditions can cause hyperhidrosis. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 3 percent of Americans experience excessive sweating, and experience either primary or secondary hyperhidrosis.
Extreme sweating of the hands, armpits, face, and feet not caused by a medical condition or medication is called primary focal hyperhidrosis. This type of sweating often begins in childhood or adolescence and is believed to run in families, with the primary trigger being anxiety, says IHS. Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is often indicated by excessive sweating all over the body, and is generally caused by medication or conditions like menopause, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or heart failure. Usually beginning in adulthood, secondary hyperhidrosis causes sweating on larger or widespread areas of the body, even while sleeping.
How to Deal With Sweating
While hyperhidrosis can often interfere with daily activities, there are a few simple solutions. Try any of the following:
- Eliminate certain foods from your diet, like caffeine, chocolate, and spicy foods.
- Use over-the-counter antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride.
- Wear clothing made of natural fibers, like cotton or linen.
- Use underarm shields to help decrease sweating and absorb sweat.
When hyperhidrosis is suspected, your doctor will perform a physical exam and determine the best treatment option, which include:
- Antiperspirants. Prescription antiperspirants are the most popular topical remedies as they are stronger than over-the-counter products. Some people find these high-strength antipersperants to be irritating to their underarm skin, however.
- Anticholinergics. These are a type of prescription medication that has been shown to help decrease the nerve signals to your sweat glands. This option is best for generalized sweating, and there can be side effects, such as dry mouth and blurred vision.
- Electrotherapy. Certain types of electrotherapy, which delivers low-intensity electrical currents, are used to treat excessive sweating. Some forms destroy the sweat glands outright, preventing them from growing back, while others simply inhibit sweating.
- Botox. For up to six months, Botox treatment can inhibit your sweat glands from overproducing sweat in certain areas of your body. It's generally used for underarm sweat.
- Surgery. If other treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be considered. Sweat gland removal surgery surgically removes the sweat glands from the hands and underarms. Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy involves surgically cutting and destroying the nerves responsible for excessive sweating.
Excessive sweating is a condition no one should have to endure unnecessarily. If you're worried about your overproductive glands — don't sweat it. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you.