Don't sweat it: How to deal with excessive sweating

Free your armpits! [Photo: Julian Jagtenberg via Pexels]
Free your armpits! [Photo: Julian Jagtenberg via Pexels]

When you’re pounding the treadmill, sweating feels great, but when you’re about to head into the boardroom, or for a night on the tiles in your new silk shirt, sweaty underarms are less than ideal.

But though everyone sweats – it’s how our bodies naturally regulate our temperature – some of us sweat a little more than others. And for 1-5% of the population sweating can be so extreme it affects their every day lives. That’s because they suffer from a condition known as hyperhidrosis, which is where you sweat excessively.

“Excessive sweating can be caused by a variety of factors such as anxiety, menopause, gout and diabetes, as well as a medical condition called Hyperhidrosis, in which a person sweats excessively,” explains Theresa Pope founder and creator of Dandi Patch. “The sweating can affect just one specific area or the entire body. It’s a very uncomfortable condition which most people find embarrassing.”

So much so that a recent survey found 80% of those who suffer from excessive underarm sweating feel embarrassed when meeting new people, with some reporting that they felt unhappy and even depressed because of this. The same survey also revealed that over half of adults (58%) reported that they would be more embarrassed by underarm sweat than bad acne and 47% would rather be overweight than suffer from excessive sweating under their arms.

What’s more people who suffer from excessive underarm sweating will go to some pretty extreme lengths to hide or prevent it, including altering their daily activities (47%), changing their clothing choices (49%), avoiding raising their arms (35%) and avoiding participating in sports and athletic activities that may induce sweating (17%).

The good news is there is something you can do about it. So if you find yourself sticking to black for fear of those unsightly underarm patches or having to towel yourself down after two mins in the gym, don’t sweat it (sorry!), we’ve got your back, we mean pits.

It’s amazingly common

Studies show that 1 in 2 people suffer from excessive sweating, but only 5 per cent of adults seek advice for the problem. Though hyperhidrosis. the condition can affect any part of the body, it typically occurs in the armpits, hands, feet or head. Sometimes sweating excessively can be a side effect of certain medical problems, but more commonly it occurs on its own in otherwise healthy teenagers and adults. For the most part, no one really knows what causes it.

What you wear can help?

If you suffer from extreme underarm sweat patching you’re probably already picking the type of clothes you wear depending on their patch-hiding ability (black, black and more black). But the type of clothing you wear can also contribute to excess sweating. “If you are really suffering it would be beneficial to avoid tight, or restrictive clothing and man-made fibres, such as polyester and nylon,” advises Theresa Pope. “Instead stick to loose, breathable natural fibres such as linen, silk or cotton where possible.”

Don't sweat it, excessive sweating can be sorted [Photo: Pinterest]
Don’t sweat it, excessive sweating can be sorted [Photo: Pinterest]

What you eat can make a difference

“You can avoid triggering hot flushes by ensuring your adrenal glands are not over-producing the stress hormone adrenaline – which leads to excessive sensation of heat and sweating,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist. “Your body’s release of adrenaline can be controlled by keeping your blood sugar level balanced, through a low glycaemic diet, and by taking nutrients and herbals that strengthen your adrenal function.”

Theresa Pope suggests steering clear of food and drink triggers that will make sweating worse, such as spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol which all stimulate the sweat glands. “This is because spicy foods trigger the same receptors in your skin that respond to heat, while alcohol and caffeine widen the blood vessels, both which can lead to high levels of perspiration,” she explains.

Switch up your deodorant

Although many people believe they’re the same, antiperspirants and deodorants are actually pretty different. According to Hyperhidrosis Support Group antiperspirant is an astringent meant to decrease eccrine and apocrine sweat secretion, while deodorants are designed just to remove and mask unpleasant smells, but not reduce the sweating.

If regular antiperspirants do not control your excessive sweating, the Hyperhidrosis Support Group suggests that an antiperspirant containing Aluminium Chloride is usually the first line of treatment. Anhydrol Forte (roll on), Odaban (spray) and Driclor (roll on) are sold in most chemists and are available on a prescription from your GP. Often instead of rolling it on in the morning, you typically apply before bed, so it can do its thing overnight. But watch out for the sting factor!

Try a perspiration shield

Perspiration shields such as Dandi Patch are designed to act as a paper-thin barrier between armpit sweat and clothing, absorbing all perspiration and keeping odour trapped. Paraben free, comfortable to wear and easy to apply the Dandi Patch (£7.99 for a pack of 10) has been shown to absorb up to 20ml of liquid per patch, which is 2000 times the amount that women sweat on average (and 1000 times the amount men do).

More extreme treatments


“The best way to non-invasively treat hyperhidrosis with the least complications is the administration of Botox in the area,” advises Dr Munir Somji, Chief Medical Officer at Dr MediSpa. “Around 25 injections in each armpit are required, and the effects can last up to 9 months in some individuals. It can also be administered in the hands, feet, back, chest and face. There are possible side effects where some individuals get muscle weakness near the treatment area as well as compensatory sweating (another area sweating more) but these side effects tend to be temporary.” Botox to the underarms at DrMediSpa costs around £450.

Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care [Photo: Ana Paula Lima via Pexels]
Throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care [Photo: Ana Paula Lima via Pexels]

Laser treatment

“There are also laser devices now that destroy sweat glands either through an incision into the skin or from the outside,” explains Dr Somji. “The long term safety of these devices is not yet known and the satisfaction from Botox is so high it’s not worth the price you have to pay.”


“Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is the surgical cure for sweating, this involves blocking the nerve impulses to the sweat glands by clipping the nerves. This is performed under general anaesthesia and has some serious complications such us bleeding into the chest and lung collapse,” explains Dr Somji.

Seek specialist help

If your sweat game is still as strong as ever, you may need to consider booking an appointment with a Hyperhidrosis specialist such as Professor Mark Whiteley and his team at The Whiteley Clinic, as you may be suffering from a medical condition called hyperthyroidism. The Whiteley Clinic offers a brand new and revolutionary Laser Swear Ablation (LSA) treatment which works by destroying the sweat glands using laser and removing them from the area completely, leaving you completely sweat free!

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