What is hyperhidrosis, what causes excessive sweating and is there a cure?

THE heatwave has got everyone very hot and bothered, and sweaty.

Sweating is perfectly normal as your body tries to keep cool, especially in these temperature.

But some people find they are sweating more than they think is normal… Here we explain why that might be, and what you can do to tackle it:

Why am I sweating so much?

In short, sweating is normal – don't worry about it too much.

It's your body's way of cooling down when its in danger of overheating.

But you can sweat too much if it's interfering with your day-to-day activities and becoming uncomfortable.

This condition is called hyperhidrosis, and can cause sweating so much that it soaks through clothes or drips off hands.

Sufferers find themselves sweating when they haven't become too hot or done any exercise.

It's surprisingly common, and can affect either the whole body or certain areas.

What causes excessive sweating?

Excessive sweating can occur because of another condition or as a side effect of medication.

But sometimes it happens for no reason at all.

There are things you can do to help minimise the effects of hyperhidrosis. These are:


  • wear loose-fitting clothes to minimise signs of sweating
  • wear socks that absorb moisture and change your socks at least twice a day if possible
  • wear leather or airy shoes and try to wear different shoes day to day


  • wear tight clothes or man-made fabrics e.g. nylon
  • wear enclosed boots or sports shoes that may cause your feet to sweat more
  • do things that might make your sweating worse e.g. drinking alcohol or eating spicy food

Is there a cure?

Hyperhidrosis sometimes gets better with age.

But in the meantime, pharmacists can give you various things over the counter to help control it. These include:

  • stronger antiperspirants instead of deodorant
  • armpit or sweat shields to protect your clothing
  • foot powders for sweaty feet
  • soap substitutes that are more gentle on your skin

There's also a new "wet wipe" cloth known as Qbrexza, which contains a liquid drug that blocks activation of the sweat glands in the armpit.

Research shows that, used daily, the wipe reduces sweat production by 50 per cent in nearly three out of four patients.

The prescription-only medicine is available in the US and Japan, and could come to the UK.

If your sweating doesn't improve and there's no obvious cause, you may be referred to a dermatologist.

They'll recommend other treatments to try, such as:

  • tablets that reduce sweating
  • treating the areas with a weak electric current passed through water or on a wet pad (iontophoresis)
  • having Botox injections for sweating under the armpits (this may not be available on the NHS)
  • surgery e.g. removal of the sweat glands

See a GP if you’re sweating excessively and:

  • things you can do yourself aren't helping
  • it's lasted for at least six months
  • it stops you from getting on with your daily activities
  • it happens at least once a week
  • it happens at night (you're having night sweats)
  • you have a family history of excessive sweating
  • you're taking medication for another condition

(Via the NHS)

If your sweating is caused by another condition, any treatment will depend on what's causing it.

For more information, visit Hyperhidrosis UK.

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