Everyone sweats. It’s a natural bodily function. However, if you find yourself dripping with sweat for no apparent reason, there’s a good chance you could have hyperhidrosis. Also informally referred to as "excessive sweating," hyperhidrosis is a health condition that impacts 4% to 5% of the population, causing them to sweat as much as four to five times more than the average person.
Living with excessive sweating creates feelings of embarrassment and emotional pain, yet this disorder often goes untreated because people don’t realize they have a medical condition with conventional treatments available.
In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about hyperhidrosis – what causes it, how to manage it, and more.
This article was originally published in February 2019, and updated in May 2020 and April 2021.
While it's hard to remember it when you're suffering from excessive sweat, sweat helps maintain a consistent temperature by cooling your body as the moisture evaporates.
Two types of sweat glands make up the 4 million glands in the human body:
The eccrine glands are most affected by hyperhidrosis. Your nerves activate sweat glands based on triggers including body temperature, physical activity, emotional distress, and hormones. If you’re struggling with hyperhidrosis, you’ll sweat regardless of your surrounding conditions or your emotional state.
So what exactly is hyperhidrosis? Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by excessive and unstoppable sweating. Worldwide, one in 20 people experience excessive sweating. It is estimated that about 3% of Americans suffer from either axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating in the armpits) or palmoplantar hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet).
Both cases of hyperhidrosis typically surface during adolescence, with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis beginning around age 13 and axillary hyperhidrosis typically starting out later in adolescence.
There are also two types of hyperhidrosis:
If you’re uncertain whether you have primary or secondary hyperhidrosis, we've put together a quiz to help you try and understand what to bring up with your doctor. Our quiz is based on informal self-diagnosis questions suggested by Dr. Dee Anna Glaser, St. Louis dermatologist and President of the International Hyperhidrosis Society.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent treatment for hyperhidrosis; so symptoms may continue throughout a person’s lifetime. Depending on the area(s) of the body affected by the sweat, it can drastically affect a person’s ability to confidently address a group or even perform the simplest of tasks, such as gripping a pen or steering wheel.
People with hyperhidrosis consider it a deeply personal condition and embarrassing. It’s also not commonly known that excessive sweating is a recognized disorder, so more than half of those with the condition fail to seek diagnosis or treatment.
Also, many medical professionals are not as informed as they could be about the condition, which results in hyperhidrosis going undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed.
Hyperhidrosis can be hereditary, and it affects both men and women, with approximately 1 in 20 people suffering.
Excessive sweating tends to start in childhood or adolescence with underarm issues beginning in the late teens. Palm and sole sweating often begin around the age of thirteen. However, some people struggle with excessive sweating from a younger age, or notice it doesn't develop until later in their teenage years.
Hyperhidrosis is a lifelong condition with treatments and products available to help you manage life with the discomfort of excessive sweating.
If you’ve been worried about your sweating and what can be considered "excessive sweating," you’re likely producing an irregular amount of sweat.
The most obvious symptom of hyperhidrosis is uncontrollable, excessive sweating in one or more areas of your body for a prolonged period of time.
Complications from excessive sweating may include:
So start by asking yourself:
All of these issues and extra considerations are commonly reported by people who have hyperhidrosis.
Excessive sweating tends to occur most in the following areas:
The best way to approach hyperhidrosis treatment is to first determine your symptoms, including the area on your body most affected by sweat. Think about how it affects your routine, and look for ways to improve your daily life. While there is not a hyperhidrosis cure, below we examine some of the tried-and-true ways to treat and manage it.
There are many ways you can learn to cope with excessive sweating. Of those who have hyperhidrosis, 97% try multiple different methods to prevent or reduce sweating, including:
But these aren't permanent fixes or treatments for hyperhidrosis – they're just ways to cope without trying to improve the situation. There are many treatments and products designed to help with excessive sweating; let's dive into what your treatment options are and how much they cost.
There are many hyperhidrosis remedies that can be implemented at home. In concert with these all-natural remedies, there are also simple lifestyle changes you can implement to help manage your symptoms.
Look in your pantry and bathroom for natural home remedies. Some examples include:
To keep your feet from sweating, wear shoes made from a natural material, such as leather, or a breathable fabric. Avoid shoes made with synthetic materials. Pair with EJIS antimicrobial dress socks to keep feet dry and odor-free.
Allow shoes to dry completely before wearing again. Many people benefit from alternating shoes every other day.
As with shoes, avoid clothing made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester and acrylic. Instead, look for clothes made from natural fibers and that are breathable in nature.
Look into clothing specifically designed for people with hyperhidrosis. If your problem areas are your underarms or buttocks, try out EJIS sweat proof undershirts and boxer briefs. EJIS sweat proof basics act as invisible shields between sweat and your clothes... and they keep you smelling fresh with odor-fighting silver.
It's hard to believe, but you could be misusing your antiperspirant (here's how to do it right). Start a night-time regime with a shower and then an application of antiperspirant to dry skin. Since you’re less active during sleep, an antiperspirant can do its job overnight. Reapply in the morning and throughout the day as you wish.
For starters, make sure you are using the most effective antiperspirant. There are many clinical-strength formulas you can get without a prescription. Apply antiperspirant to completely dry skin in the morning and at night. Make sure the application dries completely before getting dressed.
For best results, it is also advisable to apply it to smooth skin; you might also consider shaving your armpits to get the most from your antiperspirant. Don’t apply antiperspirant directly to freshly shaved skin, and test new antiperspirants in a small area first to avoid skin irritation.
Avoid processed and fatty foods. They are harder to digest, which means your body will sweat more during the digestive process. Hot, spicy foods are also known to increase sweating. (Here's a list of foods that cause more sweating.)
Avoid caffeine as it stimulates your nervous system, which activates your sweat glands. Also avoid drinking alcohol. It causes your body temperature to rise, which triggers your sweat glands to try to cool it down.
Instead, eat easily digested foods, such as fresh greens. (Here's a list of foods that reduce sweating.) Increase your water intake to ensure you stay hydrated. Your body sweats more when it is dehydrated.
If you decide on medical intervention to treat your hyperhidrosis, your doctor might decide to provide the following to help reduce sweating:
If this is something you're open to, we've got a comprehensive breakdown of hyperhidrosis medications including all of the options and price estimates for each.
If you don’t see the desired results from medications, your doctor may suggest a more dramatic option to try and stop your hyperhidrosis for good. Some of the elective surgical treatments that have been successful in treating hyperhidrosis include:
Although hyperhidrosis can be challenging to live with, these are a few of several remedies you can try to limit the adverse effects of excessive sweating. Now you're all set with everything you need to know about hyperhidrosis!
Want your clothes to work extra hard to manage sweat and odor? Learn about antimicrobial fabrics and textiles, which help manage odor, plus how they work.