Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes excessive sweating that is not necessarily related to heat or exercise. Messages from your brain usually tell your body when to produce sweat, either to keep you cool in warm temperatures or as a reaction to anxiety. However, with hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating occurs regardless of the physical or emotional environment. This excessive sweating may interfere with daily activities and can cause significant social anxiety and embarrassment. Fortunately, several treatment options are available to help with this condition.
Treatments for Excessive Sweating
- Antiperspirants: Antiperspirants are the most common treatment for hyperhidrosis and may be purchased “over-the-counter” at your local drugstore or with a prescription from a medical professional. They work by plugging your sweat ducts so that the sweat does not reach the surface of your skin.
- Iontophoresis: This treatment uses a mild electrical current in a shallow tray of water to reduce excessive sweating of the hands and/or feet. It has been shown to reduce sweating by 81%1,2. Prescription iontophoresis machines cost under $1000 and insurance may cover some of the cost.
- Botox: Botox is a natural, purified protein that, when injected, can temporarily block the secretion of a chemical in your body that controls your sweat glands. When used to treat excessive underarm or hand sweating, it has been shown to reduce sweating by 80-90%, with improvement lasting from 4-12 months. The cost of Botox varies depending upon the size of the body area treated and whether insurance covers any of the cost.
- Oral medications: There are several classes of medications that may be used to treat excessive sweating, each having different side effects and precautions. Insurance usually covers the cost of this type of therapy.
- Laser therapy: A laser can be focused into a narrow beam of energy in order to target, heat, and destroy sweat glands in the underarm area. Side effects may include swelling, bruising, and numbness, but usually resolve after 1-2 weeks. In studies, 82% of patients receiving laser treatment for hyperhidrosis said their results were “good” or “excellent”3. Insurance may not cover the cost of laser treatment, which can be up to $3000.
- MiraDry: This device is used by a doctor to deliver microwave energy to the underarm skin, effectively destroying sweat glands. In research studies, MiraDry was shown to reduce underarm sweat by 90%4. Common side effects include swelling, redness, and tenderness lasting for several days. Best results are seen when two treatments are performed three months apart.
Other Causes of Excessive Sweating
Hyperhidrosis may be caused by an underlying medical condition such as menopause, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, tuberculosis, or cancer. Certain medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may also cause excessive sweating.
When sweating is caused by an underlying medical problem, this is called secondary hyperhidrosis. Unlike secondary hyperhidrosis, which has a sudden onset, primary hyperhidrosis tends to be a longstanding medical condition that typically begins prior to age 25 with no underlying cause.
If excessive sweating is a problem for you, consult with your physician.
1. Karakoç Y. Safe control of palmoplantar hyperhidrosis with direct electrical current. Int J Dermatol. 2002;41:602-605.
2. Bouman HD, Grunewald Lentzer EM. The treatment of hyperhidrosis of hands and feet with constant current. Am J Phys Med. 1952;31:158-169.
3. Leclere FM, Moreno-Moraga J, Aleolea JM, Vogt PM, Rovo J, Corenjo P, Casoli V, Mordon S, Trelles MA. Efficacy and safety of laser therapy on axillary hyperhidrosis after one year follow up: a randomized blinded controlled trial. Lasers Surg Med. 2015; 47(2): 173-9.
4. Lupin M, Chih-Ho Hong H, O’Shaughnessy KF. A multi-center evaluation of the Miradry system to treat subjects with axillary hyperhidrosis. Am Soc for Laser Med and Surg. 2011; 79.