Do you keep extra shirts at the office and change several times a day because you are embarrassed about soaked-through armpits or sweat stains? You are not alone; heavy sweating is a medical condition known as axillary hyperhidrosis. According to research from the University of California, San Francisco, hyperhidrosis affects roughly 1.4% of the population and occurs when the nervous system abnormally activates the sweat glands, causing excessive sweating. Thankfully, there are a number of effective ways to reduce and manage excessive sweating:
1. Antiperspirants Regular deodorants and antiperspirants don’t usually do much for this condition, but there are super strong antiperspirants available that can help. Talk to your doctor about a prescription for industrial antiperspirant, sometimes called a “clinical strength” antiperspirant. These products are not always prescription only and can be found in many specialty stores. They work best when applied to completely dry skin. Be sure not to apply them first thing after you shower or when you are dripping with sweat.
2. Shave your armpits In most cases, you can’t get an antiperspirant to work properly unless you can apply it directly to dry skin—that means, in many cases, you need to shave your armpits thoroughly first. Bare skin allows the sweat to evaporate more rapidly, so you are less likely to experience sweat soaking into your clothing. Armpit hair allows odor-producing bacteria to grow, and wet armpit hair can create really bad body odor (or BO).
3. Avoid caffeine While a hot cup of coffee is a pleasant way to start the day, caffeine stimulates the nerves that activate your sweat glands. If you are already prone to heavy sweating, consuming caffeine is like pouring gasoline on a fire. To keep your sweating under control, skip the caffeinated drinks altogether or moderate your intake of coffee, energy drinks and sodas.
4. Avoid spicy foods Similar to caffeine, spicy foods activate your sweat glands. It’s best to avoid sweat-inducing foods if you suffer from heavy sweating. Salty, fatty foods like potato chips and packaged meat sticks can also trigger heavy sweating in some people.
5. Pick your clothing carefully If you don’t want soaked, dripping shirts, you need to encourage your sweat to evaporate. You’ll want to wear breathable clothing. Avoid cotton; it takes forever to dry out. Look to high-tech sports clothing, especially those made of sweat-wicking materials as they promote airflow and pull sweat away from your skin, rapidly inducing it to evaporate.
6. Remember to hydrate Some people who suffer from excessive sweating try to control the condition by deliberately dehydrating themselves, thinking their body will try to conserve water by not sweating. This can actually cause the opposite to occur or lead to serious health problems. Remember, if you are sweating constantly you are losing water all day. You need to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and low-calorie sports beverages.
Most hyperhidrosis sufferers can stay dry by following the above advice. If your condition is really severe and you cannot find relief with these tips, talk to your doctor about prescription treatments and minimally invasive procedures (i.e., Botox) that can help. There is no need to suffer from the constant embarrassment of abnormally heavy armpit sweating.