Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Modern Treatments & Natural Remedies

If you find yourself constantly battling sweaty palms that make handshakes feel like a daunting task or have underarms that “make it rain” – and not in the way you want, you could be dealing with hyperhidrosis. Perhaps you seem to always have a moist forehead, even when the weather is far from hot or you get excessively sweaty in all types of places (yes, you know what we mean) even when you’re not doing any extreme activities. These are all common signs of hyperhidrosis, a common condition that takes sweating to a whole new level. Unlike the usual sweat that comes from a brisk walk or a sunny day, hyperhidrosis causes you to break out into a sweat even in situations where it seems utterly unnecessary. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing more frustrating than constantly worrying about visible sweat patches or the clammy feel of your skin. The good news: there are all kinds of natural treatments and remedies that can help keep your sweat at bay – pardon the pun, so you can finally stop worrying about sweat getting the best of you.

hyperhidrosis fact sheet

What is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is a common condition that causes you to sweat uncontrollably and excessively, even during times when there really is no reason for you to be sweating at all, throwing off the balance between your body and its natural cooling mechanism. While sweating is a normal response, hyperhidrosis takes it up a notch, leaving your armpits, palms, feet, face, chest, and groin battling the constant and unnecessary buildup of moisture.

The good news: hyperhidrosis is not considered a serious health threat. However, the emotional toll can be significant, causing embarrassment, distress, and even triggering feelings of depression or anxiety.

The continuous stream of sweat can infiltrate every aspect of your life. It can make you feel uncomfortable giving handshakes due to the dampness and clamminess of your skin and even cause you to avoid doing activities you love for fear of the sweat showing. Simple tasks, like holding tools, using a touchscreen or typing on a keyboard, can turn into challenges as your skin struggles to stay dry and even things, such as driving, can become a source of discomfort as your hands slip and slide on the steering wheel.

Needless to say, hyperhidrosis isn’t just sweating. The struggle tends to run deep into your personal life, disrupting your mood, social life and even daily tasks and responsibilities.

What Causes Hyperhidrosis?

One of the most frustrating things about dealing with hyperhidrosis is that the excess sweat can seemingly come out of nowhere and with no obvious cause. For these types of cases, they are classified as “primary hyperhidrosis” and believed to be the result of an issue with part of the nervous system (your sympathetic nervous system) that is responsible for controlling perspiration. You can think of this as being your body’s internal thermostat. When it senses the temperature rising, it sends a message from your brain to your sweat glands, triggering them to produce sweat. This sweat then cools your skin, bringing down your body temperature. As such, having your body constantly, excessively and unnecessarily producing sweat is believed to be an issue with this system. Genetics may also play a role.

On the other hand, if there is a known cause the sweating is classified as secondary hyperhidrosis. This type tends to make a sudden entrance and can be linked to various factors such as pregnancy, menopause, anxiety, low blood sugar, an overactive thyroid, obesity, and certain medications. It can also be a symptom of conditions like Parkinson’s disease or disorders of the blood cells or bone marrow.

Additionally, not only is there a known cause for secondary hyperhidrosis but it’s also known to produce sweat all over the body, drenching various areas simultaneously. This is different from primary hyperhidrosis, which tends to cause sweat in areas known to have sweat glands, such as the armpits, forehead, groin, etc.

How is Hyperhidrosis Treated?

Managing excessive sweating can take some trial-and-error, as what works for one person may not have the same effect on another. So, it’s important to explore the different options available for treating hyperhidrosis.

Generally, doctors suggest beginning with less invasive approaches, such as using more potent antiperspirants (deodorant) and avoiding foods that trigger sweat. Making some lifestyle changes or adjustments to your regular clothing can also help reduce the appearance of sweat. For example, wearing white or black clothing can help reduce visible sweat marks and wearing loose, lightweight clothing can also be beneficial.

If these suggestions do not provide any relief, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatment options, such as:

  • Iontophoresis, a procedure where an electric current is applied to the affected area through water or a damp pad.
  • Botulinum toxin injections.
  • Anticholinergics, a medication that blocks the chemical used to activate sweat glands.
  • Surgical interventions, such as endoscopic thoracic sympathetic or the removal of sweat glands.

Unfortunately, as helpful as these suggestions can be for managing the symptoms, they rarely address the root cause of the problem. As such, hyperhidrosis typically persists long-term.

Natural Remedies for Treating Hyperhidrosis

If your body isn’t responding to a more intense deodorant and you don’t want to opt for invasive treatments, there are many natural remedies that can help treat hyperhidrosis. Similar to conventional treatments, this process is all about trial-and-error and finding which methods work best for you.

Here are some top natural remedies and tips to get you started.

Lifestyle Habits

Making changes to your lifestyle won’t necessarily cure primary hyperhidrosis, but it can make a notable difference in alleviating symptoms and boosting your confidence. They can also help manage secondary hyperhidrosis until the root cause is addressed or passed (such as pregnancy). Here’s some helpful tips worth considering:

  • Identify and steer clear of triggers that worsen your sweating, such as spicy foods and alcohol.
  • Opt for antiperspirants over regular deodorants and apply them more frequently.
  • Choose loose and breathable clothing.
  • Avoid tight, constrictive garments and synthetic fabrics like nylon.
  • Wear black or white attire can help minimize visible signs of sweating.
  • Consider using armpit shields to absorb excess sweat and protect your clothes.
  • Select moisture-absorbing socks, like those made from natural fibers or specially designed sports socks.
  • Avoid socks crafted from synthetic materials and change them at least twice a day, if possible.
  • Whenever possible, opt for leather shoes and alternate between different pairs daily to give your feet a break.
  • For running shoes, opt for a brand and fabric that offer breathability.
  • Stay hydrated to help regulate your body’s temperature.
  • Manage stress to help out your flight-or-flight mode, which elevates your heart rate, increases your body temperature and opens up sweat pores when triggered.

Herbal Remedies

There are a variety of natural remedies that use herbs to help treat hyperhidrosis. Some popular options are:

  • Sage tea or sage tablets: helps control sweating and reduces odor-causing bacteria.
  • Black tea: helps control sweating and reduces odor-causing bacteria.
  • Witch hazel: acts as a natural astringent and can control odor-causing bacteria.
  • Valerian root: can help combat anxiety and menopause triggering sweat.
  • Tea tree oil: acts as a natural astringent and reduces odor-causing bacteria.
  • St. John’s Wort: can help address depression and menopause, two causes of secondary hyperhidrosis.
  • Schisandra: helps treat night sweats and random sweating.

Home Remedies

Take a look in your pantry and try some of these popular home remedies for treating hyperhidrosis:

  • Apple cider vinegar: Apply to your skin before bed and wash it off in the morning.
  • Baking soda: Can help absorb sweat, lower pH levels and block odors.
  • Cornstarch paste: Can help absorb sweat, lower pH levels and block odors.
  • Epsom salt bath: Soak for 20 minutes one or two times a week and let the Epsom bath salts reduce body odor and act as an astringent.
  • Lemon juice: Apply right to your underarms at night and wash it off in the morning.
  • Salt scrub: salt absorbs moisture, so use a salt scrub in the areas where you tend to sweat.

Alternative Medicine

There are various forms of alternative medicine or treatments that can help combat hyperhidrosis, such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis
  • Relaxation techniques

Although sweat is an entirely normal thing the body does, excessive sweat comes with a lot more than just extra moisture. Hyperhidrosis can present all kinds of challenges, many of which go far beyond the physical aspect, affecting your emotional and mental health. Fortunately, there are all kinds of treatments and natural remedies you can use to help combat the symptoms, reduce the causes and triggers, and get back to living comfortably and confidently. For some, it may require a few small adjustments to the clothing they wear along with a stronger deodorant and for others, it may require a combination of herbal remedies, lifestyle changes and diet adjustments. Everyone is different, so be sure to explore your options and see what works best for you.

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