- You sweat a lot or if sweating lasts for a long time or can't be explained.
- Sweating occurs with or is followed by chest pain or pressure.
- Sweating is accompanied by weight loss or most often occurs during sleep and associated with a fever.
Treatments may include:
- Antiperspirants. Excessive sweating may be controlled with strong anti-perspirants, which plug the sweat ducts. Products containing 10% to 15% aluminum chloride hexahydrate are the first line of treatment for underarm sweating. Antiperspirants can cause skin irritation. The strong doses of aluminum chloride can damage clothing.
- Medication. Anticholinergics drugs, such as glycopyrrolate (Robinul, Robinul-Forte) are rarely helpful. Beta-blockers or benzodiazepines may help reduce stress-related sweating.
- Iontophoresis. This FDA-approved procedure uses electricity to temporarily turn off the sweat gland. It is most effective for sweating of the hands and feet. The hands or feet are placed into water, and then a gentle current of electricity is passed through it. The electricity is gradually increased until the patient feels a light tingling sensation. The therapy lasts about 10-20 minutes and requires several sessions. Side effects include skin cracking and blisters, although rare.
- Botox. Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) was approved by the FDA in 2004 for the treatment of severe underarm sweating, a condition called primary axillary hyperhidrosis. Small doses of purified botulinum toxin injected into the underarm temporarily block the nerves that stimulate sweating. Side effects include injection-site pain and flu-like symptoms.
- Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS). In severe cases, a minimally-invasive surgical procedure called sympathectomy may be recommended. The procedure is usually performed on patients with excessively sweaty palms. It is not as effective on those with excessive armpit sweating. This surgery turns off the signal which tells the body to sweat excessively. ETS surgery is done while the patient is asleep under general anesthesia. The surgery takes about a half hour. Patients usually go home the next day, but may experience pain for about a week. ETS requires special training so make sure your doctor is properly trained. Risks include artery damage, nerve damage, and increased sweating. New sweating occurs in about 50% of patients.