Treatments for Excessive Sweating of Underarms, Feet or Hands

A sweaty handshake can be an uncomfortable situation for many, particularly in business settings. Called focal hyperhidrosis, the condition is characterized by excessive sweating of the palms, underarms and the soles of the feet. Focal hyperhidrosis usually starts by the end of the teenage years, and is often hereditary.

Treatment options for focal hyperhidrosis include:

  • Non-prescription antipirspirants: Includes products such as Certain Dri, Secret Clinical Strength, Degree Clinical Protection and 5 Day. These products often work well to inhibit mild to moderate sweating.
  • Prescription antipirspirants: These containing aluminum chloride (Drysol, Xerac) and may be more effective than non-prescription antipirspirants.
  • Lontophoresis: This treatment can be done at home and involves placing hands or feet in a pan of water while a battery-powered device delivers a low-voltage current through the water. Treatments last 15 to 30 minutes and are typically done daily for a couple of weeks and then less frequently for maintenance. Iontophoresis is believed to temporarily block the sweat glands, but results may not be any better than using an antiperspirant.
  • Oral medications: Drugs in the anticholinergic class can help. This approach isn’t used often because of side effects that include dry eyes and mouth and difficulty urinating. Anti-anxiety medications may be helpful if stress-induced anxiety contributes to excessive sweating.
  • Botulinum (Botox) injections: Injections of Botox into the palms, soles or underarms can block the nerves that trigger sweat glands. This approach is effective for even severe hyperhidrosis, but the injections are painful. The effect from the Botox wears off after four to 12 months, and the treatment needs to be repeated.
  • Surgery: Two surgical approaches are options when other treatments haven’t worked. They entail surgically removing sweat glands from the underarms or severing the nerve in the chest that carries messages to the sweat glands. Surgery is seldom used because it is a major procedure. If needed, it’s effective.

As with any health concerns, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider before following any course of action.

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