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My Underarms Sweat Too Much
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Last updated May 15, 2017, originally published September 7, 2016
By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist
I first discovered that people could really oversweat when
I met someone who had had a surgery for it. He has little
scars that look a bit like butterflies close to his armpits.
Before that, I had never known anyone with a chronic
problem with underarm sweating, formally known as
"axillary hyperhidrosis". The disorder is usually physiologic
and not psychiatric or endocrinologic. It isn't the most
common form of hydrosis -- the problem more frequently
occurs in childhood or adolescence and happens in the
hands and feet.
This kind of excessive underarm sweating can seriously
interfere with your lifestyle, as, according to L.P. Stolman
from the New Jersey medical school, adults with
hyperhidrosis sweat both when they are asleep and
awake. Stolman lists the common causes for hyperhidrosis
as systemic illness, or sometimes a drug taken for a
medical disorder. Other culprits might be genetics, stress
and anxiety, or strong caffeine intake.
Sometimes excess sweating can be due to outside factors
such as warm temperatures, exercise, certain foods, or
substance abuse. It's good to pinpoint why your
underarms might be perspiring so much.
In any case, you don't necessarily have to have an invasive
operation. In addition to cutting out caffeine or other
sweat-inducing substances, there are a host of natural
1. Aluminum Chloride Deodorant
Strong deodorant is always a good first line of defense.
Aluminum chloride seems to be a practical, primary thing
In 2010, Dr. M. Streker from the University of Hamburg
tested its effects on 20 patients, ages 22-38, with
idiopathic axillary hyperhidrosis.
He and researchers tried three different types of
deodorant, including sweat off, sweat off Gmbh, and
In the 42-day study, test participants were evaluated
clinically, with an iodine starch test, gravimetric analysis,
and by looking at the skin surface PH. The results were
positive: There was marked clinical improvement, as well
as a significant reduction of the skin surface PH.
There was a side effect of slight skin irritation in six
patients, but that was temporary.
Overall, it was found to be effective, safe, and inexpensive.
There is some controversy with aluminum chloride
deodorant, but if switched off with other techniques, or
used as pure aluminum salts, you're safe to go.
Reports decades ago persist linking aluminum chloride in
deodorants to an increased risk for cancer and Alzheimer's
disease. Despite these persistent reports and rumors, there
is no scientific evidence linking aluminum chloride with
either cancer or deodorant, concludes a 1990 study led by
Dr. Amy Borenstein of the College of Public Health at the
University of South Florida in Tampa. ]
2. Radiofrequency Thermotherapy
Well, you have to go to a doc for this one, but it doesn't
involve any permanent modification or weird chemicals.
Results of a study performed by C.H. Schnick from the
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany indicate that
it could bring sweating back to normal.
He and colleagues tested 30 adults with pronounced
axillary hyperhidrosis, who were treated with
radiofrequency thermotherapy by using non-insulated
microneedles three times, at intervals of six weeks.
Improvement was measured using the Hyperhidrosis
Disease Severity Scale (HDSS) and Dermatology Life
Quality Index (DLQI). The HDSS dropped from 3.4 to 2.1,
and the DLQI went down from 16 to 7. The improvement
was dramatic: At the six month follow-up, an average
sweating reduction of 72% was seen in 27 patients.
3. Botox Therapy with Microneedles
According to a 2015 report from S. Singh at the
Department of vascular surgery in Lancaster, of the
methods they have studied, this is usually the most
effective treatment, that doesn't involve surgery or side
While microneedles are not always the go-to option with
botox, they do seem to be the best, because they can
deliver the drugs to the target area of the skin without
causing pain. This method does require a skilled clinician
and 20 injections, but could be the most effective way to
go, for extreme axillary hyperhidrosis. So, why does
botox, the same chemical used to eliminate wrinkles in the
face, work? According to Nowell Solish, Toronto-based
cosmetic dermatologist and assistant professor at the
University of Toronto, "If you put Botox around the sweat
gland, even if the nerve is signalling it to sweat, the signal
doesn't reach the sweat gland, and you don't sweat as
4. Acupuncture Anyone?
More needles? Yep, poking in the right place seems to
realign that sweaty reaction. Licensed acupuncture
therapist Ellice Yang from Acutoronto affirms that
acupuncture often targets the root cause of hyperhidrosis.
She says, "An emotional issue like stress can trigger (it),
anxiety can trigger (it) — especially if it's a secondary
hyperhidrosis. Sometimes it can be an autoimmune
condition. So all of these things acupuncture can help —
not just the symptom of sweating, but addressing the root
cause of the hyperhidrosis."
However, she emphasizes that before coming to get
treatment, it's important to diagnose it with a doctor, and
get bloodwork and testing to rule out underlying causes
such as hormonal issues.
Similar to botox, the acupuncture serves to balance
overstimulated nerves and prevent them from being
overactive. Yang suggests 8-10 acupuncture sessions,
along with herbs in pill format or granular or powdered
teas, once per day.
5. Herbal mixes
These are a good accompaniment to acupuncture and
Elena Krasnov from the Toronto Naturopathic Clinic treats
patients with excessive sweating this way to provide
She makes up a blend of different herbs that can be
diluted in water and drank throughout the day. The idea is
that it cleanses deep lymphatic tissues, improving the
whole system. She reports that several of her patients
have had improvements with this method. You can ask
your naturopath or traditional doctor which mix of herbs
are most effective for you.
If needles don't work, you can always microwave your
armpits. Really. The Miradry system is a device that
selectively heats the interface between the skin and
underlying fat in the axilla.
A 2013 study from S.J. Lee Chung-Ang showed that it was
effective for both axillary hyperhidrosis and axillary
osmidrosis (foul-smelling sweat).
In Chung-Ang's experiment, 11 patients were treated with
Miradry, then evaluated 7 months later for symptom
improvement. 83.3% of underarms experienced a 2-point
improvement on the Hyperhidrosis Disease Severity Scale.
There was a 93.8% success rate with improving the smell
of sweat. It also proved effective across the water,
according to a 2012 University of British Columbia study,
which found it successful in reducing underarm sweat in
over 90% of patients.
7. Make Diet Changes to Curb Sweat
Of course, you can avoid culinary delights that would make
anyone sweat, such as caffeine and spicy foods (two of my
favorites). But Dr. Ben Kim, Toronto-based acupuncturist
and chiropractor makes a good point. That might not be
necessary. It may be that you are reacting to a food
Since sweating is often due to an overly active sympathetic
nervous system, when your body revs up to protect the
tissues from the harmful effects of the unwanted food, it
will activate stress defense mechanisms. One of these
defenses, of course, is sweating.
When your body doesn't have the need to defend itself
against the unwanted substance, it might just stop
perspiring so much. Kim reports that he had a patient who
cut out dairy and a few more things from her diet, and
showed a marked improvement.
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|Aluminum chloride deodorant is effective in
slowing underarm sweating.
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