What Can I Do to Help Control My Sweaty Palms or Underarms?

by Edward Ross, MD

Learn from Scripps dermatologist, Dr. Edward Ross Jr., about hyperhidrosis, more commonly known as sweaty palms or underarms, and the latest options to relieve sweat.

Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, can be unsightly, even embarrassing at times. There are many causes for this condition, so you may need to try a number of options before finding the solution that works for you. If you are concerned there may be an underlying health problem, talk to your physician.

As we all know, sweat can be a function of nervousness, so one key may be finding ways to relax, such as a quick meditation or a few deep breaths. What’s worse, anxiety may actually increase sweat production, so finding ways to relax is a good approach to breaking the cycle.

You should also be mindful of the clothes you wear. Some items may actually make you sweat more. Since your situation is unique, you may need to experiment with different clothing to find what works best. I recommend natural fibers, like cotton and wool, as synthetics tend not to “breathe” as well. Having a spare set of clothes may also help. By providing a backup, it solves the immediate problem of sweaty clothes and may also reduce anxiety.

Also, you may need a better antiperspirant. Again, experiment with different brands. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe a stronger antiperspirant.

There are a couple of medical procedures that can control sweating. Iontophoresis uses electricity to turn down sweat glands and works well on hands and feet. It’s an effective solution but a temporary one. Follow-up treatments will be necessary.

Another potential treatment is botox, which can help block the nerves involved in sweating. Again, botox is effective and temporary, lasting around four months.

More recently a microwave technology has become available (Miradry) for underarm sweating. This device uses a heating and cooling sequence to selectively target sweat glands. The technique is noninvasive but does require a local anesthetic. Sweating typically is reduced by 70 percent and the results are long-lasting.

Liposuction is another approach. In this procedure, a small cannula (a small metal straw like device) is introduced through a small incision. A to and fro motion is then applied by the physician to damage and remove the glands.

This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Edward Ross, MD, a dermatologist at Scripps Clinic in San Diego.