Bothered By Excessive Underarm Perspiration? Advice From Dr. Herzog

IMG_1740The following question was submitted to Dr. Herzog by a Family Savvy reader.

Dr Jo,

I sweat so much that I can’t wear the clothes that I want to because of underarm rings. I even sweat when not warm or particularly hot.  I have tried every deodorant.  I have spoken to my regular doctor who says that I am perfectly healthy.  Is there anything that I can do so that I can wear nice clothes without ruining them? Hope you can help.


Dr. Jo Herzog

Underarm sweating (and sweating in other areas) is not an unusual problem but can be a terrible problem when excessive. This certainly can begin to control what we wear and how we feel around other people. There are several things that can be done for this and your choice will depend on how severe the problem is and what resources are available to you.

The simple thing to try first is a good antiperspirant. This is not the same as DEODORANT. Deodorant is for smell and antiperspirant is to stop sweating. Most common brands do some of both, but when you do a lot of perspiring, you need one with a a stronger antiperspirant.  Aluminum has been the mainstay of products that work well for perspiring. Aluminum chloride has always been the most common product,  but there are other aluminum products that have been tried, as aluminum chloride can be irritating. Copper has been successfully used as well but is harder to find. Certain Dri has 15% aluminum chloride, while Drysol has 20% aluminum chloride hexahydrate (by prescription).  If used properly, these help most people.

Antiperspirant has to be put on when you are not sweating for it to begin to work. We suggest applying at bedtime and giving it two weeks to start to work before declaring it unsuccessful. If this does not help, you can go on to other measures.

Iontophoresis is done with a machine/device that delivers a low grade electrical current to sweat glands and stops them from working, temporarily. It can take up to 20 days of daily use for this to work. Once you get it going, you can usually decrease frequency of use. Devices can be purchased online. The main disadvantage is time.

There are oral medications, like Robinul,  that decrease sweating. They do sometimes have side effects, as the drugs decrease secretions in multiple organs. Talk to your doctor about this. Botox is very effective when injected under the arms. This has to be done every three to six months. Many insurance companies cover this. The discomfort is minimal and most patients love the relief from sweating and the fact that they are free of worry for months.

Most people can be controlled with one of the above measures, leaving surgical treatment as the last. However, this can be done successfully.

Hope this helps and that you become cool and dry.

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