Sweating is one of those awkward beauty issues that we don’t have control over or enjoy talking about – but it’s something we deal with daily. I have a friend who actually never sweats. It could be a 30°C day and while the rest of us mortals reapply our translucent powder and pull out a load of blotting papers, her make-up remains perfectly matte. It’s always been a wonder to me and it got me thinking – how much sweat is normal and is there such a thing as excessive sweating? I did some digging and spoke to Director at Brisbane Skin and Specialist Dermatologist Dr Shobhan Manoharan to find out more.
What causes excessive sweating?
So it turns out there is a scientific name for excessive sweating. It’s known as hyperhidrosis (HH) and it can be primary or secondary. Primary HH is when there is an overactivity in the part of the brain that controls your body’s temperature, causing the sweat glands to produce more sweat than usual. Dr Manoharan says this can be made worse by anxiety, exercise, weather and spicy foods.
Secondary HH occurs when neurological conditions such as a tumour, stroke or hormonal problems are present. It can also take place when drugs such as antidepressants, caffeine or amphetamines are in the system.
Can excessive sweating be prevented?
Dr Manoharan’s tips for helping to reduce excessive sweating include:
- Avoid spicy foods, caffeine and drugs/medication
- Wear loose fitting cotton clothing
- Reduce synthetics (if possible)
- Keep cool in warm weather
- Reduce anxiety levels
If excessive sweating continues despite taking these measures, Dr Manoharan recommends seeing a specialist dermatologist who can offer a wide range of successful treatments. These include:
- Creams and tablets
- Iontophoresis for palm/sole sweating
- miraDry treatment
- Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (surgical option as a last resort)
Does where I sweat mean something?
It turns out that genetics may play a role in where you tend to sweat more. Dr Manoharan says it’s a very individual thing and it varies from person to person, but bilateral axillary (armpit) HH and palmoplantar (hands/feet) HH are the most common forms of sweating. When you exercise, sweating is often worst on the scalp, (finally an explanation as to why I look like I’ve just washed my hair after a workout!) as well as the trunk and armpits. Anxiety-related sweating is “often localised to [the] palms, armpits and face”.
Dr Manoharan shares a fun fact: there’s a condition known as Frey’s syndrome which occurs when there is nerve damage in the cheek area and results in sweating and flushing whenever the individual is hungry. I don’t know about you but if I suffered from Frey’s syndrome I’d pretty much be sweating all the time!
Thankfully, no matter how much you sweat there are plenty of products to help prevent excessive sweating. This way you can keep your armpits smelling fresh and your hair clean, even after a workout! Here are a few of our top picks:
Have you ever had an issue with sweating? What’s your go-to deodorant?