Are there medications available to counteract how much I sweat?
July 23, 2013 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Basic facts: male. 30 years old. Very active, eats well. The problem: I have a really bad sweat problem. I will very easily sweat through the back and front of my shirt in this humid weather (I'm located in NYC). What are my options? Are there any medications to counteract the sweating? Is there are certain type of doctor I should talk to? Please help.

On numerous occasions I have had to endure going to business outings and social gatherings that are outside, and I automatically start to sweat. A lot. Most of the time I avoid these gatherings because of how self conscious I am about this problem.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I know Botox works - the stars get it before the awards shows, and I personally know a cvollege student with hyperhydrosis whose parents can afford to get regular injections for her.. I'm sure it's not cost-effective for everybody, though, and I'm not sure what the less expensive, potentially insurance-covered rungs on the ladder are. (I've tried to get Botox covered for migraines after trying many other medications, and the insurance company basically laughed in my face.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:18 PM on July 23, 2013

I am no expert but I found this website. Hope it helps!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:20 PM on July 23, 2013

I don't know about medication that can counteract it, but would definitely rule out blood pressure or excessive stress or sleep deprivation as a contributing factor with your doctor. Among other things, those are just the ones I can thing of offhand.

Stimulants like caffeine and Ritalin make me sweat more, sleep deprivation makes me sweat quite a bit more, alcohol makes me sweat quite a bit more the following day. What helps me is keeping a discrete handkerchief around so I can address it here and there without sitting around in discomfort, drinking cold water and basically having a fan around me whenever possible (whoohoo USB desk fans), and moving slower, as I have a tendency to make fast jerky movements and rush everywhere which gets me heated up fast. Sometimes I'll dump my face in cold water or splash it on my face in an effort to trigger the diving reflex which seems to help knock my heart rate down when I'm bouncing off the walls.
posted by lordaych at 8:20 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

You mentioned not knowing what sort of doctor to see...a good internal medicine doctor should be able to rule out some of the more obvious causes, though they might fixate on something that you strongly disagree with or have a hard time ruling out with them (it happens, often they're right, sometimes not) and then it becomes time for a second opinion or [ideally] specialist. An endocrinologist is probably the best overall specialty but again you want to rule out the basics too, which they might be able to do if you don't need a referral from primary care first. Basic blood panels as you'd get at a health fair or for a detailed checkup might turn something up too.
posted by lordaych at 8:26 PM on July 23, 2013

I feel your pain. I am also a super sweaty person despite being active and fit, eating really well, drinking lots of water blah, blah, blah. I also sometimes have facial flushing in conjunction with the sweating (but not always), I don't know if that is a problem for you as well, but for me they seem to be related, and the more self-conscious I am about it, the worse both the sweating and flushing gets. I saw my GP about this when I was in my 20s, and she diagnosed me as having "an over-active sympathetic nervous system". We tried a very low dose of a beta-blocker, and although that greatly reduced my symptoms, it also made me so tired that I felt like a total zombie. For me, the symptom relief was not worth the dramatic change in my energy level. I've also tried homeopathic belladonna which was recommended to me by a Naturopath (I know most people think homeopathy is total quackery, but it worked briefly for me-maybe 2 months-with no side effects which was nice). Soon enough, however, I was back to my sweaty self, so it wasn't a good long term solution for me. It is a total bummer to have this problem, and I have also experienced embarrassment and shame at public events and at work when I have big sweat stains on my shirt. I have mitigated this by bringing a spare shirt to change into when I get too sweaty, and wearing fabrics/colors that don't show sweat as much (polyester and nylon don't breathe, but they also don't show sweat stains nearly as much as cotton, and black and navy blue do a decent job of keeping visible sweat to a minimum). I do think it would be worth seeing your regular doctor and asking if he/she has any ideas about causes and treatments, or could refer you to someone who does; maybe there is something available now that would be helpful to you.
posted by ezrainch at 9:51 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Talk to your GP about Hyperhidrosis. One treatment is Botox injections to paralyze certain sweat glands across your body. A few of my classmates from high school had to have this done to correct their excessive sweating. Made a big difference if I recall correctly.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:59 PM on July 23, 2013

In addition to botox, I have also seen Laser Sweat Ablation (LSA) as a newer treatment for Hyperhidrosis.

Here are a couple links from a quick Googling. One. Two.

Check in with a doctor for a diagnosis, then they will probably refer you to a dermatologist if you want to do injection or laser treatment.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:11 PM on July 23, 2013

I've seen mostly dermatologists handle this before, and there are treatments available.

My genetics skew heavily towards swarthy, oily, and sweaty, and I know quite a few people with this problem. I wouldn't really consider any of the solutions worth the side effects or risks. Sympathetic surgery, to cut the nerves that cause sweating, various anti-cholinergic medications, botox at the site. I suggest as a first step wick-away underarmor type undershirt, hitting up the bar for plenty of ice water, handkerchiefs, positioning yourself around a/c ducts or fans, and suits in tropical weight fabrics.

Surgery on nerves is always a risky proposition, and is usually only be recommended for sweaty palms, the medications have a million side effects and you rapidly develop a tolerance, not to be alarmist but botox can be fatal, is expensive, rarely covered by insurance, and wears off after 3-6 months.

Of the dozen or so patients I've seen referred out for this, the only person who was happy with the results had surgery (axillary sympathectomy) for the singular complaint of very sweaty palms. I seem to remember the nerves regrew within a few years, but by that time she had outgrown the symptom, or maybe just caring about it.

In summary, the sympathetic nervous system is a very basic, underlying level of human physiology and you really aren't going to be able to target it without affecting everything else.

NB In my experience, it's rare you see a medical specialist with a complaint and they decline to do anything about it, or mention side effects other than a long list of fine print on the consent form, so I think it is important you understand what the (potential, but rare) downsides are before you embark on any medical treatment.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 11:28 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a mild case of this.... just underarm sweating. As an FYI, the "Certain Dri" roll-on antiperspirant has done wonders. Just apply every few days at bedtime and the problem goes away. Nothing else touched it.
posted by Leenie at 1:43 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

+1 Certain Dri. Works wonders! My Hubby suffered from profuse sweating...Certain Dri licked it.
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 3:33 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

ask your doctor about rubinol or oxybutynin, which are prescription (oral medications) used off label to control excessive sweating. oxybutynin has a 5mg extended release version that is quite good for that purpose.

also, if you are diagnosed with hyperhidrosis, chances are botox will be covered by insurance.
posted by zdravo at 5:20 AM on July 24, 2013

I have a rubinol prescription for this exact problem. It took me awhile to figure out the right dosage and it isn't perfect, but it helps a lot. Without it I can easily sweat through the back of my shirt and undershirt even if my forehead isn't sweating at all.
posted by jtfowl0 at 9:44 AM on July 24, 2013

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