what's the state of the art in underarm sweat solutions?
February 12, 2020 6:59 PM   Subscribe

I have a teenage kid who's apparently very sweaty, to the point of being embarrassed and uncomfortable. Can I help her?

I mean, what more is there to say? Her dad and I are both kinda sweaty, certainly when exerting ourselves. She's got our genes and she's a teenager. She walks to school. By the time she gets there she's uncomfortably sweaty, and it gets worse throughout the day, apparently.

She wears regular solid drugstore antiperspirant - basically what I use and which is fine for me - and says that it's ineffective.

I don't smell her at all (I have a hypersensitive sense of smell and I would know if BO were an issue) but I understand the issue is cosmetic embarrassment; it prevents her from raising her hand in class...

What we've tried:
Qbrexa (works somewhat but we can't afford beyond the samples)
have tried to get Botox approved by insurance; this is not looking likely, plus I'm not sure I'm ok with the potential side effects
that's... it. Have not tried underarm shields, etc -- if you have experience here I'd be grateful to hear it. Thanks!
posted by fingersandtoes to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
can get clinical strength antiperspirant secret in many drugstores and it works pretty well - helps to put it on at night. it's usually sold with regular stuff - sometimes bottom shelf
posted by leslies at 7:04 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]

Yeah here’s a thing from the hyperhidrosis society on clinical strength antiperspirants: sweathelp.org
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:07 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

It’s pricey, but worth saving up for but Miradry. Two treatments solved my issues and I replaced shirts every 3-6 months due to staining issues. It’s permanent and wonderful.
posted by Nackt at 7:14 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

This suggestion assumes that her issue is mainly underarm sweat: Certain Dri anti-perspirant works really well. I used the roll-on version & my armpits were totally dry, even in 90+ degree temperatures with high humidity. Just follow the directions, put it on at night, and do not apply immediately after shaving.
posted by belladonna at 7:16 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]

I swear by Drysol. It's available OTC in Canada, not sure about other places. It can be quite itchy when you first apply it and for some people they can't get past the itch. For me it wasn't a huge deal. At first I had to apply it about once a week, then once a month, and now I probably apply once every 4-6 months. In fact I don't use deodorant anymore since I don't really sweat anymore (not from my pits anyway).

My partner used to wear only dark-coloured items as they would sweat through their shirts and have visible pit sweat marks. After introducing them to Drysol they said it completely changed the game in terms of wardrobe choices - they don't have to shop by colour anymore! Marrying me is the 2nd best thing they got out of meeting me. The 1st is Drysol :)
posted by tinydancer at 7:24 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

When I dealt with this as a crazily hormonal teenager, I carried an extra shirt to school in my backpack so that I could surreptitiously change mid-day. I also had a really lightweight black sweater that I could throw on over a t-shirt and the sweat did not show, I kept that in my locker. Drysol eventually did the trick for me.

Edit: I totally remember the Drysol itch mentioned above. It did work though.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:27 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I work in the performing arts so I have a lot of experience with this topic!

Classic fabric dress shields are a huge pain in the butt- they don't absorb much, and they have a plastic layer so they feel humid and crinkly. They're marketed as re-useable, but they aren't really because when you wash them the cotton side shrinks and then they kind of warp. Plus you need to sew them in with tiny invisible stitches, only in the seams of the shirt, which means all the edges of the liner aren't anchored (or else the stitches would show). With only those few anchor points, the liners tend to bunch up and are really annoying.

This shape looks better, haven't tried it.

You can also use disposable dress shields but in my opinion they aren't that good- while the shape is a good fit, they are fairly expensive. The main problem is that they have sparse strips of adhesive, so when they get damp, they tend to bunch up and fall off.

Much better: two thin panty liners in each armpit of a shirt, applied the long way, and folded over the armscye so 60% of the length is against the ribs, and 40% of the length runs inside the sleeve. That pic shows only one liner, but it's better to use two side by side, and overlap them slightly. U by Kotex Barely There are the absolute best- they're very thin and flexible, they don't fluff apart, and they have adhesive all the way to the edges so they stay stuck.

They work well to prevent wet patches, and also to keep blazer armpits clean and fresh if you wear a sleeveless top.

Make sure to remove the liners from the clothes and discard them at the end of each day- the adhesive will leave residue if you let it sit on the clothing for more than 12 hours or so, ditto if they go through the laundry or dry cleaner.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:10 PM on February 12 [11 favorites]

OTC, I liked Certain Dri as mentioned above.
posted by aramaic at 8:17 PM on February 12

No synthetic fiber clothing.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:23 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

When I was her age, I was pulled aside by a gym teacher who kindly told me that my deodorant was not doing the job. She gave me a tub of Mitchum extra strength (literally comes in a tub; not the stick kind).

It worked, and saved me so much teen embarrassment.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:32 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I'm more of nervous sweater. I used to use the disposable shields (these which is depicted in the image that nouvelle-personne linked above) and never had any issues with them bunching or falling off, but as pointed out they are not as cost effective as panty liners.

Currently I use Secret Clinical Strength antiperspirant at night, and then I use a natural deodorant in the morning after I shower. (The natural deodorant is really not necessary but it makes me feel nice.)
posted by sm1tten at 8:37 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Numi (and similar companies--the classic is the Thompson Tee, but it's slightly less advanced and feels like of like wearing an armpit diaper) make sweatproof undershirts that she might like.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 8:49 PM on February 12

I am VERY sweaty and these are magical. Wipe anywhere you don't want to sweat. I use them on my face and under my arms, and can get away with one application every 5-7 days. No deodorant or anti-persipirant needed in between. It can sting though, especially if you start sweating right after you apply. So only apply at night, and preferably after a cold shower because you do not want to get sweaty after putting this on. After a few hours though you're golden.

For overall body sweat, I have a light, sweat-wicking shirt I wear during my commute and a shirt I put on once I get where I'm going. Bring a change of pants as well if that's also an issue.

Also, the class of meds used to treat hyperhydrosis has unfortunately been linked to the development of Parkinson's. I have the medication but I only take it when I really need it, like if I'm going to a summer wedding. In that case I start a few days before the event and am good to go on the day. Maybe you could get the med and ration it out like this?
posted by schroedinger at 8:50 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Note there are CertainDri roll-on and stick versions with different ingredients. I think the roll-on is stronger/more effective. I don't recommend using it on the forehead however, it somehow leaves a metallic taste in your mouth.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:50 PM on February 12

Mitchum extra strength (literally comes in a tub; not the stick kind)

Mitchum cream in the tub has been discontinued for a while now, at least in North America. There's old stock of the similarly awesome Arrid cream available on Amazon, which might be worth it to investigate in the short term because that stuff is legit.
posted by blerghamot at 9:05 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

i had hyperhidrosis really badly for a while and what helped me is exfoliating all sweaty areas really well, cutting back on caffeine, and taking an Rx drug called oxybutynin extended release, which is for overactive bladder but off label it's used to treat hyperhidrosis.
i don't take it every day, only when i need to dress outside of my daily norm (my usual look is very sweaty person friendly - black, prints, wicking, layers).
when i walked to work in a hot climate, i would change clothes from athletic to dressy upon arriving at work and that helped a lot.
one day i will get miradry, have heard amazing things about it.
posted by zdravo at 9:22 PM on February 12

the thing abt certain dri and other super antiperspirants is that the sweat will still come out, just from other places on her body, in the same amounts, and possibly even more. i am a person who spends the entire summer looking like a law enforcement corpse retrieval team just dragged me up from the river, and trying to use super antiperspirants made me notably worse, which i did not think was physically possible. in order for it to actually make a difference i'd need to be dipped into a river of it like the baby achilles, and the inability of my entire body to sweat would then kill me within minutes.

my only workable solution so far has been to just change my clothes like 3x a day. sometimes more. it's a fucking sloppy soggy hellish nightmare. i wish the entire world was encased in a mile thick sheet of ice like the good old days.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:57 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]

Another vote for MiraDry-- my friend's still only a few weeks post treatment, so can't say for sure, but the immediate effect was pretty great! It's pricy but side effects were limited to hair loss, slightly lumpy armpits, and pain/swelling immediately afterwards...
posted by peppercorn at 10:50 PM on February 12

Nth-ing Certain-Dri. When I was a teenager, my armpits used to sweat through two or three layers of shirts in a few hours. It was uncomfortable as heck. When I switched from solid antiperspirant to Certain-Dri roll-on, the problem went away completely. I did not experience sweat displacement as poffin boffin did, but ymmv obviously. It's worth trying.
posted by henuani at 11:49 PM on February 12

Has she tried changing her shirt when she arrives at school, wiping down pits/back/whatever with a wet washcloth, and then fresh deodorant?
posted by teragram at 2:55 AM on February 13

My sister and I both had great success with Certain Dri, and didn't need to use it for long. Only weekly for a while and then only occasionally. I didn’t notice sweating more else's.
posted by sepviva at 3:59 AM on February 13

IANYD, but ask her doctor for options. I took Ditropan for years, and a very common off label use is for sweating - there may be other options for her too. When I put Qbrexa into GoodRX I got coupons for $600 (?!), a month of Ditropan from Costco seems about $15 (it was super cheap when I was on it too).

Also, natural and moisture wicking fabrics - cotton, linen, and stuff from REI or similar. Things that dry quickly and don't hold odor.
posted by jrobin276 at 4:57 AM on February 13

I was the same until I had kids; it totally sucked. Layering a tight-fitting t-shirt under something a little looser helped hide the issue. And I hid in the bathroom and used these blotting papers on my face several times a day, as well as awkwardly drying my body off with toilet paper. (If she wants to do the latter, bringing a small microfiber washcloth will probably be more effective.)
posted by metasarah at 5:12 AM on February 13

My high school sweating solution was linen shirts and shorts in the summer and sweaters that didn't show sweat in the winter.

As an adult I cycle commuted across a city and found that a 15 minute cool down and then changing clothing in a bathroom stall with a light towel wipe and liberal reapplication of deodorant made me fresher than most of my co-workers.

I'd get around high school peer pressure concerns by doing something like jogging to school to justify the clothing change and towel down. Two birds!

Also, a big thing is to teach your kid that sweat is a completely normal part of being human and that anybody who shames her for it is being a jerk. Control it sure but don't be ashamed of it. It happens to everyone. Giving kids a little reassurance can go a long to help insulate them against social anxieties and empower them against the sweat-police bullies. It might also help break the sweat anxiety vicious cycle.
posted by srboisvert at 6:30 AM on February 13

I'm a pretty sweaty woman and used Certain Dri for a while. I like it, but it can be very irritating and make underarms red and itchy. For the last couple of years I've been using various brands of dry sprays (like this - Dove, Degree, Secret all make them, and every drug store carries them) and they are AMAZING. I walk to/from work every day (about a mile each way) and sweat so much less than I used to, I can get several days out of wearing the same shirt where I used to have to launder them after each wear. And I don't notice that I sweat more from other places when using these.
posted by jabes at 7:43 AM on February 13

I sweat a lot and switching to spray antiperspirant helped a lot.
posted by windykites at 8:53 AM on February 13

I had suuuuuuuper sweaty armpits as a teenager and it turned out to be a low blood sugar issue, which I could mostly control with, like, eating a piece of fruit.

Kinda surprised that this hasn't come up yet in comments; I thought it was common! My situation may be weirder than I realized but throwing this in anyway, in case it's helpful.
posted by Signed Sealed Delivered at 9:27 AM on February 13

It's pricy but side effects were limited to hair loss, slightly lumpy armpits, and pain/swelling immediately afterwards.

just to clarify - you mean armpit hair loss, yes? not head hair? the benefits of this treatment sound better and better tbh.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:57 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah all of the effects are totally localized to the armpits! No head hair loss. No displacement sweat either, but I don't know if that's always true for everyone. If you're considering it please feel free to memail me once you've saved up, etc, and I can let you know if my friend still feels like it's been worth the price/if the effects are holding out.
posted by peppercorn at 10:30 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

If she doesn't mind using a men's product, this spray anitperspirant works really well for me. And doesn't stain the armpits of my shirts.
posted by tacodave at 6:03 PM on February 13

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