Everybody sweats. It’s an important part of your body’s cooling system and it keeps you from overheating.
Lots of things can get you sweating, such as hot weather, exercise, or even spicy foods. You might sweat in stressful situations or when you have fever.
Most of the time, sweating serves its purpose rather quickly. We cool down, stop sweating, and give it no further thought.
Persistent sweating can be a problem. In fact, research shows that excessive sweating can affect all aspects of your life.
Let’s look at some of the reasons you may sweat so easily and what kinds of treatment options are available.
Maybe you have extremely sweaty palms. Or perhaps it’s your feet, underarms, or face that perspire even when the weather is cool and you’re not exercising.
If you often sweat easily, it can be emotionally and physically disruptive to your daily life. There are two main types of excessive sweating:
- Primary hyperhidrosis has no distinct medical cause.
- Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by a medical condition like diabetes, an infection, or hormonal changes, or possibly as a result of medication you’re taking.
Abnormal sweating with no medical cause is called primary focal hyperhidrosis. It can cause general sweating or sweating isolated to one or more areas, such as your:
- armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis)
- groin area
- area under the breasts
You might sweat way more in the heat compared to others. You may also sweat long after exercising or when you’re feeling stressed. The term “flop sweat” refers to profuse sweating due to embarrassment or anxiety.
Or, you might sweat for no reason at all. It happens because overactive nerves get the sweat glands going even though you don’t need cooling.
Primary hyperhidrosis usually starts around puberty and seems to run in some families, so there may be a genetic link.
Hot flashes can make you sweat all over, particularly on your face, head, and chest. You might wake up suddenly in the night to find your whole body drenched in sweat.
Flushing and night sweats can also happen during pregnancy.
Increased sweating may also be due to a hormonal imbalance. Some other symptoms of a hormonal imbalance can include:
- weight gain
- heightened sensitivity to cold or heat
- dry skin
- constipation, or more frequent bowel movements
- racing heartbeat
Excessive sweating can also be a side effect of insulin or other diabetes medications.
Sweating can be a sign of an infection. Some examples of infections that may cause sweating include:
- Tuberculosis. Other symptoms of tuberculosis can include coughing up blood, chest pain, unexplained fatigue, and fever.
- Endocarditis. Endocarditis is a condition that causes inflammation of your heart’s inner lining. Besides night sweats, other symptoms can include fever or chills, pale skin, muscle or joint pain, nausea, and a feeling of fullness in the upper left part of your abdomen.
- Osteomyelitis. Besides sweating, this bone infection can also cause pain, redness, and swelling of the affected area. It can also cause fever and chills, stiffness, and irritability.
Sweating more than usual can also be a side effect of several types of medications, including:
There are many other conditions that can make you sweat more easily, including:
- anxiety disorders
- autoimmune disorders
- autonomic neuropathy
- HIV and AIDS
- Hodgkin’s disease
- non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- thyroid disorders
- alcohol withdrawal
- marijuana, cocaine, or opioid withdrawal
If your sweating is moderate, there may be a few things you can do to keep your sweating under control. For instance, you could:
- Keep your environment cool and comfortable, especially at night.
- Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and other foods that tend to induce sweating.
- Use clinical-strength antiperspirants.
- Choose loose-fitting clothes made from natural fabrics.
- Wear shoes and socks made from natural materials. Try sandals, moisture-wicking socks, and airing out your feet during the day.
- Keep an absorbent handkerchief or small towel handy to wipe away sweat and keep your skin dry.
- Invest in a portable fan you can easily move around.
Occasional excessive sweating is probably no cause for concern, especially if it happens during warmer weather or after you’ve had a strenuous workout.
But there are situations when sweating too easily or too much warrants a visit to your doctor. Be sure to see your doctor if:
- You often sweat excessively, even though it’s not hot and you’re not exerting yourself.
- Your skin is turning white or peeling due to lingering wetness.
- You frequently have jock itch, athlete’s foot, or other skin infections due to excess sweating.
- You have other new, unexplained symptoms.
- Nothing you do is helping to control your sweating.
- Excessive sweating is causing emotional distress and interfering with your life.
Your doctor will probably start with a physical exam. Results of the exam, along with your clinical history, will inform the next steps. You may be screened for diabetes, infection, hormonal imbalance, or other illnesses that can cause sweating.
A sweat test can help identify areas and severity of sweating. This involves coating your skin with a substance that changes color when you sweat.
When to get immediate medical attention
If sweating is accompanied by chest pain, nausea, or lightheadedness, seek immediate medical help. These symptoms could be warning signs of a heart attack or another serious condition.
If your sweating is caused by an underlying condition, your doctor will need to address that first. Treating the underlying issue may help resolve excessive or unusual sweating.
When there’s no apparent cause, your doctor may prescribe treatment to help keep your sweating under control. This may include:
- Prescription-strength antiperspirant, topicals, or cloth wipes.
- Antidepressants, which can help you sweat less while decreasing anxiety that prompts more sweating.
If sweating can’t be controlled and continues to be problematic, there are other options, such as:
- Botulinum toxin injections. Botox injections may help to temporarily block the nerves that stimulate your sweat glands.
- Iontophoresis. This medical device temporarily blocks your sweat glands by delivering mild electrical currents to your hands or feet while they’re submerged in water.
- Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. This minimally invasive surgery involves cutting the sympathetic nerve. This can reduce sweating of the armpits and palms, as well as facial sweating and blushing.
- Sweat gland removal surgery. If nothing else works, the sweat glands under your armpits can be surgically removed. This won’t stop you from sweating in other areas, though.
Sweating too easily can affect all aspects of your life. If there’s an underlying condition causing you to sweat more than usual, treatment for that illness may solve the problem.
If no cause can be found, there are other treatment options. These include prescription medication and prescription products, nerve blocking injections, and surgery.
If you’re sweating too easily, be sure to follow up with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to help you understand the treatment options that may work best for you.