• Sweating is how your body cools you down, and in most cases, it is normal and healthy.
  • About 3% of US adults have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, where they sweat excessively. 
  • To sweat less, use an antiperspirant, stay hydrated, avoid certain foods, and wear breathable clothing. 

Sweating is how your body cools itself down. When you sweat, your body secretes liquid through sweat glands, which cover your skin. 

This liquid is mostly water, but it also contains salt, sugar, and other chemicals. Although your body tries to retain these chemicals, some are lost as you sweat. As sweat evaporates, it cools your skin, lowering your body temperature. This process is also known as perspiration. 

Sweating is normal and healthy, especially when your body temperature rises, like when you're exercising. But sometimes, sweating can be excessive or embarrassing — and there are a few ways you can help stop it. 

What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is sweating that is not caused by exercise or heat and is considered abnormal or excessive. This is often caused by the overactivity of the nerves that send signals to your sweat glands. 

Secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating due to an underlying medical issue such as diabetes, menopause, infections, nervous system issues, and thyroid problems.

Roughly 3% of Americans have hyperhidrosis, where they sweat excessively in the hands, feet, and/or armpits. Other medical conditions, including hormonal disorders, can also contribute to excessive sweating. 

How to sweat less

If you want to sweat less, there are a few tips, tricks, and lifestyle changes that could help.   

1. Use an antiperspirant

An antiperspirant is a topical substance that blocks your sweat glands. Antiperspirants have metals like zinc and aluminum that block the pores from releasing sweat. This is different from a deodorant, which just covers the smell or odor of sweat. 

While antiperspirants are most commonly used on the underarms, they can also be used on the hands, feet, and face for people with hyperhidrosis, a medical condition that causes excessive sweating. 

Stronger antiperspirants are available by prescription, says Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a dermatologist at SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care. 

Consider these tips for using antiperspirants to stop sweating: 

  • Apply before you start sweating. Antiperspirants need to be applied before you start sweating in order to work effectively. "The key is to apply them to dry skin so that they can form a salt crystal in the sweat duct," Shainhouse said. The minerals in the antiperspirant, such as salt, block your sweat ducts and prevent sweat from escaping. 
  • Plan ahead. Antiperspirants can be applied at night, and they will often last into the next day. "Applying an antiperspirant at night is ideal as the body temperature is lower and often skin is drier, allowing for a more effective application," says Tara L. Kaufmann, MD, a dermatologist at Stony Brook University Hospital.
  • Consider shaving. "Shaving your armpit hair can help make antiperspirants more effective and minimize odor from sweating," Kaufmann says.

2. Limit spicy, fatty, or salty foods 

What you eat and drink can affect how much you sweat. According to Kaufman, the following foods can increase sweating: 

  • Spicy foods, like chili or hot peppers. As your body processes hot or spicy foods and drinks, your heart rate can increase, which raises your internal body temperature and causes you to sweat. 
  • Fatty, processed foods, like packaged sausages. Your body needs to work harder to process these fatty foods, which could raise the temperature. 
  • Very salty foods, like potato chips. Your body may try to process extra salt by sweating. 

"Dietary changes to minimize these foods can lead to better body temperature regulation and less sweating," Kaufmann says. 

Instead, you should consume fruits and vegetables, which contain lots of water and can help keep you cool. 

3. Stay hydrated

Drinking water can help cool the body and reduce sweating, Shainhouse says. 

There's a simple way to make sure you're drinking enough water each day. Divide your weight (in pounds) in half — that's how many ounces of water you need. 

Avoid drinks containing caffeine and alcohol, Kaufmann says. Both of these substances can raise your heart rate temporarily, increasing your temperature and making you sweat, which dehydrates you in the process — the opposite of what you want. 

4. Wear breathable clothing

To avoid sweating, you want to keep cool. Opt for loose-fitting clothes made of breathable fabrics, like cotton, linen or moisture-wicking fabric. 

Avoid tight-fitting materials and synthetic fibers like nylon, rayon or silk, which can cause you to be hot and sweat more, Kaufmann says. The color of your clothes likely won't make a huge difference.

5. Keep cool

Your body typically sweats when it's too hot and needs to cool you down. If you want to stop sweating, cooling down your body may be your best bet. If you're indoors, try:

If you're outside and you're trying to cool down, try:

  • Finding some shade under a tree
  • Finding a public space with air conditioning like a library 
  • Drinking cold water
  • Finding a place to swim, like a river or lake

Make sure to stay hydrated and get out of the sun, especially if you think you may be overheating. 

6. Consider medical treatments 

If you're sweating excessively on a consistent basis, it may be time to talk to a healthcare professional. There could be underlying reasons that you're sweating. 

Whether due to a medical issue or overactive sweat glands, there are options for medical treatment. Some of these options include:

  • Topical creams: A doctor may prescribe a topical cream containing glycopyrrolate, which can be used for excessive sweating on the face. 
  • Prescription antiperspirants: Prescription-strength antiperspirants, like Drysol, contain more aluminum chloride than over-the-counter (OTC) options. This ingredient helps block the sweat ducts in many OTC antiperspirants.
  • Botox: Botox injections work by blocking the nerves that signal your body to sweat. It's a temporary solution, as the injections last for 6 to 12 months. 
  • Nerve-blocking medication: There are some medications, like oxybutynin, that can block certain chemical messengers and nerves in your body. 
  • Surgery: There are a few surgical options to stop sweating excessively. There is a surgery to remove sweat glands and nerve surgery to reduce signals for sweating. 

Insider's takeaway

Sweating is natural. However, if you notice that you are sweating without an easily identified cause, you should seek medical attention, Kaufmann said. 

"When someone is sweating heavily for no reason, or the sweating is accompanied by systemic symptoms such as diarrhea or chest pain, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition," Kaufmann says.  "When excessive sweating is bothering you or interfering with your life, I recommend talking to your doctor for a workup and treatment."

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