Our body is designed to sweat in order to help us regulate our internal temperature, especially during periods of excessive heat, exercise and even during illness. When sweat evaporates from the body, it removes excess heat from the body, and we cool down.

Do you have a problem with underarm sweat?

Do you have a problem with underarm sweat?

There are over 2 million sweat glands in the body and the majority of the most effective sweat glands, called the apocrine glands, are found in the underarms, which is why we sweat more from here.

When the natural process of sweating is affected by certain medical conditions this gives rise to excessive sweating, a condition called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is a disease affecting 1% of the general population and can be socially embarrassing as well as interfering with day-to-day lifestyle. Sufferers complain of sweating excessively irrespective of weather, and circumstance, and the bacteria in skin and hair often give rise to an unpleasant odour. As the proteins and fatty acids in sweat give it a further thicker and milkier consistency, this leaves a yellowish stain on clothing which leads to further distress.

Below are some top tips to reduce sweating this summer.

Keep your armpits clean and hair-free:

Sweat itself is odourless, however when the proteins and fatty acids in fat become metabolized by bacteria on skin and hair. This produces an unpleasant odour.

Shower with an antibacterial soap to help reduce bacteria in the underarms and dry the area thoroughly afterwards with a clean towel each time. Damp conditions also allow bacteria to thrive.

Wear loose, cotton and breathable clothing to enable air to circulate easily.

Change your clothing regularly as damp clothing especially around the underarms will cause bacteria to thrive and worsen body odour.

Reduce your consumption of alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods as these cause the sweat ducts to dilate and release more odour.

Avoid foods that come through in sweat such as onions.

Drink lots of water and fresh juices to counter the effects of the foods above and water keeps the body hydrated and cool.

Avoid situations which you feel can cause anxiety and stress:

Stress can lead to excessive sweat production so be aware of circumstances that make you anxious and keep stress levels low.

Use an antiperspirant regularly:

Antiperspirants contain ingredients designed to stop sweating. If you have an odour that is difficult to mask, use a deodorant over this. Over-the-counter antiperspirants containing 10-25% Aluminium Chloride work by temporarily blocking sweat glands. Severe excessive sweating requires prescription-strength formulations which usually contain 30-45% Aluminium Chloride.

Once applied to the skin, sweat breaks down the particles in these antiperspirants into small particles which are the easily absorbed into sweat ducts. These block sweat ducts and slows down the formation and flow of sweat.


This is primarily used for excessive sweating affecting the hands and feet, which are submerged in shallow basins containing water, and an iontophoresis device delivers a low intensity electrical current through to the sweat glands. For the underarms, pads are now available which deliver the electrical current through an electrode. It is unclear as to how this works however one theory suggests that the electrical impulses thicken the outer layer of the skin, which blocks the secretion of sweat from sweat glands. Another theory suggests that the current causes a block in nerve transmission to the glands, which causes them to temporarily stop. The treatment is pain-free and fast, lasting 20-30 minutes, and will need to be repeated several times a week until the desired results are achieved. A maintenance regime is carried out usually once a week

Botulinum toxin type A:

Popularly known as BOTOX®, botulinum toxin type A injections are FDA-approved for the treatment of hyperhidrosis. As this is a prescription medication, you will need to see a Doctor for a detailed medical consultation and clinical assessment to ensure your suitability for treatment. Injections are relatively painless and results can last up to 9 months.

Mira Dry:

The MiraDry procedure is a safe, non-invasive, FDA-proven treatment for lasting improvement to underarm sweating. It delivers focused electromagnetic energy through a hand piece, which penetrates to the areas where sweat glands reside. Heat is generated within the treatment area, which destroys the target sweat glands. The area is numbed with topical anesthetic cream to make the procedure comfortable, and 2 procedures are generally recommended to produce effective and long-lasting results.

Surgical procedures:

Surgical procedures should be a final resort when all other treatment options have failed to alleviate symptoms of hyperhidrosis. The procedure involves dividing the nerves that supply the sweat glands and should only be used in cases affecting the hands and armpits. The procedure is carried out under general anesthesia by a qualified surgeon.

For more information on hyperhidrosis please visit http://www.hyperhidrosisuk.org

Miss Sherina Balaratnam

Surgeon and Medical Director