Excessive Sweating – Causes, How to Control Sweating During Sleep


Excessive sweating may be caused by various factors. Below, we discuss what causes sweaty hands, palms, legs, scalp, underarms and face. Also discussed are the treatments to stop too much perspiration, natural remedies and tips to prevent and cure the problem fast.

Too much perspiration can be stopped in many ways. There are treatments and products that can be used to stop the problem. Most doctors recommend using antiperspirants such as SweatBlock Antiperspirant to prevent wetting of the underarms, legs, palms and even scalp with sweat. This will always work to stop the nuisance that the sweaty hands and armpits may cause.

What is Excessive Sweating?

Excessive Sweating – Causes and Treatment to Stop Hyperhidrosis - Sweaty Palms
Excessive Sweating – Causes and Treatment to Stop Hyperhidrosis – Sweaty Palms

Excessive sweating is medically known as hyperhidrosis or sudorrhea. It is also referred as polyhidrosis. Normal sweating is very healthy to the body because it helps normalize the temperature even in hot weather, when working out or even when you have a fever. profuse perspiration simply means that you sweat too much or profusely – more than normal.

People who have the problem ofprofuse perspirationwill sweat profusely even when the causes ofprofuse perspirationare not anxiety, hot weather or exercise. The most active parts that may experience excessive perspiration include the

  • Palms –profuse perspirationof hands/palms
  • Armpits – excessive armpit sweating or excessive underarm sweating
  • Feet –profuse perspirationof feet
  • Face and scalp – excessive scalp sweating and excessive face sweating

The Groin area may also experience wetness due to perspiration. All these areas are pointed out because they have more sweat glands than other parts of the body. Aside from the causes, hyperhidrosis is categorized into three:

Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

Also called primary hyperhidrosis or idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a type of profuse perspiration that is localized at a certain point of the body. Focal hyperhidrosis affects specific parts of the body. In most cases, this type  perspiration affects the palms (hands), face or scalp, soles of the feet and armpits (also called axillae hyperhidrosis). For primary excessive sweating, the body tends to sweat normally but the areas where localized sweating happens experience too much sweating.

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This kind of sweating is symmetrical so that both feet, both armpits and both palms sweat profusely at the same time. So, what are the causes of profuse perspiration that is localized around underarms, feet, scalp or face and hands? Well, according to Medical News Today, the exact cause of profuse perspiration of this kind is not known yet. Any other conditions are not associated with it either.

  • Sweat glands in this areas are hyperactive than those on the other parts of the body
  • It is believed that one of the causes of profuse perspiration of this kind is genetics (hereditary factors)
  • It develops under the age of 25, though it can strike just at any age in both men and women.
  • Severity varies and it may be on and off. Sometimes, profuse perspiration is made worse by various known causes. These causes of profuse perspiration include spicy foods, emotions, dressing, anxiety and heat. We will look at the causes of profuse perspiration in detail.
  • No testing is done to determine the causes of profuse perspiration of this kind. However, a doctor may prescribe any of the treatments for profuse perspiration (discussed below). Normal antiperspirants may help, though not always.

Secondary Focal Hyperhidrosis

This type of profuse perspiration is not so common but it occurs in a particular localized area of the body. The difference between secondary focal profuse perspiration is not really in the causes, but is that the cause of secondary focal hyperhidrosis is known. According to Patient UK, spinal injuries or diseases may be part of the causes of profuse perspiration on one leg.

This kind of sweating is not symmetrical as discussed in primary focal hyperhidrosis. It is important to note that when you sweat profusely on one hand, leg or a particular part of your body, there could be an underlying medical condition. You should see a doctor for some tests to determine the underlying causes of profuse perspiration (for secondary focal hyperhidrosis)

Generalized Hyperhidrosis

The causes of profuse perspiration that is termed as generalized hyperhidrosis are either known or can be determined.  This kind of sweating is much less common than the other two. For this type, a person sweats excessively or profusely all over the body. Various conditions may be the underlying causes of profuse perspiration here. They may include anxiety disorders, nerve damage in the spinal cord, certain medications, diabetes, heart problems, and hormonal problems such as overactive thyroid gland etc. to profuse perspiration that is generalized will depend on the causes.

According to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, approximately 3% of England’s population suffers from profuse perspiration. On the other hand, the International Hyperhidrosis Society reports that 3% of the world’s population is affected by any one of the three types of profuse sweating. So, what are the causes of profuse perspiration in general?

General Causes of Excessive Sweating

As we have seen in a nutshell, the causes of profuse perspiration can range from those that are not known to those that are known, or as said before, underlying causes that may cause profuse sweating but are not necessarily the direct causes. High humidity causes sweatiness, so is fever, anxiety and high temperatures.

The following are some of the causes.

Emotional Conditions

When you sweat profusely, it could be because of an underlying emotional problem or mental health issue. Anxiety disorders such as panic attacks are sometimes major causes of profuse sweating in individuals. Sweating excessively may also occur as a result of undergoing a certain period of your life that could be depressing or stressful.

It is very important to identify this as the cause of profuse perspiration before trying to go for treatments for excessive sweating. A therapist may help you determine the cause before suggesting any cures for excessive sweating. Normally, medications for profuse sweating caused by emotional reasons may be prescribed, and will most likely include antidepressants.

Physical Ailments

Medical conditions also fall into the pool of the various causes of excessive sweating. When you start to experience too much sweating, it could mean you have diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, lung disease and more. Sometimes, profuse perspiration is a symptom of another serious infection or disease. If you feel that the excess perspiration is not related to physical activity, emotional reasons or climatic changes, it would be a good idea to see a doctor. The following is a list of some of the conditions that may cause secondary hyperhidrosis:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Respiratory failure                      
  • Shingles
  • Gout
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Some cancers e.g. Hodgkin’s disease  
  • Malarial infections
  • Tuberculosis


Both over the counter and prescription medications may cause excessive sweating. Some of the medications will have leaflets that clearly state that one of the side effects is abnormal sweat amounts. Your doctor is likely to change your prescription in case the medication does not work. In case you already have the profuse perspiration condition, ensure that you tell your doctor before getting any prescription for other medical conditions. This will prevent taking more medications that fall that may lead to the problem.

Hormonal Changes

Abnormal perspiration may also be caused by hormonal changes in the body. Most women in their menopause experience hot flashes that is characterized by excess perspiration and flushed skin. Pregnancy, as seen on the list provided, could also be a reason for hormonal changes in the body, which might cause excess sweating.

Excess Weight

As we have already noted, obesity or excess weight could be contributory. The body works harder for normal functioning when you have excess weight, so that is likely to cause excess sweating. Most people who experience excess sweating in the armpits are likely to have excess weight. Exercising to lose that excess weight is highly recommended if you want to control profuse perspiration caused by extra weight.

Hot Caffeinated Drinks

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and is likely to cause an increase in perspiration. The heat from the drink itself can also cause your body to heat more and start sweating profusely. It is recommended that if you have problems with localized sweating, avoid taking caffeinated drinks such as cappuccino because they fall on the list.

Synthetic Fabrics Increase Perspiration

When you wear clothes made of polyester and acrylic, you are likely to experience too much sweating than normal. Synthetic fabrics are considered temporary causes of profuse perspiration because they prevent sweat from evaporating, which makes the body to increase its efforts to cool itself. In the end, you will sweat even more. Swap out synthetic fabrics with natural ones such as cotton and silk to keep you dry.

Spicy Foods and Excessive Sweating

Spicy Foods may increase excessive sweating
Spicy Foods may increase excessive sweating

Eating entrée full of hot pepper might be a fine idea, but as soon as you have a bite, you are likely to see a bead of sweat on your face. Your body will put your sweat glands to work because it thinks that your body is hot and needs to cool down. Too much garlic is also considered as a cause of excessive sweating.

Self-Tanner and Sunscreen

For people who do self-tanning and put on sunscreen, profuse perspiration might be something they experience from time to time. Sunscreen and self tanners create a barrier on the skin making it hard for sweat to leave the sweat pores and cool the body. As the body remains hotter, more sweat will be produced.

Alcohol and Cigarettes are Causes of Excessive Underarm Sweating

Doctors say that alcohol dilates the blood vessels and brings them closer to the skin surface. As more heat will need to be lost to the environment, you might experience excessive sweating. Such causes of profuse perspiration are not common in all people experiencing the problem, but some people will surely experience dampening from sweat due to drinking. Nicotine in cigarettes too is likely to increase sweating.

Excessive Sweating Cures/Treatment Options

Whether the causes of profuse perspiration are medications, unknown or temporary, you might want to explore profuse perspiration treatments and medications to help you stop profuse sweating. In this section, we will discuss various options to help you stop excessive sweating.

Treatment for Primary Hyperhidrosis

There is not treatment for profuse perspiration called primary hyperhidrosis because the causes are not determined yet. Lifestyle changes might help stop profuse perspiration of this kind. The measures may include: Antiperspirants for excessive sweating: Deodorants will not stop excessive sweating, neither will they cure profuse perspiration and their underlying causes. Antiperspirant sprays will work as good cures. Over the counter prescriptions of antiperspirants, especially those with aluminum chloride will help control too much perspiration.

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Armpit Shields to get rid of excessive sweating
Armpit Shields to get rid of excessive sweating

Armpit Shields: These are commonly used to reduce or stop underarm excessive sweating. They are pads worn under the arms to protect garments from soaking in sweat. Clothing and Shoes: Nylon clothing as discussed above are causes of excessive sweating. Avoid them and instead use natural fibers. Shoes too can be part of the causes. Avoid wearing shoes made of synthetic material.

Replace those with leather.

Socks: Like clothes and shoes, your choice of socks may also be one of the causes. In order to stop the problem, wear thick, soft socks made of natural fiber. Avoid socks made from synthetic fibers. Triggers: We have already discussed some of the trigger causes of profuse perspiration above. Avoid certain foods and spices that cause it. Avoid smoking and cut down on drinking in order to stop the problem.

Other Cures to Stop Excessive Sweating

Botox Injections to Stop Excessive Sweating
Botox Injections to Stop Excessive Sweating

In case these ways on how to stop excessive sweating, a doctor or a skin specialist may prescribe treatments for profuse perspiration such as the following:

  • Iontophoresis treatment which is effective for stopping palm and feet perspiration.
  • Botox Injections treatment
  • Surgery, also called ETS (Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy)
  • Anticholinergic drugs

We have covered all these methods on how to get rid of profuse perspiration in a detailed article on cures for hyperhidrosis. In order to determine the type of profuse perspiration problem a person has, a thermoregulatory sweat test may be done first. Ensure that you see a doctor in case simple ways on how to stop profuse perspiration do not work for you. The most important thing is to determine the underlying causes of profuse perspiration so that you know how to combat the problem.

More on profuse perspiration – Hyperhidrosis

  • Sweaty Feet – Causes, Prevention and Cures of Profuse Sweating
  • Sweaty Armpits – Causes, Prevention and Cures for Axillary Hyperhidrosis
  • Cure for profuse perspiration – Treatment Options
  • Sweaty Palms – Causes, Prevention and Cure for Sweaty Hands