Health Conditions A-Z Skin, Hair & Nail Conditions Hyperhidrosis What Is Axillary Hyperhidrosis? It's a condition where a person sweats a lot from their armpits. By Cathy Cassata Cathy Cassata Cathy Cassata's Instagram Cathy Cassata's Twitter Cathy Cassata's Website For more than 10 years, Cathy Cassata has written stories about health, mental health, medical news, and inspiring people. health's editorial guidelines Updated on May 16, 2023 Medically reviewed by Kelly Wood, MD Medically reviewed by Kelly Wood, MD Kelly Wood, MD, is a board-certified endocrinologist with a special interest in osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. learn more Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Pinterest Email this page Excessive underarm sweating is a condition known as axillary hyperhidrosis. In general, hyperhidrosis affects around 3% of Americans. The excessive sweat occurs when the body doesn't need to be cooled down. The causes for excessive armpit sweating remain unknown. However, the condition is possibly due to a problem with the body's regulation system for sweating. This type of hyperhidrosis has primary and secondary types, though most cases are of the primary type. Hyperhidrosis is also not preventable, but there are ways to help treat and manage the condition and the bodily areas it affects. Getty Images Symptoms A person with profuse underarm sweating might see or feel a lot of sweat when they're not actively moving around. Their clothes may be soaked under their arms, and their skin may feel wet for long periods of time. A person with axillary hyperhidrosis could also experience frequent skin infections. Causes Excessive underarm sweating not caused by another medical condition is referred to as primary axillary hyperhidrosis. It's also possible for people to develop sweaty armpits due to generalized, or secondary, hyperhidrosis. Of note, secondary hyperhidrosis can be focal—meaning that it happens in a specific area—but this type of the condition occurs less commonly. Though not completely understood, there seems to be a genetic component to primary hyperhidrosis. Still, the exact causes of the condition are unknown. There is a reason for how hyperhidrosis can happen. Eccrine sweat glands are found in the axillae, palms, soles, or face. These glands respond to sympathetic nerve signals during physical and psychological stress. However, hyperhidrosis causes the sympathetic nervous system to overreact, leading to increased sweat. Risk Factors for Axillary Hyperhidrosis Some factors increase the likelihood that someone will have hyperhidrosis, including: Family history of excessive sweatingMedical conditions that result in sweatingMedicines or foods that lead to hyperhidrosis Also, primary hyperhidrosis tends to start during childhood. Why You Sweat So Much and What You Can Do About It Diagnosis A dermatologist will ask questions about a person's symptoms and medical history when diagnosing the condition. In some cases, testing may not be required. In other cases, a dermatologist may give a sweat test using a powder that changes color when the skin becomes wet. Healthcare providers may suspect hyperhidrosis if a person has excessive sweating without cause for at least six months. They may also consider the condition when two or more of the following criteria are met: Bilateral, symmetrical sweating at least once per weekExcessive sweating onset before 25 years oldFamily history of hyperhidrosisLack of sweating during sleep Treatments There are a variety of treatments for axillary hyperhidrosis, which are designed to control how much a person sweats and improve their quality of life. A dermatologist can work with you to find the best treatment option. Antiperspirants Because antiperspirants are the least invasive and are inexpensive, they are often the first type of treatment healthcare providers will use for treatment. When antiperspirant is applied, the sweat in that area grabs onto it, pulling antiperspirant particles into the pores under the skin. This causes the sweat ducts to "plug," which tells your brain to stop sending messages to sweat in that area. Botox Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat primary axillary hyperhidrosis. These injections can temporarily block the nerves responsible for sweat. miraDry MiraDry is an FDA-approved device to treat this kind of hyperhidrosis. It uses microwave technology to destroy sweat glands in the underarm without damaging the skin. While two treatments are sometimes enough, some people may benefit after more sessions. What Are Night Sweats—And What Causes Them? Oral Medications Prescription medications taken by mouth can help stop the sweat glands from producing sweat temporarily. Anticholinergics, such as oxybutynin, are oral medications that can be used for hyperhidrosis. Just be aware that these medications can cause side effects such as dry mouth, muscle cramps, and urinary retention. Topical Wipes Qbrexza is FDA approved to treat axillary hyperhidrosis. These cloths are used once per day on the underarm. The active ingredient is an anticholinergic called glycopyrronium tosylate. Underarm Surgeries Underarm surgery can also be an option for treating excessive underarm sweating. Common techniques include: Excision, which involves cutting out sweat glandsCurettage, in which sweat glands are scraped outLiposuction, involves suctioning out sweat glandsLaser, in which sweat glands are vaporized Dermatologists may use different combinations of each surgery. Because these surgeries permanently remove or damage sweat glands, they can have long-lasting effects. What Is Generalized Hyperhidrosis? How Preventable Is Axillary Hyperhidrosis? Because excessive armpit sweating typically falls under primary hyperhidrosis, the condition is not preventable. There is no way to avoid primary hyperhidrosis in general. Also, secondary hyperhidrosis is often unpreventable. Still, if a person has secondary axillary hyperhidrosis, there may be ways to eliminate symptoms. That may involve actions like switching medications or not consuming food or drinks that lead to excessive sweating. Complications When individuals have hyperhidrosis in general, it can lead to the following: Disability in school or work situationsEmbarrassment in social situationsEmotional and psychological distress Living With Axillary Hyperhidrosis The prognosis for hyperhidrosis is relatively poor, particularly in more severe cases. This is because it can come with societal, emotional, and psychological complications above. Although treatment is not always effective, it can still help you manage your symptoms. Antiperspirants can be beneficial when applied before going to bed and when following a dermatologist's guidance on how to use them. Also, keeping a sweat journal to learn what your sweat triggers can be useful for having a little control over sweating. Is Sweating Good For You? Experts Weigh In A Quick Review When your underarms sweat excessively, it's a condition known as axillary hyperhidrosis. The exact cause is unknown, and some factors—like family history of the condition—increase how likely it is for a person to have it. Having the condition can also be embarrassing and distressing, and because it is often the result of primary hyperhidrosis, there's no way to prevent it. Fortunately, there are various treatments you can try, such as antiperspirants and underarm surgery, that can reduce how much you sweat if you have the condition. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit 10 Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Brackenrich J, Fagg C. Hyperhidrosis. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2023. American Academy of Dermatology. Hyperhidrosis: signs and symptoms. Lenefsky M, Rice ZP. Hyperhidrosis and its impact on those living with it. Am J Manag Care. 2018;24(23 Suppl):S491-S495. American Academy of Dermatology. Hyperhidrosis: who gets and causes. American Academy of Family Physicians. Hyperhidrosis. Arora G, Kassir M, Patil A, et al. Treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis. J of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2022;21(1):62-70. doi:10.1111/jocd.14378 American Academy of Dermatology. Hyperhidrosis: diagnosis and treatment. US Food and Drug Administration. Botox label. US Food and Drug Administration. Qbrexza label. American Academy of Dermatology. Hyperhidrosis: tips for managing.