Sweaty armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis)
The medical name for sweaty armpits is axillary hyperhidrosis. Axillary hyperhidrosis tends to occur after the commencement of puberty1.
Around half of the people who suffer from focal hyperhidrosis have sweaty underarms - or axillary hyperhidrosis1. Axillary hyperhidrosis can have a big impact on sufferers: unsightly underarm stains can cause embarrassment; it restricts clothing choices - both fabric and colours; it can reduce the effective life-span of clothes; and it can contribute to body odour that can cause further embarrassment and social isolation.
Treatments for underarm sweat
1st line: Antiperspirant with high aluminium content
It is good to start with a clinical strength antiperspirant e.g. Driclor or Rexona Clinical Protection (containing around 20% aluminium). These can be bought from a supermarket or over the counter at a pharmacy. It is best to apply them at night prior to bed since you tend to sweat less overnight and it is more efficacious. It can result in localised irritation of the skin which might limit its use.
2nd line: PBS listed anti-hyperhidrosis treatment
If the clinical strength antiperspirants are not effective or cause localised irritation then it is good to have a clinical assessment at a clinic that specialises in hyperhidrosis. After assessment, if injections would be the best option and they would be conducted on the same day as your clinical assessment. A study has revealed that the injections reduce sweating by 76.5% at 2 weeks and 98% of patients treated would recommend the treatment to a patient with axillary hyperhidrosis2.
The treatment usually lasts between 6 to 9 months. The cost of the procedure is now covered by Medicare and PBS. Patients usually notice a difference 4 days post-treatment however the full effect usually takes one to two weeks. The procedure is conducted after applying topical anaesthetic cream to minimise discomfort. The only side effect documented in the literature is an increase in sweating in another region following treatment (compensatory sweating). From our experience this is very rare (since the region treated is very small) and in the hundreds of patients we have treated this has not occurred.
Please note: these are only guidelines and your treating doctor will discuss the treatment(s) most appropriate for you.
- Lear W, Kessler E, Solish N, et al. (2007). An epidemiological study of hyperhidrosis. Dermatol Surg; 33: S69-75
- Heckman M, Ceballos-Baumann, A and Plewig G (2001). ...for Axillary Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating). NEJM; 344:488-493
Still sweating? Get in touch!
If you have tried using a clinical strength anti-perspirant and are still suffering sweat problems then we can help. Contact us now to book an appointment for treatment at one of our clinics (or if you have any questions) using the form on the right-hand side of this page.