Q: No matter what antiperspirant I use, I still sweat through my clothes. It's so embarrassing. What can I do about it?
A: One problem could be the product you're using. Check the label; you'd be surprised at how many people think they're using an antiperspirant/deodorant, a product to help stop you from sweating, but are actually using only a deodorant, a product that only helps prevent odor -- not control wetness. It's an easy mistake to make when you're scanning the store shelves -- particularly if you're in a rush. (Check out a selection of our editors' favorites of both types of products on the next page.) Also, try these three tips to help reduce excessive sweating:
Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. If you sweat through your clothes, it will be less visible on light colors, and a loose fit will allow air to circulate next to your skin.
Don't wear silk or artificial fibers (like nylon and polyester) next to your skin. These can cling to skin and restrict airflow. Instead, wear cotton. In fact, natural cotton perspiration shields can be worn under clothing to provide an extra layer of protection; check out several options (including shields that can be worn with sleeveless clothing and ones that are disposable or washable) at comfywear.com.
Look for an antiperspirant with aluminum chloride. This is the active ingredient in most antiperspirants that works by blocking the pores to prevent sweat from escaping. While you may have heard rumors about aluminum chloride being linked to diseases such as breast cancer, it has never been proven to increase any health risks, says Jim Garza, M.D., founder of The Hyperhidrosis Center in Houston.
If your excessive sweating is consistent, and it happens regardless of your activity level, the temperature or the product you're using, talk to your doctor. It's possible that you could have hyper-hidrosis, a condition that affects about 8 million Americans. People with hyper-hidrosis suffer from extremely sweaty hands, feet and underarms due to over-stimulation of the sweat glands, Garza explains.
If you have do have the condition, your doctor can work with you to investigate treatment options. Drysol, an aluminum-chloride and ethyl-alcohol solution, is available by prescription. It's usually applied at night and washed off in the morning, and should be used until the sweating is under control. Botox, the popular injectable wrinkle remedy, also can be used to control sweating; injected into the skin, it temporarily paralyzes the sweat glands in the treated area. The procedure is done in a doctor's office and needs to be repeated only once or twice yearly -- at a cost of about $600-$700 per treatment.
For more information on surgical and other treatment options for excessive sweating, talk to your doctor or visit The Hyperhidrosis Center Web site, handsdry.com.