6 Ways to Limit Sweat Under Your Arms, According to Dermatologists

woman raising her arms


Sweating is a bodily function we all deal with. And for good reason: Sweating is one of the main ways of regulating our internal body temperature. "When sweat is produced, it promotes heat loss through evaporation," board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, explains.

That being said, it's understandable that you may want to limit how much you sweat. Of course, some people sweat more than others (credit good ol' genetics), notes Dr. King, although there are also areas on the body that are universally sweatier for everyone. These include the palms, soles of the feet, and, yep, you guessed it, underarms. Our bodies naturally have a higher density of eccrine and apocrine glands—two types of glands that produce more voluminous amounts of sweat—in the underarm area, explains Jeremy Fenton, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Hence why we tend to feel and often even see so much sweat here.

The good news? There are plenty of ways to limit underarm sweat. Ahead, find six of your best options.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Hadley King is an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist. She is also a Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
  • Dr. Jeremy Fenton is a board-certified dermatologist of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City and Long Beach, New York.
  • Dr. Cameron Rokhsar is a Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai in New York and in private practice in Manhattan and Garden City, Long Island. He is double-board certified in dermatology and dermatologic surgery.  
01 of 06

Use an Antiperspirant

"Topical antiperspirants contain aluminum salts that form a plug in the sweat glands and temporarily block them from producing sweat," explains Dr. Fenton, who adds that they're a good choice for those who sweat an average amount and don't have sensitive skin (aluminum can be irritating).

While you may be used to swiping one on in the morning, consider using it at night. "These work best when applied just before bed so that the aluminum can settle into the gland before the sweating starts," Dr. Fenton says.

If your antiperspirant isn't cutting it, you can upgrade to one of the clinical-strength options available over the counter. He says they contain a higher concentration of aluminum, making them more effective but also increasing the likelihood of potential irritation.

02 of 06

Try a Prescription-Strength Anti-Perspirant

If you experience an above-average amount of sweating and the over-the-counter antiperspirants aren't working well, ask your dermatologist about a prescription-strength version. "These contain the highest aluminum concentration and last longer than their OTC counterparts but can be very irritating," says Dr. Fenton. For that reason, it's often advised to use them only every three days, he explains. (It's also recommended to use these at night for maximum efficacy.)

03 of 06

Ask Your Doctor About Qbrexza

Qbrexza is a form of glycopyrronium that comes on a moistened towel and can be applied daily to the underarms, says Dr. Fenton. He explains that this medication is anticholinergic, meaning it blocks the signals that activate sweat glands. It is a good option for someone with excessive sweating who isn't seeing good results from traditional or prescription antiperspirants and/or wants to avoid any injected or systemic medications. (More on those in a moment.) This is available by prescription only, and Dr. King notes that it must be used as directed to avoid any side effects.

04 of 06

Take Oral Medication

Some anticholinergics can be taken orally. The most common one is glycopyrrolate, according to Dr. Fenton. Whereas Qbrexza wipes are used just under the arms, this prescription pill will reduce overall body sweating for about four to six hours after you take it, he explains. It's an effective option but does carry some risks (like dry mouth and an increased risk of dementia) if taken for long periods, he cautions. So, if this is something you want to consider, have an in-depth discussion with your doctor beforehand.

05 of 06

Consider Botox Injections

Botox is not just for wrinkles. "Botulinum toxin injections work by inhibiting the tiny, microscopic muscles that aid in pumping sweat around the sweat ducts," explains board-certified dermatologist Cameron Rokhsar. While the results are impressive, they're not permanent, typically lasting three to six months, he adds. Still, Dr. King says patients often call the effects 'life-changing' and notes that insurance providers often cover the cost.

06 of 06

Try miraDry

For the longest-lasting results, consider this energy-based treatment. "MiraDry uses microwave technology to heat the layer of skin in the underarms where the sweat glands are to reduce the number of them permanently," says Dr. Rokhsar.

Depending on the severity of the sweating, one to two sessions may be required, each of which can take one to two hours. It's painless (a numbing cream is applied), and while it is expensive (we're talking thousands of dollars), it delivers long-term, dramatic results. "In addition to reducing sweat, the procedure may also decrease the density of hair in the underarm," Dr. Rokshar points out.

  • What triggers armpit sweat?

    A host of factors. As mentioned, genetics play a role—some people simply sweat more than others, says Dr. King. Because sweat's primary function is to regulate body temperature, heat will also make you sweat, as well as physical exertion. There's also a psychological component that can come into play, too. "The sweat glands are under the control of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the fight and flight response. That's why you produce even more sweat under stressful situations," explains Dr. Rokhsar.

  • How can I stop sweating naturally?

    If you want to avoid the ingredients found in antiperspirants, you can stick with deodorants—so long as you keep in mind that they won't actually keep you from sweating. Look for one that contains charcoal; it won't block sweat in the same way that aluminum-based antiperspirants can, but it can absorb moisture, notes Dr. King.

  • What is it called when you sweat under your armpits?

    The technical term for (excessive) underarm sweating is axillary hyperhidrosis.

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