When to See a Doctor for Excessive Sweating
Your body naturally sweats (perspires) to cool itself off, but hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) can negatively affect your daily life and may even be a sign of a serious, underlying medical condition. Hyperhidrosis refers to extreme, constant or episodic sweating beyond normal levels. Like many other health conditions, there are a few natural remedies for excessive sweating that may offer relief. But, many people may not realize the potential seriousness of the condition or that they need to see a doctor for excessive sweating treatment. Knowing the causes (oftentimes treatable), warning signs and symptoms of hyperhidrosis can help you make an informed decision about seeking medical care.
Exercising and being outdoors in hot weather can provoke an episode of excessive sweating, but that’s normal. What’s not normal is to sweat excessively absent any environmental, physical or emotional stressors. For many people, hyperhidrosis mainly affects the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis) and the soles of the hands and feet (palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis).
In many cases, the cause of hyperhidrosis remains unknown after diagnosis—a condition called primary or focal hyperhidrosis. Overactive nerves for sweat glands cause the primary type. Other times, excessive sweating indicates a co-existing medical issue.
Medical conditions that can cause hyperhidrosis include:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Spinal cord injury
Before you investigate natural remedies for excessive sweating or home treatments for hyperhidrosis, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical cause. Plus, people who sweat excessively face a higher risk of developing bacterial and fungal infections due to the constantly moist environment.
If you receive a diagnosis of primary or focal hyperhidrosis, you have several treatment options. Your first line of defense against excessive sweating may be a strong antiperspirant. Choose one that contains at least 10% aluminum chloride hexahydrate. These products effectively block sweat glands so your skin stays dry. Even though it isn’t a natural remedy for excessive sweating, it is an over-the-counter treatment to try at home without a prescription.
Keep in mind most hyperhidrosis natural remedies have not been scientifically validated. But some people find relief with these natural or alternative hyperhidrosis treatments:
- Herbs known for their calming properties, such as chamomile
- Stress-reduction techniques
Most people should see a doctor to diagnose the cause of their hyperhidrosis before trying to treat the condition on their own.
Call 911 for emergency medical attention for excessive sweating accompanied by:
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of consciousness, lightheadedness or severe confusion
- Unexplained weight loss
In other cases, you can make an appointment with a doctor for hyperhidrosis symptoms that include:
- Excessive sweating even while at rest
- Sudden increase in sweating
- Sweating that regularly causes emotional distress or disrupts your daily activities
- Unexplained night sweats
Many people wonder what doctor to see for excessive sweating. You can start the diagnostic process with your primary healthcare provider. Another option is a dermatologist (be sure to check with your health insurance company to find out if you need a referral). Dermatologists are trained to diagnose and treat hyperhidrosis and can refer you to a different specialist if your hyperhidrosis is due to another medical condition.
Excessive sweating can cause social embarrassment and increase your risk of developing skin infections, but thankfully it can be treated effectively by a dermatologist. If you sweat too much (or think you do), take care of yourself and seek medical care for this manageable condition. A doctor can prescribe stronger antiperspirants as well as discuss with you other treatments like Botox injections, nerve blocks, and antidepressants.