What are the causes of excessive sweating? How to manage it?

What are the causes of excessive sweating? How to manage it?
Photo source: Getty images

Sweating (hydrosis) is a natural phenomenon. Sweat is produced by sweat glands in the skin. Its secretion cools the body.

Characteristics of excessive sweating

An increase in body temperature above 37 °C causes a significant increase in sweating and thus heat loss through evaporation.

The increased temperature in the anterior hypothalamus (part of the brain) causes activation of specific nerve fibres that innervate the sweat glands (located in the skin on the surface of the body).

Increased sweat secretion occurs in a variety of situations.

Sweat is produced when sweating. Sweat is formed in the skin sweat glands.

Sweat contains water, salt and small amounts of other substances (urea, lactic acid, etc.). It is therefore important in regulating body temperature.

The increased production of sweat and its evaporation cools the surface of the body. This occurs, for example, during increased exertion or fever. However, sweat is also produced at rest and at normal temperature.

Large fluid losses can lead to dehydration. In this case, it is necessary to replenish the lost water and ions, e.g. with ionic drinks.

The secretion of sweat from the sweat glands is regulated primarily by the autonomic (spontaneous) nervous system.

Increased sweating can lead to states of irritation of the autonomic nervous system:

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Uneasiness Nausea
  • Exercise
  • Overheating

Sweating can be:

  • None - anhidrosis
  • Reduced - hypohidrosis
  • Increased - hyperhidrosis

Anhidrosis occurs with burns, dehydration or some nerve and skin diseases.

Sweat glands are the sweat-producing glands in the skin. They are divided into:

  1. Eccrine - They respond primarily to an increase in temperature followed by evaporation.
  2. Apocrine - They develop at puberty. They respond to stress or sexual arousal. They are found in exposed areas such as the armpits. They are involved in the characteristic odor.

Interesting facts

Some people sweat more than others. Body odour varies from person to person.

Changes in body odour can indicate disease.

Health benefits of sweating include detoxifying heavy metals, eliminating chemicals, cleansing bacteria, or helping with exertion.

Glycoproteins in sweat bind bacteria and help get them out of the body.

Sweat has no smell.

The smell of sweat comes later when bacteria or hormones get into the sweat.

We can get a natural smell by drinking baking soda, green tea, apple cider vinegar, or lemon drink.

Sweating in menopause is related to a drop in estrogen levels.

In some diseases, the smell of sweat is more pronounced. These include liver disease, diabetes mellitus or thyroid disease.

Source: Getty Images


Hyperhidrosis means excessive heavy sweating during the day or night. It can be caused by low blood sugar, nervous disorders or thyroid disorders.

Hyperhidrosis can be:

  • Primary focal - Occurs only on a specific part of the body. Appears from childhood onwards. The cause is unknown, although some genetic link has been established.
  • Secondary generalized - Occurs on several parts of the body simultaneously, often symmetrically on both sides. Occurs in other diseases (psychiatric disorders, obesity, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, stroke...).

Hyperhidrosis can lead to cosmetic changes on the skin. It causes psychological problems, deteriorating the overall quality of life.

In primary focal hyperhidrosis, predisposed areas are the palms, soles or areas under the shoulders.

Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis also occurs at night. Increased sweating is present for no apparent reason.

It can be present on the hands, in the genital area, in the axillary fossa, but also in the nape of the neck, etc.

Complications of hyperhidrosis are mainly psychological. Social withdrawal and depression are frequent concomitants of this disease.

Other complications include bacterial or fungal infections of the skin.

Prevention, treatment and available help

Antiperspirant contains aluminium-based ingredients (aluminium hydroxychloride). The ingredients in antiperspirant temporarily block the sweat pores and reduce the amount of sweat.

Deodorant removes odour (smell) but does not reduce sweating per se. Deodorants tend to be alcohol-based. Alcohol acidifies the skin's environment and makes it unattractive to bacteria. They often contain fragrances that mask unpleasant skin odours.

A daily bath using an antibacterial soap reduces unpleasant odours and improves the overall vitality of the body.

It is also important to change your clothes regularly. You need to change according to your planned activities.

It is advisable to try some of the relaxation techniques. Exercise helps to reduce the overall effect of stress on the human body in the long run and thus reduces unpleasant odour.

Dietary modification is also important. Limiting spicy foods and caffeinated beverages modifies the overall odour. Odour is most altered when onions, garlic or alcohol are consumed.

Treatment of menopausal sweating may be hormonal. However, the possible side effects of such treatment should be considered.

Sometimes injections of botulinum toxin into the axillary fossa can be used.

Antibiotics reduce the number of skin bacteria.

In the treatment of general sweating, drugs from the group of anticholinergics, beta-blockers or some others are used.

Sometimes it is necessary to resort to surgical treatment.

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