We know that we can expect to sweat when we’re physically active or our body temperature is rising. After all, our sweating works to cool us down when we’re heating up. Unfortunately, some of us sweat even when we’re very passive, such as sweating while sitting down at the office or while we’re at home watching a movie.
If this sounds like you — constantly sweating throughout the day — then you might be suffering from hyperhidrosis, which is the medical term for excessive sweating. In this post, we take a closer look at hyperhidrosis (how it happens and who it affects) as well as the reasons you could be sweating more than usual.
Then, we explain how you can tackle your sweating problem, featuring our 3-step solution, Duradry, which has helped 97% of the people who have tried it achieve total dryness within a week.
6 Reasons Why You’re Sweating While Sitting Down
While hyperhidrosis may sound like a really scary medical condition, it’s actually more common than people think (more people suffer from hyperhidrosis than psoriasis).
Plus, hyperhidrosis can often be successfully treated with over-the-counter solutions, as long as they’re made specifically to treat sudden excessive sweating.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) affects approximately 4.8% of Americans. Medical professionals distinguish between two different types of hyperhidrosis.
Primary hyperhidrosis primarily affects younger adults ages 18 to 39 and often has a genetic component. Living with the constant sweating of hyperhidrosis presents many challenges and impacts numerous aspects of daily life
Secondary hyperhidrosis, sweating a lot for no reason, can be caused by issues ranging from low blood sugar to pregnancy to thyroid issues to medication.
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
If you have primary hyperhidrosis, there’s no underlying condition that’s causing your excessive sweating.
You “over sweat” uncontrollably as the condition — usually in the underarms, hands, feet, or lower back. Most people start experiencing this problem in their youth. Sufferers are also unlikely to sweat heavily when they’re sleeping.
While spurts of random sweating can come and go, if you have primary hyperhidrosis, it’s much more likely to be a consistently present condition that requires daily or weekly management.
Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis
If you have secondary hyperhidrosis, then your excessive sweating is caused by something else, such as having side effects from a medication.
Unlike people with primary hyperhidrosis, those who have secondary hyperhidrosis may sweat heavily at night. And once the root cause is eliminated, the sweating should stop. The problem is that it may not be an option to get rid of what’s causing you to sweat (for example, if your excessive sweating is brought on by medication that you can’t do without).
Is Hyperhidrosis Treatable?
Here's the good news — the best solution for managing both forms of hyperhidrosis is the same. A topical antiperspirant that is specifically formulated to treat hyperhidrosis and can seep into your pores to effectively plug your sweat ducts.
Below, we cover other potential reasons why you’re excessively sweating, but if you’re ready for a solution to your problem, click here.
Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. This is a common issue with diabetics, but it can affect non-diabetics as well. So how can hypoglycemia cause you to sweat?
Your body tries to fix your low blood sugar as quickly as possible. And when it does, your body produces adrenaline that will then help get any stored glucose into your bloodstream.
It’s this adrenaline that can lead to sudden heavy sweating. If this is the culprit behind your sweating problem, the solution is to monitor your blood sugar and seek a medical professional for advice. But once you solve the blood sugar issue, the sweating should go away.
There’s a fraught relationship between anxiety and excessive sweating — as we discovered when we did an interview with Lisa Pieretti, the co-founder of the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHhS).
Sometimes, sweating can make you feel anxious which in turn may make you sweat more (or make you more aware of how much you’re sweating).
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can stop excessive stress and sweating by treating your anxiety alone. Oftentimes, anxiety serves to exacerbate an existing excessive sweating condition.
Why Anxiety Causes Excessive Sweating
Anxiety happens when your body goes into a threat response. Fighting a threat, or fleeing from it, requires you to expend energy, which can raise your body temperature. But overheating would make it difficult to escape or keep fighting, so your body signals your sweat glands to produce sweat and keep you cool so that you can carry on.
Although this threat response can be very helpful when you are running from a cave bear, it is not exactly as helpful when your anxiety triggers sweating, as this can make you more anxious, which makes you sweat more…
Additional Note on Anxiety and Medications
To make matters even more complex, sometimes doctors will prescribe anxiety medication when you present with excessive sweating as a symptom. But anxiety medication is also one of the most common causes of secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
So, while you may have solved one form of excessive sweating, you may have to start dealing with the same problem under a slightly different name.
The relationship between hyperhidrosis and anxiety is nuanced. However, there are several different studies that show excessive sweating can lead to increased anxiety. If you’re suffering from excessive sweating, it’s important to remember that (1) you’re not alone and (2) there are several different effective hyperhidrosis treatments available that can improve your quality of life.
Menopausal women may experience hot flashes at any time of the day — not just at night. They can go through one or two hot flashes or up to 20 in a 24-hour period.
A hot flash generally lasts 1 to 5 minutes (but that range isn’t written in stone).
Unfortunately, there’s no proven way to treat the sweating brought on by menopause. But there are ways to manage it. You can wear lighter clothing (so when your body warms up due to a hot flash it’s less of an issue) — or if your hot flashes mostly result in night sweats, then you can buy cooling sheets and a pillow.
You can also use a hyperhidrosis antiperspirant in key areas, such as your underarms, back, and hands. But keep in mind that with the hormonal changes brought on by menopause, you may sweat all over your body or in different areas each time.
Why Menopause Causes Hot Flashes
During menopause, your estrogen levels begin fluctuating dramatically. Doctors believe that these changes impact the part of the brain that regulates body temperature. Having low estrogen levels narrows down the body’s thermal neutral zone. This means that small temperature changes can trigger a rise in body heat.
As body heat rises, your body works to maintain your core temperature level. Blood vessels open in your skin. If you are suffering from heat exhaustion, this reaction can cool you down. In a normal temperature setting, this vasodilation causes the flushing and sweating we call “hot flashes.”
Bonus: Humidity and Heat
Humidity and heat are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to excessive sweating. If you’re wondering, “Why am I always sweating in the summertime?” It’s because sweat is our body’s natural cooling system. As our sweat evaporates, it cools us down. This can cause regular sweating, and can also send hyperhidrosis into overdrive.
Less of your body’s sweat evaporates on a muggy day. This leaves you dripping and uncomfortable. If you experience sudden excessive sweating on a hot humid day, seek cooler shelter immediately, as that can be a warning sign that your body is overheating.
Bonus: Thyroid Related Issues
Thyroid hormones regulate your body’s temperature, and hence have an impact on your sweating. While people with hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity) typically feel cold, hypothyroidism can also lead to uncontrollable sweating in both the morning and at night.
What causes excessive sweating during menopause? Decreased estrogen can lead to thyroid dysregulation and the “night sweats” and “hot flashes” associated with menopause. Hypothyroidism and menopause can aggravate each other and increase the symptoms of both.
Doctors have found that in these situations, bringing thyroid activity back under control can greatly reduce the sweating and other issues of menopausal women with hypothyroidism.
How to Treat Your Sweating Problem
In this post, we’ve looked at 6 reasons why you may be sweating while sitting down or otherwise being inactive. But the truth is, there are dozens of potential reasons that could be causing you to sweat uncontrollably.
For example, you could have an infection that your body is fighting, you could be pregnant, or you could have an autoimmune disorder. If you’re just noticing now that you sweat more than normal, it’s best for you to consult with a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis.
The good news is that there are safe and effective ways to treat your sweating problem — no matter what is causing you to sweat so much.
But first, let’s take a look at what doesn’t work (and why).
Why Traditional Antiperspirant Doesn’t Work for Excessive Sweating
Traditional antiperspirants have the right idea, but the problem is they’re either not strong enough, and/or they don’t use the right active ingredients to prevent heavy sweating.
The FDA says that only aluminum-based compounds can be considered “antiperspirants.” (This is why there isn't really such a thing as an all-natural antiperspirant — to be a topical antiperspirant, you need to use one of the several approved aluminum-based ingredients.)
But the issue is that these over-the-counter antiperspirants use aluminum-based compounds that can’t handle the amount of sweat you produce if you’re suffering from hyperhidrosis.
To stop sweating a lot for no reason, you need pure active ingredients that get deep into the pores of your skin. One of the most effective ingredients on the FDA’s approved list is aluminum chloride. Aluminum chloride gets deep into your pores and when it comes into contact with perspiration, it forms a blocker that helps prevent random sweating.
The difference between using a specially-designed antiperspirant that contains an effective ingredient like aluminum chloride to keep you dry vs. a traditional antiperspirant is similar to using duct tape to seal a package instead of Scotch tape.
More Invasive Treatment Options for Excessive Sweating
There are several other ways to treat your hyperhidrosis without using a topical solution. But these can be extremely invasive.
Before you take these drastic measures, your physician will want to know about your medical history. They will likely run tests to ensure that your sweating issues are not being caused by an underlying condition. They will also check your current medications to see if you are taking any drugs, like certain antidepressants that are known to cause hyperhidrosis.
A doctor will also want to make sure that you have tried other available treatments for excessive sweating. Only when these have been proven unsuccessful will your physician authorize more invasive measures.
You can get Botox injections to block the nerve signals that trigger your sweat. While this treatment can be effective, it’s expensive, painful, and short-term.
You'll generally need to get Botox injections every 4 to 6 months and you may need as many as 25 to 50 injections in each underarm per session.
There’s also a treatment called iontophoresis. This is when a medical professional (often a dermatologist) uses a machine to pulse a low-voltage electric current through the parts of your body where you sweat excessively. Generally, iontophoresis is used when treating the soles of the feet or hands, but not the underarms.
Benefits of an Iontophoresis Treatment
During iontophoresis, you’ll sit with either your hands or your feet in a shallow tray filled with tap water. If you are having other parts of your body treated, such as your underarms, the machine will be connected to pads placed in the areas to be treated. The iontophoresis treatment usually takes around 15 to 40 minutes.
You will typically have to repeat the treatment three times per week until you achieve your desired results, then do weekly maintenance treatments thereafter.
A 2017 study found that 24 out of 27 people had marked improvement in their symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks of undergoing iontophoresis treatments every other day, followed by a maintenance treatment every 3 to 4 weeks.
Finally, there’s an extremely invasive surgery called sympathectomy. This involves the cutting (or clamping) of the nerves that trigger sweat production. This generally is not recommended for a few reasons. Not only is this painful, expensive, and risky, but it’s not necessarily effective.
When you get a sympathectomy to treat excessive underarm sweating, you’ll often start having excessive sweat disorder on other parts of your body, like your lower back or hands. In short, the excess sweat your body is producing just finds another way out.
Luckily, there are other cost-effective and pain-free options that can actually help keep you dry.
Sympathectomy Recovery Period
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) involves general anesthesia, after which the surgeon makes two 5-millimeter incisions on each side and then cuts or clamps the sympathetic nervous chain. While this can sometimes be done as an outpatient surgery, most patients need 24 hours in the hospital for observation.
You are likely to feel some pain when you take a deep breath or raise your arms after the surgery, and may need 2 to 3 weeks off work for full recovery. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise until your incisions heal, and be careful not to get your incisions wet while showering.
What Kind of Medicines Can You Take to Treat Hyperhidrosis?
Once you've determined the reasons for excessive sweating, you can begin treating the problem. Many times, sudden excessive sweating is caused by a new medication or a medical condition. Once you quit taking the medication or resolve the medical issue, the sweating goes away.
But in cases where things are not that easily solved, there are a number of prescription medications that may be able to help you with your excessive sweating problem.
When is the Right Time to Take Medication for Excessive Sweat?
It is only after other efforts to control your hyperhidrosis have failed will your doctor consider prescription medications.
First, they will want to know your medical history and what prescriptions you are currently taking. They will also want to address any primary medical conditions that may be causing your excessive sweating. If they can cure your hyperhidrosis by addressing your thyroid condition or changing your antidepressant, that will be better than adding a new prescription to your daily regimen.
Do not take anticholinergic medications for your excessive sweating without a doctor’s prescription. These medications can have serious side effects and should only be taken under medical supervision.
There are prescription medications that directly address hyperhidrosis. For serious cases of sweating while sitting, doctors can prescribe anticholinergic medications that block the nerve signals that activate your sweat glands, or other treatments like beta-blockers or anti-anxiety medications.
While you cannot get anti-sweat pills over-the-counter, there are a number of nonprescription antiperspirants and topical solutions that are formulated to meet the needs of those who are dealing with constant sweating.
For most sweat disorders, anticholinergics are the first line of defense. Anticholinergics block the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that sends signals between cells that affect how your body is functioning.
Anticholinergics can treat many conditions, including excessive sweating. If you’re sweating a lot for no reason, or if you’re taking a necessary medication that leaves you dripping, anticholinergics can stop acetylcholine from triggering your overly active sweat glands.
Below we’ve listed three of the most commonly used anticholinergics that are prescribed to treat excessive sweating:
If you have serious sweat issues, one of these medications may work for you - let's dive into each:
Glycopyrrolate is commonly used to reduce drooling but doctors also prescribe glycopyrrolate for sweating. Pre-moistened glycopyrrolate cloths are safe for hyperhidrosis patients over nine years old, and topical glycopyrrolate cream can reduce sweat disorder during gustatory challenge (profuse sweating caused by eating).
Glycopyrrolate is generally safe when taken as directed, but oral glycopyrrolate can cause dizziness, constipation, and dry mouth. Do not use topical glycopyrrolate creams if you have glaucoma, myasthenia gravis, or ulcerative colitis.
Benztropine (brand name: Cogentin) is most commonly used to treat the stiffness and tremors caused by Parkinson’s Disease. But it has also been shown to alleviate the uncontrollable sweating caused by venlafaxine (brand name: Effexor), a commonly prescribed antidepressant. The anticholinergic effect that blocks acetylcholine from causing spasms also reduces the activity of sweat glands.
Benztropine may produce sedation, so be careful when driving or operating machinery. Side effects can include difficulty in urination, dry mouth, and delirium.
Oxybutynin is prescribed for bladder issues, incontinence, and frequent urination. But oxybutynin also helps with constant sweating and sudden sweating. Oxybutynin has been used since 1988, and over 70% of hyperhidrosis patients note significant improvements after taking this medicine.
A number of medical conditions and medications interact with oxybutynin. If you are taking oxybutynin, notify your medical providers. Because oxybutynin slows down sweat, you may be at risk of overheating in hot conditions or while performing a strenuous activity.
There are a number of home remedies used to combat random sweating.
Astringents like apple cider vinegar or witch hazel can both help to close the pores and act as potent antibacterial agents that fight odor-causing bacteria.
Tea tree oil can also be an excellent solution for fighting perspiration and odor, but make sure the essential oil is sufficiently diluted with a carrier as it can be harsh.
Schisandra (also known as five-flavor berry) is a dried Chinese fruit that has been used to alleviate the sudden sweating associated with menopausal night sweats and hot flashes.
Introducing Duradry’s 3-Step System for Treating Excessive Sweating
I suffer from excessive sweating myself, and after years of being dissatisfied with the available products in stores, doctor’s offices, and online, I decided to develop my own solution. I knew I wanted this treatment to be topical, safe, affordable, and most of all: effective.
After investigating the science of sweating — and focusing on why so many other solutions, even prescription antiperspirants, were not up to par — I created a 3-step system called Duradry, which keeps your skin clean, moisturized, and (of course) dry.
Step #1: Apply Duradry PM Two Times a Week
Duradry PM is a neutral-scented gel antiperspirant that contains aluminum chloride as its active ingredient.
Research shows that aluminum chloride is one of the most effective aluminum compounds to treat excessive sweating.
The reason I developed Duradry PM as a gel was due to my past experience using hyperhidrosis alternatives. The gel is far easier to apply on skin than a liquid or spray, which also may leak when you travel.
You apply Duradry PM before you go to bed. That way, its ingredients can get to work while your sweat glands are less active. The gel is unscented so it won’t disturb you or your partner while you sleep.
Step #2: Use Duradry Wash to Clean Your Pores
In order to stop sudden sweating, your antiperspirant’s active ingredients must make full contact with your skin. But what often happens is there is residue in your pores that keeps the compounds out, such as oils and bacteria. That’s why we also include Duradry Wash in the simple 3-step system.
Duradry Wash deeply cleans your skin. This way, when you apply Duradry PM (or AM, which we cover next), the active ingredients aren’t being blocked by any residue.
Step #3: Apply Duradry AM at the Start of Your Day
While Duradry PM provides the main sweat blocking benefits, you get another boost of protection by using Duradry AM every morning.
Duradry AM is a stick antiperspirant-deodorant that contains the maximum amount of aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly, a clinical-strength active ingredient.
Used together, these three products give 97% of our customers total dryness within one week.
Final Thoughts: Why You’re Sweating While Sitting Down
If you find yourself in a perpetual state of sudden sweating — such as while sitting down at your desk or as you drive to the grocery store — then that’s the first sign you might be suffering from an underlying issue.
If you have concerns about why you’re sweating a lot for no reason, we recommend you see a medical professional who can rule out any undiagnosed medical problems.
One of the more common reasons why you might be sweating uncontrollably is that you have a condition called hyperhidrosis. While there is no “cure” for hyperhidrosis, there is an affordable, safe, and effective treatment: Duradry’s 3-step system.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Stress Cause Excessive Sweating?
Under stress, your body temperature rises, which prompts your sweat glands to kick in and cause uncontrollable sweating. Sweating more than usual when you're under stress is normal, but diaphoresis (excessive sweating for no apparent reason) that affects your confidence or interferes with your life may be due to a treatable medical condition called hyperhidrosis.
How Do You Know If You Have a Sweating Disorder?
Some common signs of a sweating disorder include:
• Clammy or wet palms of the hands
• Clammy or wet soles of the feet
• Frequent sweating
• Noticeable sweating that soaks through clothing
While sweating disorders can be symptoms of an underlying condition, excessive sweating can lead to secondary issues, including:
• Skin conditions like fungal and bacterial infections
• Social withdrawal and depression
• Anxiety about sweat stains and body odor
What Causes Profuse Sweating?
There are many sweat glands on the feet, palms, face, and armpits. Nerves activate your sweat glands when you move around, when your body overheats, when you feel emotional, or as a result of hormones. When we are too hot, we perspire; and when we get nervous, we have episodes of sudden sweating.
Why Do I Sweat So Much When I Work Out?
Working out increases your body temperature, so some sweating is to be expected. You may be sweating more than usual due to exertion, heavier clothing, or a warmer indoor or outdoor temperature.
In addition to antiperspirants, doctors recommend the following steps to curb excessive sweating while working out:
• Wear lightweight, breathable workout gear made from cotton or sweat-wicking materials
• Powder sweaty areas like your feet, groin area, hands, and under breasts
• Workout in the morning or evening to avoid the midday heat
• Drink lots of water before, during, and after exercise
What is Excessive Sweating a Sign of?
Thyroid problems, diabetes, infection, or medication are possible profuse sweating causes. Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) is more likely if you are overweight or out of shape. But most cases of hyperhidrosis are harmless. So keep going to the gym even if you worry that you sweat too much during your workout!
When Should I Be Worried About Sweating?
Seek immediate medical attention if your heavy sweating is accompanied by lightheadedness, chest pain, or nausea, as this can be a warning sign of a cardiac event.
Contact your doctor if:
• You suddenly begin sweating more than usual
• You begin experiencing night sweats for no apparent reason
• Your excessive sweating disrupts your daily routine
• Uncontrollable sweating is causing you emotional distress or social withdrawal
Why Am I Sweating so Much All of a Sudden?
Depending on the sweating symptoms, excessive sweating when working out or at rest can be caused by anything from low blood sugar to pregnancy to thyroid issues to medication. Conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, and menopause may cause excessive sweating while sitting. See your doctor if these sudden changes persist.
Why Am I Sweating for No Reason?
Diaphoresis refers to excessive sweating for no apparent reason. Oftentimes, an underlying medical condition like diabetes or a life event like menopause causes this sudden sweating. If you have recently begun sweating for no reason, see a physician. While most cases of diaphoresis are harmless, some point to serious issues.