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Problematic Pits

How to combat excessive sweating

Problematic Pits
07 November 2011

Q: Hi I sweat excessively under my armpits and my hands when driving or in a meeting and this creates sweat patches on my shirt which ruin my clothes (I've tried deodrant and antiperspirant + the Nivea black and white antiperspirant) - but don't really have an answer as to why I do it then and not the rest of the time, as I don't think I stress when I'm doing these activities. I have heard that I can get a botox injection to solve this - does it work and how often would I need to get it done?


A: Our expert Ahmed Zambarakji answers your questions below:

Hi Jim,

Sounds a lot like you’ve got hyperhidrosis. It’s a bit tough to diagnose over the internet – and keep in mind that I’m a journalist, not a doctor – but rest assured you're not the only guy out there suffering from this. The reasons for excessive sweating are varied: it could be an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, an overactive thyroid or even an increased metabolic rate. Everyone is different and your individual triggers won’t be the same as the next person’s.

It’s also important to acknowledge that our bodies automatically respond to our mental state, whether we’re aware of it or not. And it sounds to me like you’re responding to what we call ‘emotional stressors’.

If you’re in a heightened state of anxiety – on a first date, stuck in traffic on a way to a meeting etc – your sympathetic nervous system kicks in, your temperature goes up and your body tries to find a way to cool itself down as quickly as possible. And, as you’ve found out, when you start sweating, you get paranoid about the patches showing up. Which makes you even more stressed and more sweaty and so on… All in all, it can be a pretty distressing vicious cycle.

I would advise several things: First of all, see your GP to find out if it is hyperhidrosis, in which case you can start investigating the root of the problem and treat it accordingly.

Secondly, check out some of the heavy-duty anti-perspirants out there and experiment with different roll-ons and sprays. Your GP may even prescribe you an industrial strength aluminium-chloride antiperspirant, if he/she thinks your case is serious enough. I recently came across a brand called Wingman ( who make handy wipes for excessive sweating - they might be worth keeping in the desk at work or in the car. There are even armpit shields out there that you can find with a bit of creative Googling.

Last but not least, I’d urge you to find a healthy way of managing your stress levels. Judging from the first line of your question, I’m inclined to say your case of the sweats is a physical response to your mental activity.

Find a healthy way to calm yourself in those annoying situations: this might involve incorporating different breathing techniques into your day, cutting back on the stimulants that send you overboard (too much caffeine?) or just learning not to pile too many responsibilities onto your plate.

It might sound like a far-fetched answer but incorporating some basic meditation techniques into your daily routine can really help with tackling stress. There are some great guided meditations out there that you can stick on your iPod and listen to throughout the day. As you progress, you’ll learn little techniques to help bring those stress levels back down the moment they kick in. The more awareness you can build around your conditioned reponse, the better.

As for Botox, don’t start swatting flies with a sledgehammer. There are other avenues to explore before you start shooting chemicals into your body. Yes it works, yes it’s effective… but explore the underlying reason instead of trying to find a quick fix. I don’t think you need it anyway.

But, since you asked, the procedure involves about 15-odd injections into the area that’s bothering you most. The injections effectively cut off any communication between the brain and the sweat glands. It’s unlikely you’ll get botox on the NHS so you’ll have to shell out in the region of £500 a go depending on how many shots you need. Trustworthy medispas like Renew Medica ( offer the treatment and have clinics around London and and the surrounding areas. Botox wears off after about 6 months anyway, so you’d need to keep on topping up.

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(Image: Getty)