Abnormal Sweating: Care Instructions

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Sweating is your body's way of cooling down and getting rid of some chemicals. But some people have a condition called hyperhidrosis that makes them sweat too much. It can affect any part of your body, especially the head, armpits, hands, and feet. Sometimes the sweat mixes with bacteria on your skin and causes armpits and feet to smell bad.

It can be upsetting to have sweat drip from your face and palms or to have smelly feet and shoes. Some people seem to be born with this condition, while some others may sweat too much because of anxiety. You may be able to reduce the amount you sweat by lowering stress in your life. Some people find that antiperspirants help, and you can take steps at home that will help with smelly feet. If you still have too much sweating, your doctor may recommend other treatments.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor prescribed medicine, use it as directed. Call your doctor if you have any problems with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Bathe 1 or 2 times a day with soap and water. Do not scrub your skin too much, because that can irritate it. Dry your skin well after bathing.
  • Use a deodorant with antiperspirant. It might help to put it on at night before bed.
  • Wear clothing made of material that lets your skin breathe. Cotton, wool, silk, and linen are good choices. For exercising, wear material that removes (wicks) the moisture from your skin.
  • Keep an extra shirt at work or in a school locker.
  • Attach pads (underarm or dress shields) to the armpit area of clothing to absorb sweat. You can buy these pads in sports or clothing stores.
  • Let your shoes dry out for a day after wearing them. If possible, set them in a place where the sun will shine on them. That will help kill the bacteria that cause the smell.
  • Change your socks at least 1 time a day. Wash your socks after each wearing.
  • Use foot powder or talc in your shoes and socks and on your feet. Put inserts in your shoes to absorb some of the sweat. Go barefoot for a while each day to let your feet dry out.
  • Limit hot drinks, such as coffee and tea, which make you sweat more.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You continue to sweat too much, and it bothers you.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.