Conditions & Treatments

Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating, also called hyperhidrosis, can affect the entire body, but usually occurs in the palms, soles, armpits, and/or groin area.

Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) 

What is excessive sweating?

Excessive sweating, also called hyperhidrosis, can affect the entire body, but usually occurs in the palms, soles, armpits, and/or groin area. Excessive sweating is normal when a person is anxious or has a fever. However, when the condition is chronic, it may be hyperhidrosis or it can signal thyroid problems, low blood sugar, nervous system disorders, or other medical problems. Typically, hyperhidrosis is a benign problem with no clear cause.

What are the symptoms of excessive sweating?

Areas that produce excessive sweat usually appear pink or white, but, in severe cases, may appear cracked, scaly, and soft (especially on the feet). Other symptoms may include a bad odor caused by bacteria and yeast in the wet skin.

Hyperhidrosis can lead to significant distress socially and in the workplace. 

The symptoms of excessive sweating may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment for excessive sweating

Specific treatment for excessive sweating will be determined by your doctor, based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Severity of the condition

  • Cause of the condition

  • Your tolerance of specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may involve topical, oral, surgical, or nonsurgical treatments, including:

  • Prescription-strength antiperspirants applied nightly

  • Methenamine solution applications to the area (to control heavy sweating)

  • Nighttime applications of aluminum chloride solution to the area (to control heavy sweating)

  • Thoracoscopic sympathectomy. A surgical interruption of the sympathetic nerve pathways that lead to the sweat glands.

  • Botulinum toxin A injection (Botox). Botulinum toxin helps to inhibit the release of acetylcholine (a substance that is active in the transmissions of nerve impulses). 

  • Tap water iontophoresis (applying a weak electrical current to the area)

  • Psychological counseling and/or medication (to reduce anxiety) 


The cause of hyperhidrosis can be serious. Please contact your doctor for a complete evaluation.

In addition, contact your health care provider immediately if you have excessive sweating:

  • With or followed by chest pain 

  • With fever, weight loss, shortness of breath, or a rapid, pounding heartbeat

  • That most often occurs during sleep 

Treatment Programs

Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:

Department of Dermatology

  • Dermatology Laser and Cosmetic Center
    The Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center in Boston offers laser skin resurfacing, laser hair and tattoo removal, skin tightening, dermal fillers, and body contouring. Our center has more than 20 different lasers on-site allowing us to offer personalized services for virtually any skin condition.
  • Dermatologic Surgery Unit
    Massachusetts General Hospital's Dermatologic Surgery Unit offers world-class expertise in Mohs micrographic surgery and a number of other cosmetic surgical procedures

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