How to Lessen Underarm Sweating

Two Methods:Home TreatmentsMedical Treatments

Excessive sweating almost never causes physical harm, but the social and emotional toll can be serious. The recommended treatment depends on your problem: soaked shirts, smell, or yellow armpit stains. You can reduce all of these to an extent with over the counter treatments and changed habits. If these don't do the job, there are many more treatments you can discuss with your doctor.

Method 1
Home Treatments

  1. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 1
    Shower or bathe regularly to reduce scent. Bacteria on your skin can turn old sweat into smelly armpits.[1] Shower daily to wash away the sweat before this happens.
    • Try ending your shower with a minute or two of cool or cold water. This will lower your surface temperature, making you less likely to sweat right away.
    • Pat your armpits dry with a soft towel. Vigorous scrubbing can stress your skin and cause more sweating.
  2. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 2
    Wear antiperspirant deodorant. Ordinary deodorant only hides smell. To stop soaking your clothes, you'll need a product with antiperspirant. Apply this just before bed and right after you wake up, or after drying off from your shower. Your skin is usually cool and dry during these times, so the antiperspirant can easily reach your sweat glands and block them.[2]
    • If your armpits are sweaty, dry them first using a hair dryer on a cool-air setting.[3]
    • Most antiperspirants include aluminum compounds that can cause yellow armpit stains.[4] Launder stained clothes soon, before the stain sets.
  3. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 3
    Wear loose, natural clothing. A lightweight cotton T-shirt, for example, will wick moisture away from your skin. Having your shirt absorb moisture may sound like a bad thing, but this will keep your skin cool. A heavy or synthetic shirt will keep you hot, causing your body to sweat more.[5]
    • If you still sweat through these clothes, wear a light undershirt as well.
  4. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 4
    Wear sweat pads. These cotton pads stick to the underside of your shirt and absorb sweat so less of it soaks into your clothing. Look for these at drugstores, sold as "underarm shields," "armpit guards," and similar names.
  5. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 5
    Sprinkle baby powder on your underarms. Baby powder (talcum powder) absorbs moisture, so it can prevent soaked clothing. This is generally not as effective as antiperspirant deodorant, but won't stain your clothes.
    • Talcum powder has been tentatively linked to cancer, but studies show mixed results. You may wish to avoid inhaling it or applying it to the female groin.[6]
  6. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 6
    Drink enough water. Whenever you feel hot or thirsty, drink a glass of cool water. This will bring your internal temperature down, so your body won't have to lower it more by sweating.[7]
  7. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 7
    Reduce sweat triggers. Many people suffer from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, for genetic or hormonal reasons. Whatever the cause, certain foods and substances can worsen the problem. Consider the following changes if they are part of your daily habits:[8][9]
  8. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 8
    Try drinking sage tea. Sage tea is a traditional treatment for excessive sweating. This has not been tested one way or the other in scientific studies.[10] If you try it, drink it daily in the evening, so the heat of the tea doesn't cause sweating during the day.
    • Consult a doctor before taking large doses of sage supplements, as they can have serious side effects. Sage in dietary amounts is mostly harmless, but may harm people with diabetes, epilepsy, bleeding disorders, or an allergy to the plant.
    • There are many types of sage. Typically, this treatment uses Salvia officinalis or Salvia lavendulaefolia.

Method 2
Medical Treatments

  1. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 9
    Get a prescription-strength antiperspirant. Your doctor can prescribe a stronger antiperspirant than those available over the counter. These are typically applied only once or twice a day, and in small amounts, due to the more concentrated chemicals. Once this gets working, you'll only need to reapply once every week or two.[11]
    • These can irritate your skin. If necessary, ask your doctor for hydrocortisone lotion to soothe your skin.
  2. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 10
    Consider an iontophoresis device. These soak the sweating area in water, then send a mild electrical current through it. While it is unclear why this works, it is a mainstream medical treatment.[12] This is generally more effective for hands and feet, but special devices do exist for armpits. Ask a doctor about this treatment, or purchase a less powerful over-the-counter version. Patients generally try the treatment daily for several weeks, then continue on a less frequent schedule if effective.[13]
    • Ask a doctor first if you have a metal medical implant (such as a pacemaker or IUD), if you are pregnant, if you experience cardiac arrhythmia, or if you have a skin rash on your underarms.[14]
    • This treatment can cause red skin, and more rarely blisters.
  3. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 11
    Consider powerful oral medications. There are several types of pills that can reduce sweating, but these have serious side effects. In some cases, your dermatologist may recommend a Botox injection or other treatment before these are considered. The following are two of the most common treatment approaches of this type:
    • Anticholinergic drugs are effective in about 50% of cases, but often cause unpleasant side effects such as confusion and constipation.[15]
    • Beta blockers can reduce sweating, particularly if caused by anxiety. All drugs of this type have serious side effects, and cannot be taken by people with asthma or most heart conditions. Any beta blocker may cause depression or dizziness, and specific drugs may have additional side effects.[16]
  4. Image titled Lessen Underarm Sweating Step 12
    Ask a dermatologist for more powerful treatments. The following treatments should only be administered by an experienced dermatologist. In most cases, your medical insurance will not cover these procedures.
    • A Botox injection at the armpit can paralyze nerves sending signals to sweat glands, typically for a few months. The FDA has approved this treatment for the armpit only, when antiperspirant has failed. Risks are very low when the procedure is performed properly, but include life-threatening issues.[17]
    • Microwave treatments to remove sweat glands are FDA-approved, but only recently.[18] They may not be available in all areas.
    • In severe cases, a dermatologist can surgically remove some of the sweat glands or their attached nerves. Liposuction is typically the type of surgery recommended for underarms.[19] Risks are low, but there is a chance of serious problems.[20]


  • You can try deodorants marketed for either sex. If it works, who cares?
  • Carry a travel size tissue pack. When necessary, go to a bathroom and pat your armpits dry.
  • Lay near a fan when trying to cool off. The air flow evaporates water off your skin, cooling you down quickly.
  • If you shave/wax or have sensitive armpits then use a deodorant that is soft on sensitive skin. The last thing you want to be doing is scratching your armpits, since friction causes skin stress.
  • Don't go out in the sun with a huge jumper on. Just wear a loose top, avoiding white clothing which can pick up visible sweat stains.


  • Do not spray perfume while your underarms smell. The smell mixes and makes a terrible smell, worse than before!
  • If you started sweating more and don't know why, visit a doctor. Most excessive sweating is harmless, but it is occasionally a sign of a more serious problem.
  • Some people use antibacterial body wash in the shower to reduce sweat odor. According to the FDA, these products may not be effective and may have unknown side effects.[21]

Things You'll Need

  • Antiperspirant deodorant
  • Regular deodorant
  • Baby powder
  • Loose, natural clothing
  • Undershirt
  • Underarm sweat pads
  • Sage tea

Sources and Citations


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Article Info

Categories: Sweating and Body Odor Hygiene