What is abnormal sweating?

Abnormal Sweating

Abnormal sweating in children: Overview

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

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

How is heavy sweating treated?

If you are sweating so heavily that it is affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor. You may feel embarrassed to talk about it, but you'll find out that there are treatments that can help. They include:

Prescription antiperspirants.

If over-the-counter brands aren't helping you, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. These products are usually applied at bedtime.


A procedure called iontophoresis (say "eye-AWN-tuh-fuh-REE-sus") sends a weak electric current through your skin. You place your hands or feet into shallow trays of water while the current is sent through the water. The current causes a tingling feeling in your skin. You do this repeatedly for several days until your sweating is back to a comfortable level.

Botox injections.

With this treatment, you get shots in the areas that are causing problems, such as the armpits or the hands. The Botox temporarily blocks the nerves that make you sweat.


Certain medicines may help by preventing the stimulation of sweat glands or by lowering the effects of stress.

Electromagnetic energy.

After numbing the area, your doctor heats your underarm sweat glands using microwave energy. The procedure can be done in your doctor's office. It can take about an hour. You may need several treatments to completely destroy the underarm sweat glands.

For very severe cases when other treatments have failed, surgery may be done to remove sweat glands or destroy the nerves leading to sweat glands.

How can you care for your child's abnormal sweating?

  • If your doctor prescribed medicine, have your child take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Have your child bathe 1 or 2 times a day with soap and water.
  • Have your child use a deodorant with antiperspirant. It might help to put it on at night before bed.
  • Have your child wear clothing made of material that lets the skin breathe. Cotton, wool, silk, and linen are good choices. For exercising, have your child wear material that removes (wicks) moisture from the skin.
  • Have your child keep an extra shirt in a school locker.
  • Attach pads (underarm or dress shields) to the armpit area of your child's clothing to absorb sweat. You can buy these pads in sports or clothing stores.
  • Let your child's shoes dry out for a day after they are worn. If possible, set them in a place where the sun will shine on them. That will help kill the bacteria that cause the smell.
  • Have your child change socks at least 1 time a day. Wash the socks after each wearing.
  • Have your child put foot powder or talc in their shoes and socks and on their feet. Put inserts in your child's shoes to absorb some of the sweat. Have your child go barefoot for a while each day to let your child's feet dry out.
  • Give your child fewer hot drinks, such as hot chocolate and tea. These types of drinks make you sweat more.

What causes heavy sweating?

Sweating is your body's way of cooling down and getting rid of some chemicals. Sometimes heavy sweating is normal. You may sweat a lot when you exercise, when you are too hot, or when you are frightened.

It's normal for teenagers to sweat more than they did when they were younger. A teen's sweat glands are growing along with the rest of their body.

And menopause often causes women to have heavy sweating now and then.

But some people have a condition called hyperhidrosis that makes them sweat too much. They may drip sweat even when it's not hot and they're not exercising. Some people carry a towel around with them because their hands are always wet with sweat.

For these people, sweating is a problem that can be very hard to live with, even though they have no other health problems. In most cases, there's no known cause for this condition.

Other causes of heavy sweating

Certain problems such as diabetes, heart failure, anxiety, and overactive thyroid can cause heavy sweating. And some drugs may cause heavy sweating as a side effect.

Abnormal sweating: When to call

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.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.