The answer is “no” - Athlete’s foot does not make you sweat more, but it can make excessive sweating even more uncomfortable than it already was. Here is an in-depth look at what Athlete’s foot really is and how excessive sweating impacts it.
Athlete’s foot, known scientifically as tinea pedis, is caused by a fungal infection (called dermatophytes) that affects the skin of the feet, especially the skin between the toes. The fungus causes skin to redden and crack and the affected areas are often flaky and itchy. Sometimes affected skin can also become inflamed. The fungus is able to infect a foot when it enters the top layer of the skin through small cracks or wounds. The infection can be passed on from person to person through direct contact or when someone steps on infected flakes of skin from another person. In order to grow and thrive, the fungus that causes Athlete’s foot needs a dark, moist environment and feet provide the perfect breeding ground due to those conditions. Furthermore, the skin of the feet contain large amounts of Keratin which the fungus feed on. There are certain risk factors that make it more likely for someone to develop Athlete’s foot, these include:
Athlete’s foot appears to be a very common problem as anywhere between 3% and 15% of the population are thought to struggle with it at any given time. It is not physically dangerous, but it typically won’t go away on it’s own. Therefore, it is important for people with the condition to seek treatment. While no studies have shown that Athlete’s foot causes people to sweat more, it has been noted that excessive sweating of the feet makes the development of Athlete’s foot much more likely. This is especially true for people who suffer from a condition called primary focal hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis causes people to sweat excessively from specific parts of the body like the hands, feet, armpits, face, and head. It affects about 3% of the US population making hyperhidrosis quite common, like Athlete’s foot. The reason so many people with hyperhidrosis develop Athlete’s foot is because the condition causes the feet to constantly produce sweat which promotes the exact environment fungus need to thrive. Luckily, there are several effective ways to prevent Athlete’s foot and manage the symptoms of hyperhidrosis.
How To Prevent Athlete’s Foot
Preventing Athlete’s foot predominantly consists of specific types of self-care to keep feet dry and certain precautions to limit exposure to infectants. Often times, treating hyperhidrosis symptoms, which are how you stop foot sweat and its odor, can greatly reduce the likelihood of developing a fungal infection like Athlete’s foot. Here are some practical solutions you can use to make your feet a less habitable environment for the fungi that cause Athlete’s foot:
If you are suffering from hyperhidrosis and practical lifestyle changes are not enough to keep your feet dry, then you may want to consider other treatments for sweaty feet. These include treatment options like using over-the-counter topical treatments like antiperspirant to more invasive procedures like botox injections. Due to the fact that hyperhidrosis treatments reduce the amount of moisture your feet are exposed to they can drastically reduce the likelihood that you will develop Athlete’s foot.
In addition to maintaining a dry pedal environment, it is also important for people to limit their exposure to the fungi that cause Athlete’s foot. Here are some tips to avoid contracting it:
How to Treat Athlete’s Foot
Due to the fact that Athlete’s foot is so common, even when practicing prevention procedures, people often develop the condition at some point in their lives. In most cases, Athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter remedies that are available at local pharmacies. These treatments come in the form of creams, gels, or sprays that contain an active ingredient that stops fungal growth of kills off fungus completely. In rare cases, tablets can be prescribed for people who haven’t had success with over-the-counter treatment options. There are also natural remedies that people use, which include tea tree oil some herbal foot bath solutions, although there is not scientific evidence that they are effective.
Once you have treated Athlete’s foot it is important that you continue to use preventative care practices so that you don’t develop it again. If you do also happen to suffer from hyperhidrosis, then getting treatment for it should keep your feet more comfortable and prevent you from developing Athlete’s foot as easily. There are many effective treatment options and it is important to make sure that you are taking proper care of the skin on your feet.
- Athlete's foot: Overview. (2015). Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279549/
- Common Complications of Hyperhidrosis. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/common-complications-of-hyperhidrosis
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
WHAT IS HYPERHIDROSIS?
Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is basically when you sweat beyond comfort. People with hyperhidrosis just have overactive sweat glands.
The medical definition is sweat that is produced in excess of what is necessary for thermoregulation (the ability to maintain a healthy temperature.
Sweating is a perfectly natural and necessary function the body uses to cool itself down. We need to sweat to live, however, with hyperhidrosis, you’ll sweat even when your body isn’t overheating.
SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE HYPERHIDROSIS:
- When dressing, you take into account how your clothes will be affected by sweat and whether they will show sweat stains.
- You are always aware of your environment and whether or not you can influence the temperature.
- You've hesitated to shake someone's hand.
- You tailor your routine to take in account a need for reapplying your deodorant.
- You worry about taking off you shoes in front of others.
- You leave a sweat trail.
- Noticeable sweat even when you aren't working out or overheated.
WE DON'T JUST SWEAT UNDER THE ARMS:
All can be affected:
You could have sweat in just one of these areas, or like the lucky few experience full body excessive sweating.
Hands, feet, and underarms are the parts of the body that are most likely to be affected by hyperhidrosis.
THERE ARE SOLUTIONS:
Good news, you don't have to live with uncomfortable sweat.
- Over-the-counter topical treatments
- Prescription oral medications and creams
THERE ARE TWO MAIN FORMS OF HYPERHIDROSIS
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis (PFH) is by far the most common type, affecting up to 90 percent of people who have hyperhidrosis.
People with primary focal hyperhidrosis only sweat in particular areas like the hands, feet, armpits, face, and groin.
Sweat will occur on both sides of the body in the same place and often in more than one area — like both hands and feet. 
Symptoms usually begin in childhood or adolescence and tend to last for a person’s entire lifetime. There is evidence that primary focal hyperhidrosis is hereditary, meaning it often runs in families.
Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis
While primary focal hyperhidrosis appears to be something you’re born with, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis (SGH) is a condition that shows up during adulthood. Think of SGH as an uninvited guest who arrives on your doorstep with no warning. 
Unlike primary focal hyperhidrosis, the sweating from secondary hyperhidrosis tends to occur all over the body. This is a telltale sign of the condition.
Unlike primary hyperhidrosis, this condition doesn’t have to be permanent. If the instigating condition is found and treated, it can fix the hyperhidrosis. It may take a little work.
If you are concerned that your hyperhidrosis might have an underlying cause, schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor and find out.
THE IMPACTS OF HYPERHIDROSIS
Unfortunately, hyperhidrosis is more serious than just uncomfortable sweating.
Up to a third of people who deal with excessive sweating from hyperhidrosis say that they are constantly bothered by their sweating.
- 75% of respondents reported that hyperhidrosis negatively impacted their social, emotional, and mental health.
- Hyperhidrosis and anxiety often go hand in hand.
HOW COMMON IS HYPERHIDROSIS?
- 3% of the US population struggles with hyperhidrosis. In other countries the percentage of the population that has it is even higher.
Because hyperhidrosis is such an embarrassing and overlooked condition, many individuals avoid reporting the issue to their doctor. This means that the number of people who have hyperhidrosis might even be higher than we currently think.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
Doctors don’t truly understand what causes primary focal hyperhidrosis yet. One theory is that particular nerves that control the amount of sweat overreact or malfunction. That malfunction can cause the excessive sweating that can be life-changing for those who suffer from it.
Since hyperhidrosis affects so many people, researchers are now shifting into full gear to discover the causes of excessive sweating so they can develop better treatments. Future treatments and research for hyperhidrosis are being developed more rapidly than ever before.
What Conditions Can Cause Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis?
Many diseases and medical conditions can cause hyperhidrosis. However, just because you have one of the conditions listed below this paragraph doesn’t mean you’ll develop hyperhidrosis.
Here are some of the more common conditions that may be causing the hyperhidrosis you have developed as an adult.
- A febrile illness
- Heart failure
- Alcoholism - Alcohol can cause excessive sweating when someone is intoxicated, withdrawing, or in someone with an intolerance.
- Lymphoma and some other cancers and tumors.
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
There are also several types of common medications that cause hyperhidrosis as a side effect. So, if you are on medication and you begin experiencing new or increased amounts of sweating mention it to your doctor. Some of these medications include antidepressants, painkillers, blood pressure medications and many others.a 
If you think you might have secondary generalized hyperhidrosis it is very important that you speak to a doctor. Many of the things that cause it can be resolved, and it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Don’t panic, but it is wise to look into the reason you are sweating more.
What Are the Treatments for Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis?
If you are diagnosed with primary focal hyperhidrosis, there are many things you can do.These are the existing treatments for hyperhidrosis, but new treatments are currently being explored by scientists:
- Antiperspirants:There are many over-the-counter antiperspirants that can be very useful when trying to curb sweat. If a regular antiperspirant isn’t cutting it for you, ask your doctor to write a prescription for a stronger one. You can apply antiperspirant to places other than just your underarms. Use it on your hands, hairline, or feet as well. There are even antiperspirants for the face and groin that are made specifically for sensitive areas.
- An Iontophoresis machine:This medical device sends low-voltage currents into a pan of water where your hands or feet are sitting. The electricity can lessen the activity of your sweat glands, at least for a while. However, it can take up to 10 sessions with the iontophoresis machine to deactivate your sweat glands. You may need to use this machine up to three times a week in the beginning and one treatment can take up to 40 minutes. Although iontophoresis as a treatment for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis may give your hands and feet a much needed break, the iontophoresis machine is anything but convenient. Iontophoresis really does work, but patients have to be willing to keep up with a regular treatment regimen for it to work successfully.
- Botox:If other treatments aren’t enough in your, you might need Botox injections. Botox can be particularly useful for axillary hyperhidrosis, but botox can also be a treatment for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. Botox can provide up to 6 months of reduced sweating. If you’re going to pursue this route, you should look for someone who is experienced at doing Botox injections in the underarms to ensure the right area is targeted.
- Anticholinergics:A few oral medications can for hyperhidrosis can reduce the amount of sweat you produce by stopping your sweat glands from working. Most commonly patients are prescribed anticholinergics like glycopyrrolate or oxybutynin as a treatment for hyperhidrosis. These medications also have several side effects, including heart palpitations, blurry vision, and dry mouth.
- ETS Surgery:An endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) is a surgical treatment for primary focal hyperhidrosis. It is an operation where an individual actually has the nerve endings that transfer sensory information to the sweat glands destroyed. Since no known successful reversal of an ETS surgery has ever been recorded, this option isn’t usually on the table unless the other treatments have failed. As with any surgery, it can be risky. There is also a type of surgery called an endoscopic lumbar sympathectomy which is used to treat plantar hyperhidrosis, but this surgery can be very dangerous and is almost never recommended.
Undoubtedly, hyperhidrosis can be a hard condition to cope with. Until recently, the lack of research into hyperhidrosis had made hyperhidrosis difficult to manage. Thankfully, however, new treatments and awareness has made hyperhidrosis much easier to handle. Keep trying treatments until you find what works for you and remember that you are not alone in suffering with this condition. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you can do to control your sweat instead of your sweat controlling you!
- MedicineNet Medical Journal. (2016, May 13). Definition of Hyperhidrosis. Retrieved May 14, 2018, from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=16272
- Diaphoresis: What causes excessive sweating? (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321663#overview
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Amsterdam: Elsevier Pub. Co., 2014. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/books/hyperhidrosis-an-issue-of-dermatologic-clinics/pariser/978-0-323-32607-0
- Lenefsky, M., & Rice, Z. P. (2018). Hyperhidrosis and Its Impact on Those Living With It. AJMC. Retrieved from https://www.ajmc.com/journals/supplement/2018/hyperhidrosis-managed-markets-update-treatments/hyperhidrosis-and-its-impact--on-those-living-with-it
Nordqvist, C. (2017, December 21). Hyperhidrosis: Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. Retrieved May 14, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182130.php
Doolittle, James, et al. “Hyperhidrosis: an Update on Prevalence and Severity in the United States.” Archives of Dermatological Research, vol. 308, no. 10, 2016, pp. 743–749., doi:10.1007/s00403-016-1697-9. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27744497/
Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science. Retrieved from https://www.bookdepository.com/Hyperhidrosis-Janine-R-Huddle/9781633215160
Hyperhidrosis affects upwards of 3% of the population, making it a very common medical condition. This means that there are many people seeking treatment for their excessive sweating. While there are several effective treatments for people with hyperhidrosis, there are some pitfalls that people need to be aware of. All of the medically recommended treatments for hyperhidrosis have been tested by the medical community but it doesn’t mean that they don’t come with their own risks. For those that suffer from primary focal hyperhidrosis proper treatment can make an immense difference in their quality of life. Here is what people with hyperhidrosis need to watch out for as they figure out which treatments work best for them:
The first line treatment that dermatologists will recommend for hyperhidrosis is the use of antiperspirant. Antiperspirant is a type of topical treatment for hyperhidrosis that prevents skin from producing sweat. It is considered to be a drug by the FDA due to the fact that it changes the function of skin. Most antiperspirants, even powerful ones, can be found over-the-counter and are quite effective at stopping a person from producing excessive sweat. Typically, antiperspirant is used for axillary sweating although it has been used on other parts of the body more frequently as time goes on. One of the most bothersome side effects of antiperspirant is the irritation it can cause. When used on the less sensitive skin of the armpit this is not as big of an issue, but it is a problem when antiperspirant needs to be used on other, more sensitive, areas of the body.
The reason that antiperspirant can be so irritating is because of its active ingredient. Most antiperspirants use aluminum chloride, aluminum chloride hexahydrate, or a newer generation ingredient, like aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex. These products can easily irritate skin. One study published in the journal of Dermatologic Clinics found that 26% of patients being treated with aluminum chloride antiperspirant reported stinging and itching sensations after use. If you are struggling to use antiperspirant because of skin irritation there are things you can do. Using antiperspirant consistently over a period of time seems to reduce skin irritation. You can also apply 1% hydrocortisone cream the morning after applying antiperspirant to clear up irritation. If you are sensitive to irritation then you may benefit from trying a newer generation antiperspirant with aluminum zirconium hexahydrate as the active ingredient. Studies have found that these antiperspirants tend to cause less irritation. There are also specific antiperspirants that are made for sensitive skin that you can try. Ultimately, you shouldn’t have to put up with skin irritation to talk to your doctor and see if you can find the antiperspirant that works best for your skin.
Antiperspirants can be extremely helpful for those with excessive sweating, but they come with another major downfall - they stain clothing. Unfortunately, antiperspirant can leave a yellowish stain on clothing, especially when it is mixed with sweat. One study showed that up to 70% of people with axillary hyperhidrosis reported having to change their clothes at least two times a day. If a person is regularly sweating through their clothes it is safe to assume that they are also getting antiperspirant residue on their clothing. Antiperspirant is usually worth the inconvenience, and thankfully, there are effective ways to get antiperspirant out of clothes.
Medication Side Effects
Doctors often treat hyperhidrosis with oral medications when other, more conservative, therapies have failed to work. Most of the time patients are prescribed a type of medication that falls into the class of anticholinergics. Anticholinergics work on the part of the nervous system that innervates sweat glands and stops the body from producing as much sweat. Unfortunately, they can also act on other parts of the body as well and cause unintended and unwanted side effects. The side effects a person will experience depend on their individual biological makeup and the specific medication they use. Some of the side effects of anticholinergics include dry mouth, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and many other possibilities. If you are planning to try oral medications for your hyperhidrosis, make sure that you work closely with your doctor to make sure that you aren’t suffering from intolerable side effects so that you can find the best medication for your body.
Not Trying Less Invasive Therapies First
Almost all doctors that treat hyperhidrosis will recommend that patients begin trialing the most conservative treatments first before they move on to more invasive options. Sometimes, however, patients are exasperated with their condition and want to move on to more extensive options before trying all of the more conservative treatments. This is a big mistake because some of the most effective options are local therapies which are less invasive. For example, a patient with palmar hyperhidrosis who didn’t respond well to an antiperspirant may try iontophoresis, but be inconsistent with their routine and fail to see a benefit. They may want to move on to botox injections, or even surgery, when iontophoresis may have worked if they had given it a proper chance. This would require them to take less risk and cost them less money. However, this isn’t the case for everyone and sometimes patients decide to go with more invasive treatments first for a variety of legitimate reasons. The most important thing is that you communicate openly with your doctor to find the treatment that is most effective for you.
Sometimes, despite their best efforts, patients can’t find an effective treatment for their hyperhidrosis. This can be extremely frustrating and disheartening because hyperhidrosis is a condition that negatively impacts quality of life. However, it is important that patients continue to try new treatments as they come out and that they remain open to using the treatment options they do have. Even if your hyperhidrosis symptoms are not completely under control, most people find at least some relief from treatment. There are new treatments coming out every year and as awareness grows the future continues to look brighter for those with hyperhidrosis.
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
- Zirwas, M. J., & Moennich, J. (2008). Antiperspirant and Deodorant Allergy Diagnosis and Management. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 1(3), 38-43. Retrieved August 22, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3013594/
Hyperhidrosis is a skin disorder that causes people to sweat in excess of what is needed by the body. It is suspected that nearly 3% of the population struggles with the condition, making it quite common. While there are a few different types of hyperhidrosis, the two most common kinds are primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is the most common type and it produces excessive sweating on specific areas of the body like the hands, feet, face, armpits, and sometimes other areas, like the groin. It is a lifelong condition and typically shows up during puberty. Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is caused by an underlying condition or medication and it tends to cause all over sweating and can show up suddenly. Regardless of which type of hyperhidrosis a person has, the effects of producing too much sweat can cause other secondary health complications. It is important to know that hyperhidrosis is not dangerous, but it can cause some unfortunate health related issues. Here are some of the most common complications of hyperhidrosis and what you can do about them:
One of the most profound effects that hyperhidrosis has on people is how it affects them emotionally and socially. This is because the nature of the disorder is embarrassing and it can make people feel isolated. Specifically, hyperhidrosis is known to affect several aspects of daily life like emotional well-being, interpersonal relationships, leisure activities, self-esteem, personal hygiene, and work. All of these are important facets of a person’s life and because hyperhidrosis disrupts them, it makes sense that hyperhidrosis can lead to anxiety and depression. One large study published in the Journal of Dermatologic Clinics stated that 63% of people with hyperhidrosis reported feeling depressed or unhappy as a result of the condition and 74% had less confidence than they would like. While these statistics may sound daunting, when hyperhidrosis was addressed with proper medical treatment a significant number of people saw significant emotional improvement.
One of the most common skin issues that can come about from hyperhidrosis is called maceration. Maceration is the name for skin that is mushy and wet from constant exposure to sweat and moisture. Skin that is macerated is usually lighter in color and appears wrinkly. Hyperhidrosis usually causes mild cases of maceration which can usually be treated by exposing skin to the air and keeping the affected area dry. While maceration itself is not physically dangerous, it can lead to delayed wound healing, susceptibility to infection, discomfort, pain, and skin breakdown. This is why it is imperative to keep skin dry and clean as much as possible.
Hyperhidrosis can lead to a higher likelihood of developing a few types of infections. These include bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. One study published by the American Academy of Dermatology found that patients with hyperhidrosis had a 30% chance of developing a skin infection of any type compared to only 12% of people from the general population. This is a significantly higher risk. Maceration causes skin to be less effective as a barrier and viral and bacterial infections can enter the body more readily. Wet conditions also provide an ideal environment for fungal infections to grow. The most common types of fungal infections that people with hyperhidrosis have to deal with are athlete’s foot which affects the feet and jock itch which affects the groin. Keeping skin as dry as possible and using topical, and sometimes, oral medications can keep these conditions in check.
Warts are another skin condition that is more likely to appear as a result of hyperhidrosis. When skin is exposed to moisture it begins to break down and becomes a less effective barrier for keeping infections out. Unfortunately, some of the infections that can affect the skin cause warts to grow. Most cases of warts are caused by a type of virus called HPV. It is suggested that people with warts keep them covered to prevent infecting others, that they treat them with an appropriate medication and that they do not shave over top of warts. Luckily, they are easily treatable.
Body odor is an unfortunately common side effect of hyperhidrosis. Medically, body odor is referred to as bromhidrosis. Sweat is actually odorless when it is released from the body but it becomes stinky when bacteria on the surface of the skin digest proteins and create foul smelling byproducts. Body odor tends to be the worst when produced by the skin of the armpits and groin. This is because those areas have apocrine sweat glands which create a thicker type of sweat. Hyperhidrosis feet that have been enclosed in socks and shoes for a long period of time also tend to create a worse smell than other parts of the body. You can cut down on body odor by keeping skin as clean and dry as possible, although this can be tricky for those with hyperhidrosis. There are other ways to reduce sweating and body odor that can also help.
While economic consequences may not directly impact health, they certainly impact a person's lifestyle. According to several quality of life studies published in the journal of Dermatologic Clinics hyperhidrosis can have a significant impact in the workplace. This can manifest due to social anxiety or be a direct result of hyperhidrosis. For example, a person with severe palmar hyperhidrosis may struggle to manipulate objects and with activities like holding a pen. These issues can lead to lower work performance. Unfortunately, certain hyperhidrosis treatments are not covered by insurance at this time and this can also deplete hyperhidrosis patients financially. Luckily, treatments can improve a person’s economic position and relieve some of the burden.
The complications associated with hyperhidrosis can be frustrating and make the condition even more daunting to deal with. However, it is important that you don’t lose hope! Hyperhidrosis is highly treatable and most of its complications are fairly simple and can be reversed.
What Can You Do About It?
If you are struggling with the complications that come along with hyperhidrosis there are several things you can do. The first thing most doctors recommend is trying an over-the-counter antiperspirant. Antiperspirant enables the skin to produce less sweat by blocking the sweat glands. There are several different types of antiperspirant to choose from that can be used for a variety of needs. Some brands, like Carpe have antiperspirants lotions that are specifically designed for sensitive skin, while others have spray on or roll on versions of intense strength products. If you haven’t had luck with antiperspirant alone, there are several other medical interventions that can improve your symptoms. These include procedures like iontophoresis, botox injections, oral medications, and even surgery. If you are struggling, don’t give up! There are many options and new treatments are being developed every day.
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
- Common Complications of Hyperhidrosis. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/common-complications-of-hyperhidrosis
- Everything You Need to Know About Macerated Skin. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/macerated-skin
- Walling. (2009). Study finds that patients with excessive sweating condition are more likely to develop skin infections. American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/study-finds-that-patients-with-excessive-sweating-condition-are-more-likely-to-develop-skin-infections.
- How to heal warts more quickly and prevent new ones. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/warts/how-to-heal-warts
Night sweats are a specific type of sweating that, like the name implies, only occur at night. True night sweats are caused by severe hot flashes that occur in sleep. They often cause a person to soak through bed sheets and are not related to how hot the surrounding environment is. Night sweats are also surprisingly common. One study published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that 41% of patients questioned about night sweats at a primary care clinic responded that they had experienced night sweats in the month prior to their visit to the doctor. This is only one statistic and is not representative of the number of people in society as a whole who experience night sweats, but it still demonstrates that night sweating is a prevalent issue. There are various medical reasons that people experience night sweats ranging from benign to quite serious. Below is a list of several of the most common causes.
Hyperhidrosis is the medical term used to describe unusual, excessive sweating that is not related to the heat or exertion. The two most common types of hyperhidrosis are called primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Most commonly, night sweats are a symptom of secondary hyperhidrosis - which is a type of hyperhidrosis caused by an underlying medical condition or medication. For example, some medications cause excessive sweating as a side effect. Due to the fact that the excessive sweating has a causative agent, the medication, a person would be said to have secondary hyperhidrosis. In contrast, primary focal hyperhidrosis develops earlier on in life and has no causative factor. While primary focal hyperhidrosis could potentially cause night sweats, this is much less common. The other causes of night sweats discussed in this article are actually types of secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
Pregnancy and Menopause
Sometimes, normal physiological changes that occur over a lifetime can be the cause of night sweats. This is especially true for women. Both pregnancy and menopause can night sweats due to the hormonal changes they cause in the body. Menopause typically begins some time during a woman’s 40’s or 50’s and signals the fact that her body is at the end of its childbearing years. Between 30% and 80% of women experience hot flashes and/or night sweats during and after menopause. However, it is always a good idea to have a doctor determine whether menopause is truly occuring to make sure that hot flashes are not being caused by a different, more sinister, underlying cause. This can easily be determined through a simple blood test.
Several hormonal disorders are known to cause both flushing, sweating, and night sweats. The causes and complications of these disorders vary and there is a wide array of possible endocrine diseases that can cause night sweats. Here are a few:
This is not an exhaustive list of endocrine disorders that can lead to night sweats so be sure to check in with a medical professional if you are concerned that an endocrine problem may be causing your sweating issues.
There are several infections that can lead to the development of night sweats. Some of these include:
It should also be noted that a fever in and of itself can cause night sweats to occur as the body struggles to fight off an infection. If you suspect that an infection is causing your night sweats then it is imperative that you speak with your doctor.
Unfortunately, sometimes night sweats are an early symptom of certain types of cancer. Lymphoma is the cancer most commonly associated with night sweats. Leukemia can also cause night sweats. If you are suffering from cancer you will most likely have other health issues that go along with your night sweats like weight loss and fevers. If you are experiencing night sweats along with other troubling health symptoms please speak with a doctor.
Mental Health Issues
Another common cause of night sweats are mental illnesses. Most commonly anxiety is associated with night sweating, but it can also be caused by depression. For those who struggle with substance abuse disorders the drug of abuse as well as withdrawal from it can cause night sweats.
Sleep disorders are associated with the development of night sweats. This is especially true in the case of people who have obstructive sleep apnea. People with this sleep disorder are reportedly three times more likely to experience night sweats than the general population. It is unknown whether other types of sleep disorders, like restless leg syndrome, are themselves responsible for night sweats or whether other factors are causing the night sweats and people with sleep issues are just more likely to notice them. More studies need to be done in order to determine the relationship between sleep disorders and night sweating.
Medication side effects are one of the leading causes of night sweats. In fact, many commonly prescribed medicines cause secondary generalized hyperhidrosis as well. Here is a list of some of the medications that can cause night sweats:
One meta analysis found that between 10% and 14% of people taking SSRI’s, a type of antidepressant, deal with night sweats as a result. The use of these types of medications are extremely widespread making them a common culprit of night sweats.
Various neurological diseases can cause night sweats to occur. These include:
The list above is not exhaustive and there are other neurological conditions that can cause night sweating.
Other Possible Reasons
There are some other possible causes of night sweats that include conditions like obesity, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), cardiovascular disease, and others. If you are not sure why you are experiencing night sweats it is important to speak with your doctor and rule out some of the more serious potential causes.
- 8 Causes of Night Sweats. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/8-causes-of-night-sweats
- Mold, J. W., Woolley, J. H., & Nagykaldi, Z. (2006). Associations Between Night Sweats and Other Sleep Disturbances: An OKPRN Study. Annals of Family Medicine, 4(5), 423-426. Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1578640/.
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
- Paisly, A. N., & Buckler, H. M. (2010). Investigating secondary hyperhidrosis. BMJ : British Medical Journal (Online), 341. doi:10.1136/bmj.c4475
- Davis, K. (2017, December 15). What to know about night sweats. Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296818.php
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Unfortunately, excessive sweating can make using sunscreen extremely frustrating. This is because sweat accumulation washes away sunscreen at a fairly rapid pace which makes it hard to keep the necessary amount of sunscreen on skin for effective sun protection. According to an article in the Journal of Travel Medicine about sun protection most sunscreens need to be reapplied every 30, 40, or 80 minutes depending on how they are labelled. Those numbers are not referring to average sunscreen either, that is how often you need to reapply “sweat resistant” and “water resistant” sunscreens, depending on their specific labels. That is a lot of work just to keep sunscreen on your skin for a short amount of time. So, it makes sense that people would wonder if there is a way to stop sweating once they apply sunscreen. The truth is that there isn’t an effective way to stop sweating once you apply sunscreen, but there are ways to prevent excessive sweating so that using sunscreen is less of a hassle.
Another issue for people with hyperhidrosis is that sunscreen may make them feel as if they are sweating more than usual which leads people to believe that particular myth about sunscreen and its relationship to sweat. To be clear, sunscreen does not cause people to sweat any more than they usually would, and that fact has been backed up by various studies. One sun cream company’s founder postulates that this happens because, when sunscreen is applied, it makes the surface of the skin smoother so that sweat pools and it feels like you are sweating more heavily than normal. Without sunscreen, the surface of the face is rougher, so sweat evaporates before it has a chance to pool and cause pressure which makes you feel like you are producing more sweat.
Prevent Sweating and Avoid Sunscreen Issues
While you can’t stop sweating once you’ve applied sunscreen, there is an effective way you can prevent it from happening in the first place. You can do this by applying antiperspirant correctly before you slather on the sunscreen. Antiperspirants are over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis that usually don’t require a prescription. One dermatologist quoted in a news article recommended that patients clean, medicate, moisturize, and then apply sunscreen. So, applying sunscreen should be the last step in your skin care routine. In the case of antiperspirant, it is best to apply it to clean skin at night before going to bed. An article in the Journal of Dermatologic Clinics states that antiperspirant is most effective when given six to eight hours to soak into skin, so applying it at night can make a significant difference in its effectiveness. The ideal skin care routine for someone with hyperhidrosis, who also needs to apply sunscreen, would be to shower at night, apply antiperspirant to their dry skin before bed, moisturize in the morning, and to apply sunscreen right before heading out into the sun. By doing this you may be able to prevent some of the excessive sweating that is so burdensome when dealing with sunscreen. It is important to remember that sunscreen only lasts for a short period of time and it needs to be reapplied frequently for it to maintain its protective qualities.
Antiperspirant is not the only way to prevent sweating related to hyperhidrosis. If you decide to manage your hyperhidrosis with a doctor, there are several treatment options you can try. Which of these options are best for you depends on where your sweating is the worst and the reason that you are suffering from hyperhidrosis. Some of these treatment options include iontophoresis, topical prescription medications, botox injections, oral medications, localized procedures, and even surgery. Any way that you can reduce sweating prior to applying sunscreen will help you avoid issues with sunscreen washing off due to excessive sweating.
Choose Sunscreen Wisely
Even though sunscreen does not prevent sweating and there is no truly effective way to stop yourself from sweating once you apply sunscreen, the type of sunscreen you use does matter. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, but there are sunscreens that are considered to be “sweat resistant” and “water resistant”. These types of sunscreens are able to withstand heavy sweating or exposure to water for a longer period of time than regular sunscreens. You can tell how long a specific sunscreen can be worn in sweaty conditions by reading the label. All sunscreens are required to tell users how long they can be used in water before needing to be reapplied, most need reapplication every 40 or 80 minutes. Using a water resistant sunscreen may allow you to relax in the knowledge that even though you are sweating heavily your skin is still being protected from the sun.
The most effective way to counteract sweating that occurs after applying sunscreen is to combine the two methods discussed above. Correctly apply antiperspirant before putting sunscreen on and choose a sunscreen that can withstand heavy sweating for a prolonged period of time. While it won’t stop you from sweating, it can make the situation much more tolerable.
- Diaz, J. H., & Nesbit, L. T. (2012). Sun Exposure Behavior and Protection: Recommendations for Travelers. Journal of Travel Medicine, 20(2), 108-118. Retrieved April 23, 2019, from https://academic.oup.com/jtm/article/20/2/108/1881585
- Davis, John. “Does Sunscreen Affect Your Performance When Running in the Heat?” Runner's Connect, runnersconnect.net/sunscreen-running/.
- Why does my face sweat after applying sunscreen? And 5 other sunscreen queries answered! (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2019, from https://plumgoodness.com/blogs/plumblogs/172572359-why-does-my-face-sweat-after-applying-sunscreen-and-5-other-sunscreen-queries-answered
- Brucculieri, J. (2018, March 1). Is Sunscreen More Effective If You Apply It Before Or After Moisturizer? Retrieved April 23, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/when-to-apply-sunscreen_n_5a95d6ebe4b0e6a5230236b2
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
- Latha, M. S., Martis, J., Shobha, V., Shinde, R., Bangera, S., Krishnankutty, B., Kumar, B. N. (2013). Sunscreening Agents. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 6(1), 16-26. Retrieved April 23, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3543289/.