Your Guide to Oral Medication for Hyperhidrosis
There are a million questions but few clear answers about taking
oral medication for
Do hyperhidrosis drugs actually work? What are the side effects? What type of sweat does hyperhidrosis medication treat?
Today we’ll break down the types of oral medication for hyperhidrosis, uses and side effects to help you through the process.
What Is Hyperhidrosis Medication?
The most commonly used hyperhidrosis medications are anticholinergics and beta-blockers. Typically prescribed for excessive facial sweating and generalized hyperhidrosis, they block the neurotransmitters that stimulate sweat glands to help curb sweat.
Hyperhidrosis treatments vary depending on your condition and lifestyle. Physicians often combine several treatments for patients, ranging from:
- Clinical-strength antiperspirants
- Prescription drugs
If you're looking for medication to treat your excessive sweating, know that they're typically prescribed only after you've tried topical options like clinical-strength antiperspirant.
Types of Oral Medication For Hyperhidrosis
Oral hyperhidrosis medications fall into two main categories — anticholinergics and beta blockers.
Anticholinergics are the most commonly used oral medication for hyperhidrosis. Anticholinergics block chemicals that allow certain nerves to communicate with one another, reducing body sweat.
Common anticholinergics medication include:
Anticholinergics don’t spot reduce — they decrease sweating over the entire body, even in areas where sweating isn’t an issue.
Sure, not sweating anywhere sounds like the dream (less sweat? sign us up!) But inhibiting your body from sweating means it can't efficiently cool itself, putting you at risk of overheating. Athletes and people who work or live in warm climates should exercise extreme caution when taking anticholinergics for hyperhidrosis.
Treating hyperhidrosis with anticholinergics is also an “off-label” use, based on years of anecdotal evidence. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) originally approved anticholinergics for other medical conditions like incontinence. They've never been studied for hyperhidrosis in clinical trials.
While often mild, anticholinergics also have side effects including:
- Dry mouth
- Impaired taste
- Blurred vision
- Urinary retention
- Heart palpitations
These side effects can typically be managed by adjusting the dosage.
The second type of hyperhidrosis medication includes nerve-blocking medications like beta blockers and benzodiazepines. These drugs “block” the physical manifestations of anxiety — they impair the transmission of nerve impulses at neuromuscular junctions in the body to reduce sweating.
Because anxiety produces sweat, beta blockers fight the effects of anxiety to help you sweat less.
Common beta blockers include:
- OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox): You've heard of Botox to treat wrinkles. But treatments can also reduce sweat, lasting 4-12 months. (Read more about Botox for hyperhidrosis here.)
- Propranolol: This beta-blocker is primarily used to treat abnormal heart rhythms and angina pectoris.
- Benzodiazepines: Known as "benzos," these medications are typically prescribed for anxiety.
Beta blockers are best for patients who experience episodic or event-driven hyperhidrosis that occurs in stressful moments like job interviews or public speaking. They block the body’s physiological response to stress, easing nervous sweating.
Nerve-blocking medications can provide temporary relief for dealing with stressful events but aren’t a long-term solution.
Beta blockers are also habit-forming medications, and many patients struggle with the sedative side effects like tiredness, depression, dizziness and blurred vision. Before choosing a solution, be sure to discuss all options thoroughly with your doctor.
Other Oral Hyperhidrosis Medications and Treatments
Some people have found success with other “off-label” prescription medications.
Small samples and even single hyperhidrosis cases have responded to medications including clonidine, indomethacin and gabapentin.
Hyperhidrosis medication is also available in liquid form, which can be helpful for children. Other patients have reported adding a crushed anticholinergic tablet to the water during iontophoresis to help treat excessive sweat.
When Oral Hyperhidrosis Medications Don't Work
Unfortunately, oral hyperhidrosis medications can’t help all excessive sweaters.
Hyperhidrosis medication is best suited for patients who experience certain types of sweating, including generalized hyperhidrosis, excessive facial sweating, compensatory sweating from ETS surgery and secondary hyperhidrosis.
- Patients with glaucoma, impaired gastric emptying or symptoms of urinary retention
- Anticholinergics and patients over 65. Recent studies reported a potential link between long-term, high anticholinergic use and the development of dementia or brain atrophy in older people. Patients over 65 years old should discuss the recent studies with their physician before taking anticholinergics for hyperhidrosis.
What’s the Best Treatment for Hyperhidrosis?
The bottom line is there is no foolproof oral medication for hyperhidrosis. It depends on your condition, treatments you’ve tried so far, your lifestyle and symptoms.
Prescription medications aren't the first line of defense for treating hyperhidrosis, and most experts recommend trying antiperspirants and other topical treatments before considering oral medications for hyperhidrosis. Discuss oral medications thoroughly with your physician to make sure you understand the effects and proper usage.
An Alternative Way to Deal With Sweating
Hyperhidrosis medications aren't for everyone. And there is a less risky solution for dealing with armpit sweat. The secret? A sweat proof undershirt.
The Thompson Tee is the only patented sweat proof undershirt guaranteed to block underarm sweat — or your money back.
The ultra-thin, lightweight sweat proof lining is constructed directly inside the shirt, making it light and easy to wear stress-free. And the patented Hydro-Shield technology traps moisture and body heat, releasing it as vapor. That means no wet marks or yellow stains — guaranteed.