- Best Results2-4 days
- Treatment RecoveryNA
- Procedure Time10 seconds
- Skin SpecialistYou
- Duration of Results12 hours
- Back to WorkNA
Antiperspirants for Excessive Sweating
Antiperspirants are formulated to reduce sweating. Deodorants are formulated to stop body odour. Aluminium salt formulations can be classified as clinical strength antiperspirants with concentrations ranging from ten to twenty percent. The higher the percentage, the higher the chances of skin irritation.
FactsFacts on Antiperspirants for Sweating
- Antiperspirants reduce or stop sweating
- If you are after a topical to reduce sweating, look for a clinical strength antiperspirant
- Clinical antiperspirants contain metal salts, most commonly aluminium chloride
- To qualify for a Medicare rebate you must first trial clinical grade antiperspirants
- Deodorants masks or deodorize body odour
- Learning how to apply antiperspirants can reduce skin irritation
- If your sweating fails to improve with antiperspirants, anti-sweating injections can be contemplated
- Anti-sweat injections are subsidised by Medicare
How do antiperspirants work?
Antiperspirants are applied to areas of excessive sweating. Sweat in the area grabs the particles of agents in the antiperspirant solution through a mechanism known as ‘osmosis’.
The particles are pulled into the pores and form a superficial plug at the level of the sweat gland entrance. This in turn stops the production and flow of sweat. The plug is not permanent, and antiperspirants will need to be applied every 1-3 days, as the plug is degraded over time. Reapplication can be individualised.
What is the difference between antiperspirants & deodorants?
Antiperspirants work to block your sweat glands using active aluminium-based ingredients to stop you from sweating. Deodorants typically soak up the bacteria which causes odour and keep you smelling fresh.
There are many antiperspirants that also act as deodorants, but not the other way around.
Everyday antiperspirants contain metallic salts which block sweat ducts, reducing the amount of perspiration that reaches the skin. If you’re still struggling to contain underarm sweat, a stronger clinical antiperspirant may be required. These have a higher concentration of aluminium chloride, usually 15 to 23%.
What chemicals are contained in antiperspirants?
The most effective antiperspirants contain a chemical known as aluminium chloride hexahydrate in a 15-20% solution. This is the formulation of Driclor (recently discontinued from the Australian market). A replacement antiperspirant is called NMS or No More Sweat.
Are antiperspirants safe to use?
The controversy is with the use of aluminium and anti-sweating lotions and antiperspirants.
Aluminium is commonly encountered in everyday life, from foils, food containers, drink cans and even food! The amount of exposure you receive from an antiperspirant compared to your diet is less than 3%!
There is talk that aluminium can be related to Alzheimer’s disease, however experts and research bodies have dispelled this theory. The safety of aluminium salts has been confirmed by the United States FDA.
There is concern that aluminium in antiperspirants can be absorbed and affect estrogen receptors on breast cells (which might lead to cancer). Several studies have failed to find a link between antiperspirant use and breast cancer. One of these studies was a 2002 US study of 793 women with no breast cancer and 813 women with breast cancer which showed no increased risk of breast cancer in women using deodorants or antiperspirants.
What brands do I recommend?
Patients with normal sweating patterns will respond to commercial over the counter antiperspirants, these include Rexona, Lynx, and other brands. For sensitive skin we recommend the QV range of antiperspirants. For significant sweating, we recommend patients to use Driclor or an equivalent percentage of 20% aluminium chloride hexahydrate.
Given the market withdrawal of Driclor in Australia, the next best antiperspirant available is NMS or No More Sweat. It is available thru all major pharmacies including Chemist Warehouse.
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How to use Driclor or equivalent clinical strength antiperspirant?
Dry the area before application, I suggest using a hair drying on cool setting. This can reduce skin irritation. Initially use every other night, preferably after a shower.
Use a small amount only, allow it to dry on your skin before putting on night clothes. Wash off in the morning and continue to use your normal deodorant. If you have some skin irritation, buy some 1% Hydrocortisone cream to help settle the skin rash. Increase your application accordingly. It often takes a week or two to notice an improvement.
Once sweat production is reduced, you can apply the product two to three times a week, or even less!
*Recommended strengths of aluminium chloride hexahydrate range from 12 to 20%. This can be compounded by My Skin Pharmacy in Brisbane.
**Other options include NMS or No More Sweat. Try the higher strength conventions of aluminium chloride.
What happens if skin irritation occurs?
Don’t worry too much as most patients with moderate to severe sweating will develop a rash from antiperspirants. This is because the skin has irritation from the sweat combined with the chemicals from antiperspirants. In some cases, it is transient, in other cases you will need to troubleshoot (see below).
Tips to reduce skin irritation include- use less product, apply less frequently, apply on dry skin (after using a hair dryer), use at night. In some cases we may prescribe a mild anti-inflammatory cream after antiperspirant use.
If you are intolerant to clinical strength antiperspirants, you will qualify for anti-sweat injections through Medicare.
Does aluminium stain your clothes?
Yup, that is the negative side of aluminium chloride. When the ingredient combines with sweat, it creates a yellow tint that can be nearly impossible to remove. I guess you would have figured it out, hence that’s why you wear dark coloured clothes.
What are some aluminium free deodorant products?
There are many brands without aluminium, Drunk Elephant, Native Men’s & Women’s deodorant, Myro plant based, & QV are just some of the brands out there. Remember, a deodorant’s main purpose is to stop you smelling, they are not as effective as antiperspirants to reduce sweating.
What if these treatments are still ineffective?
If sweating is still impacting your life, you could have excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis. There are several treatment options available including anti sweat injections, iontophoresis, oral medication, microwave treatment or surgery.
Injectable treatments involve injections to the underarm area. This chemical is the same one that is used for anti-wrinkles (believe it or not). It functions by temporarily blocking the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. When the sweat glands don’t receive chemical signals, the severe sweating is significantly reduced. These injections are expected to temporarily stop the production of excessive sweat in the treated areas. Treatments are partially covered by Medicare (with the stipulation that it is undertaken by a dermatologist).
Iontophoresis temporarily switches off the sweat glands by using an electrical current device. This treatment is best for sweaty hands & feet. Dermatologists may use a compound called glycopyrrolate to make it work better.
Tablet medications can block the chemical signals to the sweat glands and reduce underarm sweating as well. This group of tablets are called anticholinergics and include glycopyrrolate & propantheline bromide. You can ask your doctor for a prescription.
Davin’s Viewpoint on Antiperspirant & deodorant for sweating
Patients with normal sweating patterns will respond to commercial over the counter antiperspirants, these include Rexona, Lynx, and other brands. For sensitive skin we recommend the QV range of antiperspirants. For significant sweating, we recommend patients to use a clinical strength antiperspirant that contains aluminium chloride salts. A good starting point is 12%, maximal tolerated percentage is 20%.
Learning how to properly apply these more powerful metallic salts is important to reduce skin irritation. Failing this treatment, anti-sweat injections can be considered. This treatment is partially claimable via Medicare (if performed by a dermatologist).
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