Living Life as An Excessive Sweater

A nice slim-fitting grey polo-neck. A gorgeous red dress with sleeves. A figure-skimming satin slip dress in ochre. A slinky camel-coloured bodysuit. In fact, ANY item of coloured (or grey) clothing that fits remotely close to the upper half of the body – it’s on my banned list. Why? Because black is the most chic? I’m a hate colour? Orrrrr is it because I suffer from excessive sweating and all of these things will start to show sweat patches approximately 78 seconds after putting it on my freshly anti-perspirant-applicated body?! Yes, I’m guessing you guessed that it is indeed the latter.

Hello my name is Sophie and I am an excessive sweater.

Or, I have hyperhidrosis, as it is medically called. It’s not that it even smells. I don’t have a BO problemo. It’s just a moisture-related one. Yuck. My sweating is – and always has been – its absolute worst under my arms. My underboob can get a bit sweaty sometimes, as can my back. My face and hands and feet and the rest of me remains pretty unscathed and well, dry. But my armpits? Touch my armpit at any given time during summer or winter, no matter the temperature, theres a 95% chance it’ll be damp to some varying degree.

It’s taken years to feel in a place where I feel comfortable talking about it. I’ve mentioned it briefly on my socials before, mostly in passing when discussing clothes to wear in the summer. And whenever I have mentioned my these issues and that I have tried everything to fix it, I alway have responses like: “but you don’t look like you sweat loads?” “I never see you looking sweaty?” – er, yeah… after 15 years of suffering with excessive sweating I just so happen to know a few things about how to hide it. It’s either that OR I get people jump down my throat with suggestions. “Mitchum is AMAZING! It stops me sweating!!” ” Omg have you dried Driclor/Perspirex/ Anhydrol Forte *insert another deodorant of the same vein* it works by blocking your sweat ducts!!!” “I’ve had Botox and it’s a miracle!!” I want to be grateful, and always remain polite. But yeah, I have tried everything, apart from major surgery to remove my sweat glands. E V E R Y T H I N G.

Excessive sweating is something that has plagued me for over half of my life. When it first started when I was 13, I was so mortified. We had to wear blue shirts at school, and I’d wear the baggiest one underneath the baggiest sweater – and I would still sweat through to my school sweatshirt. I’d have to keep my arms down all day to avoid anyone else seeing – which made it worse. And this was during a stage where I was occasionally bullied – so the anxiety of being caught out with sweat patches and bullied more for that just made me sweat even more. It was hell. I tried to wear a white shirt instead – but I got sent to the head teacher’s office and a note in my school planner for my parents to view and sign becuase I was breaking uniform regulations. (Shoutout to my mum, who’s written response to the teacher was “a white shirt is better than no shirt” – we love a sassy queen)

I would use the strongest anti-perspirants on the market but all they did – and all they still do to me now – is prevent me from having BO. It makes things smell good – but it doesn’t stop the sweating. So I went to the doctor and was prescribed a special deodorant called Anhydrol Forte (which you can get for a fiver without prescription anyway) that works by essentially blocking the sweat ducts. It’s the same as Driclor and Perspirex – they all have around 20% of the active ingredient aluminium chloride hexahydrate, that creates a gel in the pores that prevents as much sweat getting out.

I can tell you now, it was a miracle. I could wear whatever clothes I wanted. I could wear tighter fitting school uniform – let my school hoe phase commence! I could lift my arms up. And I could just RELAX! I didn’t feel anxious all of the time (which ALWAYS made the sweating worse).

The problem? It doesn’t work forever. Your body eventually gets used to it. So after continued use for some time, the sweating returned. I probably got a couple years of not sweating before it returned and it was like, ok great, back to square one.

I knew the only other options at that point were botox or surgery, but I just put up with it for the following years until I settled in London. I couldn’t afford to pay for Botox for hyperhidrosis, so went to the doctor who referred me to dermatology and endocrinology to make sure there were no underlying factors. I was put on a medication which dries your eyes out and makes peeing difficult – and despite that, still, I was sweating. After around 18 months of being passed between departments and long appointments, I got put on the NHS’ hyperhidrosis scheme where they’d administer botox to prevent sweating. There’s no numbing agents applied on the NHS scheme, whereas if you have the treatment privately there should be, so 26 injections of botox went into each armpit. It stung more than anything.

But once again, I’d found a miracle! I went to Thailand, and despite the fact I’d feel warm under my arms, I hardly sweat at all, and noticed no extra compensatory sweating elsewhere on my body (which can often happen when you have a sweating-reduction treatment) Problem is, once again, it doesn’t last – so I’d be going for top-ups every six months.

Worst still, the second round seemed only 10% effective as opposed to the first time which reduced around 80% of my underarm sweat. After going for my third time, and finding it so painful that I cried all the way through, my doctor suggested if this didn’t work I should consider a relatively new treatment called MiraDry.

Now, MiraDry had kind of been hailed as a miracle. What is it, exactly? It’s a treatment done by a machine that works by delivering precisely controlled “electromagnetic energy” to the underarms. It destroys the glands by heating and eliminating them. Sweat glands are not meant to come back after treatment. It costs around £1k-£1.5k for a first round, so it is expensive.

A couple of years after my last botox appointment, and simply dealing with my sweating issues by dressing to cover it, I decided to go ahead and book Miradry. I was warned it is usually anything around 40-80% effective for the first round and that second rounds are often suggested for those who need it, but to me, even 40% would be an amazing improvement I’d be happy with.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this treatment for you: it was PAINFUL. I’ve had procedures before, I’ve had surgery and had burns and some nasty medical things done before, but this treatment was probably the worst I went through. And I felt that the clinic I went to seriously downplayed the pain, discomfort and downtime. I was warned that after I would be sore, swollen, and it would feel like there were golfballs under my arms so that I wouldn’t be able to put my arms down properly. For the treatment itself, the worst bit was receiving local anaesthetic that is pumped under your arms using a long cannula needle that pierces and goes under the skin of your armpit in 3-4 incisions. This stings so badly and your instinctive reaction is to want to pull your arms down but you can’t. The actual treatment itself was then painless – but jesus. All I could think was I HOPE this works.

Let’s talk downtime: it was not minimal. I was SO swollen – what I was told would feel like gold balls under my arm felt more like rock hard tennis balls. I couldn’t put my arms down for DAYS. It took a full 10 days to fully be able to let my arm lie flat against my side – which made travelling a nightmare on the tube and buses. And probably 4-6 weeks for my swelling to completely go down. I also suffered something the clinic called “banding” – they warned me this could happen, and of course, it did. It’s when fibrous bands underneath your skin tighten up under your arm, which made it hard to fully extend my arms above my head and in front of me.

I’d love to say this is the bit where I’m like “BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT” – but yeah, no. Nope. That’s not going to happen. Sweating was reduced around 60% at first… which I was like, wow oh my god this is great. Not sure it was worth the pain and recovery after, but still great… Fast forward 3 months and my sweating is as bad as ever. It’s like nothing ever changed.

Now, I’m telling you, I think I was just born to sweat. And as frustrating as it is, I’m actually okay with it now. I never thought there would be a time that I didn’t care so much about it. I always thought I would be mortified at the idea of sweat patches on my clothes. But after living in London and seeing the temperatures soar on the tube, you learn to give less fucks about those moist (ew) patches on clothing. Plus, the less fucks we all seem to give as we get older, the more of my friends have opened up about their own personal struggles with the same so I feel a hell of a lot less alone. You just get over it. And sometimes you do have to put pantyliners into the underarms of your clothes – it is what it is! Mostly I still avoid clothes I know that will make me sweat. And it pisses me off when I notice sweat patches starting to appear under my arms – but now it’s more like “yeah whatever I’m human and we all get them at time to time”.

So, here we go. That was my confessional post about being a secret excessive sweater. I didn’t know what I wanted to achieve by this – I just hope that people who are struggling with this issue find some solace in knowing that others have this problem and it’s okay. And it really isn’t as much of a big deal as you may feel it is. I hope it also clears up some information on the treatments available – I believe I’ve been VERY unlucky with nothing working for me. Others might not be so!

ASOS and Missguided have shopping categories like “jeans and a nice top”, so can we please please get a category for sweaty bitches like me, featuring and edit of the most killer selection of loose tops, drop armholes in breezy cottons and linens? Please?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

8 Comments

  1. Can relate to all of this, my wardrobe is almost exclusively white or black tops to go with colourful/patterned trousers or skirts to make up for the fact I never wear colour on top. But even still some whites and blacks betray you and you wonder what’s the point, might as well have worn red or grey 🙄 thanks for sharing, if I had read this at 13 it would have made a big difference knowing it wasn’t just me!

  2. Thank you SO much for writing this. I’m exactly the same as you and at this point have just had to accept it’s one of those things I have to learn to live with.

    I’m so envious of anyone who can wear a grey t shirt (or a white t shirt more than 3 times without ruining it!) but I’ve just come to accept it. Lovely to know I’m not alone!

  3. I just stumbled across your Instagram recently & have now found myself here! I just had to comment as I love your realness & the fact that you give zero f**ks regarding how others perceive you is sooo nice to see & read 🖤

  4. Hey,

    I started to have excessive sweating at the age of 29. (I’m 42 now). Drip drip dripping from face, back of neck, under armpit when I’m on the tube, even if I walk for a long while and hated it. I remember when I was in Capri Italy with partner and his friends walking up the stairs and had to borrow his friends flannel so I could wipe my face which was very embarrassing. Went to the doctors and was prescribed some roll on but it used to sting. Tried every roll on and nothing worked.

    I think now I’m just used to it as now I have a one year old boy so I’m always more active now. I still do wish I didn’t have this excessive sweating.

  5. Thank you for talking about something that I have always suffered from, especially when I was at school. My armpits were always drenched and I used to have to dry them under the hand dryer at school all the time. It was so embarrassing. I used to use driclor but it made my armpits so sore and red it literally burned my skin but it was effective for a while so put up with the pain. Still now, although nowhere near as bad, I still sweat quickly as soon as I get warm on my head, back and armpits.
    I’m sure your article will have made a lot of people feel better knowing other people are the same because when I was at school I felt like I was the only one!

  6. Thank you for publishing this post Sophie! I suffer from excessive sweating (because of my illness) and it really frustrates and embarrasses me when you can see the sweat patches on my tops, dresses etc. I’m like you, I suffer badly from underboob sweat! I really hope this post inspires others who suffer with the same problem to realise that it’s not just them! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  7. I just found this because i searched google trying to find an answer! Everything you said is what im dealing with! Same at school in the shirt under the jumper, thankfully the jumper we had was a meterial that you couldnt see sweat come through! This issue has prevented me taking certain jobs! Before i apply i check the uniform! If its a shirt its a no! If its a fleese great!lol Ive tried every deodrant on the shelves. Nothing works. Tried the one from the dr, caused alergic reaction and had red raw armpits! It anoys me seing other women just wear anything they like! Like why cant i.grrr! When i shop i have to consider if it will show sweat patches or not before i buy anything! At work everyday i have to keep going to the toilets and using the hand dryer to dry my top! With my eyes on the door incase any1 enters😳 Im sick of it! But im glad im not the only 1 dealing with this. Thanks for sharing your story and showing that other ladies are having this issue too.

  8. Phew …
    It’s not just me.. growing up my Teens and early to mid 20s .. I struggled with my mental attitude towards my appearance.. and to top those feelings of.. I’m not normal why me.. my underarms had and still to this day Aged 43 sweat in every season and in any kind of motions I make throughout my day.. I wore huge oversized mens T-Shirts.. which again helped the fact i had no sweat patches which temporarily reduced my Anxiety levels for this.. hiwever having to wear tops always bigger than my size ( I have always been a 5ft 2inch chunkydunk from late teens 🤣🤣🤣🙈) however I later realized that my mental attitude towards my appearance.. was more from my continued sweating and wearing oversized clothes to combat the issue.. than me actually having no self confidence of my body type and appearance… so when that penny finally dropped for me that’s when I actually decided hey beautiful lady BE YOU BE BOLD BE HAPPY.. and that’s exactly what I did 25 years ago.. I wear clothes that yes shows my perspiration in my underarms.. and shows the real me #BIG#BOLD#BEAUTYISSKINDEEP..
    And I had realised also that the less I was becoming mindful and conscious of my sweating underarms that actually ppl who I do or don’t know really don’t when around anyone actually stare or become very standoffish.. this actually happened more so when me my self and I was in mid conversations or when hugs were taking place always looking and lifting up my arms to see how bad the sweat patches where.. hahaha
    So again I’ve stopped this to the best of my conscious mind but on very few occasions my subconscious side does take a sneaky peaky..
    Sorry for this long comment but if it’s in myhead and related to something I have read . It has to exit my brain..
    Take care all you beautiful people xxx