Primary focal hyperhidrosis can affect many body parts, and some are more easily treated than others. For some locations, like the hands, there are several treatment options available. Anything from antiperspirants to iontophoresis for palmar hyperhidrosis can be utilized to treat hyperhidrotic skin. Unfortunately, other areas, especially the face and groin, are harder to treat because of the sensitive nature of the skin on those parts of the body. These areas also present a challenge because they are so important to human functioning. Any treatments used to treat the skin of the face and groin must not cause too much further discomfort because those areas are crucial to daily function, and because they can be easily damaged. This is why it is so important for patients to understand their treatment options and the products available to them. For those who suffer from craniofacial hyperhidrosis and excessive groin sweat, there are antiperspirants and other treatments available that are able to reduce sweating without causing damage to sensitive skin.
The Ingredients in Over-the-Counter Antiperspirants and How They Affect Skin
Over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis are the first-line options for both craniofacial and groin sweating. However, finding an antiperspirant that is both effective and appropriate for sensitive skin can be a challenge. It is important to remember that before applying any antiperspirant to a sensitive area, it is a good idea to manage hyperhidrosis with a doctor and get their approval before trying a new treatment, even if it is over-the-counter. Before trying any new product on sensitive skin, test it on another area of the body to make sure no allergic reactions or irritation occur as a result.
It is important to understand the different kinds of antiperspirants available on the market before discussing specific products. The most common types of antiperspirants used to treat hyperhidrosis contain aluminum chloride or aluminum chloride hexahydrate. Aluminum is thought to work by obstructing eccrine sweat gland ducts so that sweat productions is limited. The metal ions in the aluminum interact with other molecules in the skin in such a way that the epithelial cells in sweat glands are damaged and form a sort of plug. It is highly effective at reducing sweat production. Some studies have found that aluminum chloride can be quite irritating, making it tricky to use on sensitive areas. Doctors may recommend using 1% hydrocortisone cream to treat irritation caused by aluminum chloride. Antiperspirants with aluminum chloride hexahydrate are usually clinical strength. These may be necessary if aluminum chloride alone is not effective. In order to make products with these ingredients work more effectively, it is important for users to apply them at night to allow a plug to form.
One of the drawbacks of using aluminum chloride or aluminum chloride hexahydrate is that they can be very irritating. One study found that when mixed with salicylic acid, aluminum chloride hexahydrate produced much less irritation and still effectively reduced sweating. Some products now use both of these ingredients together in order to reduce side effects.
Newer, clinical strength over-the-counter antiperspirants often use an ingredient called aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex to reduce sweating associated with hyperhidrosis. These products have been shown to provide more sweat protection and cause less irritation than aluminum chloride products. Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex blocks sweat ducts in a similar way to aluminum chloride, but at a more superficial level. It also produces much less HCl, the chemical that causes skin irritation, than typical aluminum chloride formulations. These newer products may provide a solution for people with sweating in more sensitive areas.
Another active ingredient called aluminum sesquichlorohydrate is now being used in some of the newest antiperspirants on the market. It is said to cause less irritation but still effectively reduces sweating. Currently there are no major studies corroborating its effectiveness although these may come in the future.
Antiperspirants for the Face and Groin
There are several antiperspirant options for people with craniofacial hyperhidrosis and for people who experience excessive groin sweating. When choosing an antiperspirant for facial sweating there are two options: to use an antiperspirant originally designed for another part of the body, or to use an antiperspirant designed specifically for the face. There have been no official studies on the effectiveness of antiperspirants in the treatment of craniofacial hyperhidrosis. However, antiperspirants are effectively used by many to manage facial sweating. The skin around the groin area can be just as sensitive as the skin of the face. There are no products that are currently marketed specifically for use in the perineal region, but listed below are antiperspirants that can be safely used on both the face and the groin. Before trying any of these products, speak to a dermatologist. Finding the right antiperspirant may require trial and error, but it can make a big difference in a person’s quality of life.
There is a product on the market that claims to specifically reduce facial sweating. It is marketed towards women who wear makeup, as a way to prevent sweat from ruining their look. They can, however, be useful for anyone who struggles with a sweaty face. Here is a look:
This is a list of antiperspirants that can be safely used on the face on the face or groin. These antiperspirants are marketed for sensitive skin and contain active ingredients that have scientifically shown to be effective:
Sweating on either the face or groin can cause sufferers to experience the anxiety that often accompanies hyperhidrosis. While these antiperspirants are not perfect, they may allow sweat sufferers to find quick relief from a non invasive and safe source. If over-the-counter antiperspirants do not provide enough relief, then patients should look into trying some of the other medical treatment options that are available, as well as incorporating anxiety reduction techniques that can reduce sweating into their routine.
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
- Wollery-Lloyd, H., MD, & Valins, W. (2009). Aluminum Chloride Hexahydrate in a Salicylic Acid Gel: A Novel Topical Agent for Hyperhidrosis with Decreased Irritation. Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology, 2(6). Retrieved September 17, 2018.
- Nicholas, R., Quddus, A., & Baker, D. M. (2015). Treatment of Primary Craniofacial Hyperhidrosis: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 16(5), 361-370. doi:10.1007/s40257-015-0136-6
- Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science.