What Causes Excessive Head and Face Sweating?; How to Stop It

Do you struggle with excessive facial sweating? This is often a result of a condition called hyperhidrosis, although it can also be caused by other issues.
Excessive facial sweating can be embarrassing and cumbersome to those who have. It can be the result of intense heat or exercise, but if someone is sweating profusely from the face for no obvious reason they are most likely dealing with a form of hyperhidrosis. When excessive sweating affects the face and head it is medically known as craniofacial hyperhidrosis. Craniofacial sweating usually affects the forehead, scalp, nose, chin, and sometimes chin. This type of sweating is influenced by levels of anxiety and stress but often has no obvious cause. There are three types of hyperhidrosis that are known to cause facial sweating: primary focal hyperhidrosis, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, and gustatory sweating.

Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

Primary focal hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes people to sweat in excess of what is needed by their body. Specific body areas are usually affected, including the hands, feet, underarms, face, and occasionally other parts of the body. Of those who have primary focal hyperhidrosis only 22.8% of those have craniofacial hyperhidrosis – meaning they specifically have issues with facial sweating. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why primary focal hyperhidrosis occurs, but they suspect that it is caused by an overactive nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system innervates sweat glands it is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. When the sympathetic system is activated at inappropriate times it can cause sweat glands to become overactive. Hyperhidrosis is suspected to be somewhat hereditary, although researchers don’t know the other factors that cause it to occur.

Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis

Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is usually characterized by sweating that occurs all over the body due to a causative agent. It usually begins suddenly during adulthood, as opposed to primary focal hyperhidrosis, which typically develops in adolescents. Sweating can occur on the face as a result of secondary hyperhidrosis, but if it is the cause of sweating a person with it would usually also experience sweating on other parts of the body as well. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect that you might have secondary hyperhidrosis because it is caused by an underlying factor. There are certain diseases and conditions that cause secondary hyperhidrosis, which ranges from benign to more serious. Medications can also cause secondary hyperhidrosis as a side effect.

Gustatory Sweating

Unlike primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, gustatory sweating is quite uncommon. Gustatory sweating is when sweating and flushing of the face occur when someone is eating. It can even occur as a result of someone thinking about food. It is most often caused by an injury to the parotid gland and its associated nerves which are located near the sides of the face. After an injury, those nerves struggle to regrow in the proper place and communication signals are affected. Essentially, the body responds inappropriately to stimuli after an injury or disease damages the nerves.

Regardless of which type of hyperhidrosis is causing you to struggle with excessive facial sweating anxiety often makes it worse. Symptoms tend to be worst during times of high stress. Luckily, there are effective ways to reduce and stop facial sweating so that it doesn’t have as big of an impact on your quality of life.

How to Treat Sweaty Forehead and Facial Sweat

Stop a Heart Attack Before It Happens | Excessive sweating, Face ...

While experiencing excessive sweating can be frustrating, there are a large number of treatment options available that can help. Some of these options include:

1) Handkerchiefs, Bandanas or Cooling Towels

If you’re looking for a quick, cheap fix. These sweaty face hacks can provide some minor relief. Carry a clean handkerchief in your back pocket to wipe away excess sweat throughout the day. You can also wear a bandana to soak up extra sweat. While not a viable solution for everyone, it can help. If you live in a hot climate, a cooling towel can be very helpful in bringing down your body temperature and reducing sweat.

2) Diet Hacks to Tame Facial Sweating

Here’s the deal… your health is oftentimes a reflection of your diet. If you have a poor diet, things aren’t going to work as well. Before you start taking crazy medications or undergoing life-altering surgeries, take a shot at optimizing your diet for less sweat.

What can you do? Here’s a few tweaks you can make to give yourself a fighting chance at beating face/forehead sweat.

More Water: If you’re not getting enough water, your body is going to have a hard time cooling down.Less Caffeine: Caffeine promotes the release of adrenaline and puts your body into beast mode “fight or flight”. Your heart rate goes up, blood pressure rises, and for a few hours, you feel unstoppable. All the superpowers that come from your favourite energy drink or morning coffee have side effects. Yep… with that gain comes some pain – more sweat.

Less Alcohol: Alcohol can increase heart rate and dilate the blood vessels. This can increase body temperature and cause more sweating than normal.

Fewer Carbs and Junk Food: Many hyperhidrosis sufferers claim that low carb diets and Keto diets can be very effective at treating face sweating and hyperhidrosis.

More Vegetables: Vegetables do a host of things to make your body work smoother. Aside from promoting balance, veggies can aid in smooth digestion which helps reduce sweating.

More Vitamins: Vitamins, like Vitamin B, help your body carry out critical metabolic functions and inter-nerve communication that keeps things running smoothly. A smooth-running body works less and sweats less.

You’ll also want to avoid spicy foods and hot foods. Spicy foods trick your body into thinking temperatures are rising and you end up sweating more. Hot foods, like coffee or soup, increase core body temperature and promote sweating.

Excessive sweating is also a common side effect of being overweight. By implementing some of the above diet hacks with some regular exercise, you can lose weight and boost your confidence. (both can drastically decrease embarrassing forehead sweat.

3) Reduce Stress & Anxiety

A lot of people who suffer from excessive facial sweating also suffer from anxiety. In fact, anxiety and emotional stress are one of the most common sweat triggers. It makes sense that reducing the stress in your life can also eliminate the anxiety sweating that comes with it.

4) Stop Focusing on the Sweat

One of the biggest triggers for sweat is thinking about sweat. If you suffer from profuse face sweating, you know what I mean. You walk into a room, you start to think “please don’t sweat, please don’t sweat.”, your body kicks into fear/survival mode, you start sweating, you wonder “do they notice my sweat? I hope they can’t see it”, more sweat follows… and the vicious cycle continues. Eliminate your fear of sweating and it’s perceived consequences and you can eliminate much of resulting anxiety sweat.

5) Clinical Strength & Prescription Strength Antiperspirant

These antiperspirants contain higher concentrations of the active ingredients that stop profuse sweating. One of those ingredients, aluminium chloride, works by plugging sweat glands. Sweatblock is one of these. Sweatblock is stronger than the antiperspirants you’ll find down the personal care aisle as it contains 14% aluminium chloride. For many people, these enhanced-concentration antiperspirants are the best solution. They are considered the first line of attack to control excessive facial sweating. Because you can apply them with a towelette, they can be used anywhere on the body, including the forehead and face. They are also available in cream or ointment form. Applications are often repeated every four to seven days as needed.

If you’re under a doctor’s care for your sweaty forehead, he/she may prescribe an antiperspirant with a higher concentration of the active sweat preventing ingredient. These are only available by prescription and contain up to 30% aluminium chloride hexahydrate. These antiperspirants are applied on the affected area with special applicator pads or a towelette. Be careful, these prescription-strength antiperspirants can cause serious skin irritations so it’s important to follow the guidelines for use and application exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Both clinical strength and prescription-strength hyperhidrosis antiperspirants are formulated primarily for underarm use but they have also proven effective for treating face and forehead sweating.

  • Over-the-counter antiperspirants containing aluminium chloride.
  • Prescription antiperspirants containing aluminium chloride hexahydrate. These strong antiperspirants may be irritating to the sensitive skin of the face and head. Your doctor should be able to help you develop a regimen to manage the sweating and also care for your skin.
  • Botox injections can be used to decrease the activity of nerves affecting the sweat glands. It may take several treatments for the injections to begin working, but they can help with symptoms for up to 12 months.
  • Oral medications known as anticholinergics decrease sweating over your entire body. They may have side effects such as constipation, urinary retention, dizziness, and dry mouth.
  • Certain antidepressant medications may reduce sweating and help address the anxiety that triggers sweating episodes. Be aware that there are some antidepressants that may actually cause you to sweat more.
  • Oral medications known as beta-blockers and benzodiazepines may block the physical signs of anxiety, such as sweating.

6) Botox Injections (Botulinum Toxin)

Treatment with botulinum toxin (Botox) is a long-term solution for face and forehead sweating. It temporarily blocks the chemical that switches on the nerves that cause excessive sweating. If you and your doctor opt for these injections, your skin will first be anaesthetized. Each affected area of your head and/or face will receive enough injections to ensure that all the nerves have been treated. The injections are shallow and penetrate just below the surface of the skin. Botox injections performed on the face and forehead are delicate procedures so you’ll want to find a skilful and experienced practitioner. The procedure is normally not lengthy and can be done in the doctor’s office. The desired effects will last 4 to 12 months, after which the treatments must be repeated. Botox injections have been shown to reduce forehead and facial sweating up to 87%. While safe and effective, this treatment is painful. Some people experience temporary muscle pain in the treated areas. Botox injections have also proven effective in treating gustatory sweating, also known as Frey’s Syndrome. This condition leads to profuse sweating after eating even mild foods and can even occur when only thinking about eating.

7) Iontophoresis for Facial Hyperhidrosis

Iontophoresis is a treatment that has been used to treat excessive sweating since the 1940s. It’s usually applied to the hands or feet but recent improvements in its application have made the treatment more effective for craniofacial hyperhidrosis too. An easy way of understanding this procedure is to think of it as an injection without a needle. It is non-invasive and uses a low-level electric current to drive medications through the skin’s surface with the use of special pads. The process is usually repeated two or three times a week until the desired results are realized. At this point, recipients are switched to a maintenance schedule of once per week. Iontophoresis devices can be purchased allowing patients to self-medicate at home. The equipment is pricey and probably not covered by your insurance.

8) Nerve Blocking Medications for Hyperhidrosis

These medicines are called anticholinergics and are taken by mouth. Glycopyrrolate is the most commonly used. Its use as a treatment for facial sweating is considered “off-label,” meaning that while it is effective in controlling forehead and face sweating, it was formulated to treat other medical conditions. Anticholinergics work by blocking chemical messengers from reaching the receptors in the sweat glands. There are other similar receptors located in various parts of the body. Because these medicines cannot target only facial or forehead sweat glands, sweating is reduced throughout the entire body. Reduced sweating everywhere may cause overheating in some situations, so be cautious. Also, side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, blurry vision, difficulty urinating and even heart palpitations can occur. Researchers have recently found a potential dementia link in older patients (65+) using anticholinergic.

9) Other treatment possibilities

There are a few other treatment options that are not typically used for the face but are still worth exploring with your doctor. Those include:

  • Iontophoresis is a procedure that involves running a low-level electrical current through your body while you are submerged in water. This is most effective for sweating of the hands, feet, and armpits.
  • Surgery to remove sweat glands is another treatment option for hyperhidrosis, although it’s primarily used for excessive sweating from the armpits.
  • Sympathectomy is a procedure where some of the nerves triggering your sweat glands are cut, decreasing the signals for sweat production.

Sweaty Face and Forehead Home Remedies

There’s no shortage of do-it-yourself home remedy tips that claim to successfully treat the profuse face and forehead sweating. Most are astringents used to constrict your eccrine glands and reduce sweating. They can, according to the claims, also balance pH levels. Among the most popular are drinking apple cider vinegar, sage tea or chamomile tea. Adding some honey to these teas seems to help the medicine go down. Tea tree oil is also an astringent that can be applied to the skin. Essential oils are another way to attack forehead sweat. Suggested essential oil remedies include cypress, lavender, lemon, lime, niaouli, peppermint, petitgrain and pine.

Surgery for Facial and Forehead Sweating

Surgery to remedy excessive sweaty forehead and face is not recommended – except as a last resort. The surgery most often used is endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS). It’s a permanent solution intended for people with hyperhidrosis of the hands but is sometimes used for extreme cases of craniofacial sweating. The procedure clips nerves from the spinal column that trigger sweat glands in the forehead and face. Serious and unintended consequences can result including excessive compensatory sweating in other parts of the body.

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