Understanding Underarm Sweat Glands And Hyperhidrosis

Underarm Sweat Glands: Their Function and Disorders

The body is equipped with two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands are found all over the body and help regulate body temperature by producing sweat when the body is hot. Apocrine glands, on the other hand, are located in certain areas like the underarms and groin, and often produce sweat in response to emotional stress. Although sweat is natural and usually odorless, the bacteria on our skin can break down the sweat produced by apocrine glands, causing body odor.

All types of sweat glands are vital in keeping our bodies comfortable and healthy. However, problems can arise when these glands become overactive, leading to a condition known as hyperhidrosis.

Hyperhidrosis: An Overview

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by excessive sweating, often unrelated to heat or physical activity. People with this condition can sweat so much that it soaks through their clothes or drips off their hands. Besides causing physical discomfort, this can also lead to significant emotional distress and social embarrassment.

Hyperhidrosis can either be generalized, affecting the whole body, or focal, affecting specific areas like the underarms, palms, soles, or face. Focal hyperhidrosis, particularly in the underarms (known as axillary hyperhidrosis), is the most common type.

Treatment Options for Hyperhidrosis

Treatments for hyperhidrosis aim to manage symptoms. They vary from topical treatments (antiperspirants), medications, to therapies such as iontophoresis (using water to conduct a mild electrical current through the skin). However, when these conventional treatments prove unsuccessful, surgical treatments may be needed.

So, what is a good surgery for hyperhidrosis? There are several surgical options, but the most commonly recommended is Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS). ETS is a minimally invasive procedure that involves disabling the nerves responsible for excessive sweating. While ETS can be very effective, it is often used as a last resort due to potential side effects like compensatory sweating (excessive sweating in other body areas). Other surgical options include local sweat gland removal or disruption (such as axillary curettage or liposuction). These procedures are often preferred for axillary hyperhidrosis as they directly target the sweat glands in the underarms.


Sweating is a normal bodily function necessary for our well-being. However, when it becomes excessive, it can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Understanding our underarm sweat glands and disorders such as hyperhidrosis allows us to seek effective treatments. Remember that although hyperhidrosis is a chronic condition, various treatment options, including surgery, can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life.