OakLeaf Medical Network Healthy Viewpoints, Winter 2003
About UsNewsDirectoryHospitalCommunityRecruitmentcontact us

Katherine Parkinson, MD

Botox® long-term relief from severe underarm sweating

Katherine Parkinson, MD
Parkinson Dermatology, SC

Known in medical terms as axillary hyperhydrosis, excessive underarm sweating is a condition affecting more than 1 million people in the United States. The nervous system of people with hyperhydrosis is typically overactive. Overstimulization of the sweat glands by the autonomic nerves causes people with this disorder to sweat up to four times more than normal in order to maintain a normal body temperature. People with this disorder often suffer from difficulty in social situations and say excessive sweating significantly interferes with their daily activities. The condition leads to considerable emotional stress, social stigma and financial costs associated with searching for over-the-counter solutions, and laundering and damage to clothing.

Traditional treatments for this condition have included over-the-counter commercial antiperspirants such as Certain-Dri, medications, electrical treatment known as tap water iontophoresis, and surgery. BOTOX injections for treatment of this condition may be suggested after other traditional methods of treatment have failed.

BOTOX, a treatment made famous for fighting wrinkles, may provide lasting relief for those suffering from axillary hyperhydrosis. In July 2004, the FDA approved the use of BOTOX (botulinum toxin type A) for treatment of axillary hyperhydrosis that can’t be resolved with prescription creams or antiperspirants. BOTOX does not cure underarm sweating but rather is an ongoing treatment that helps to control the condition. Studies of BOTOX treatments show the injections can safely reduce underarm sweat for up to two years.

By using small-dose injections, which then release the chemical messenger called acetylcholine, a temporary block is instituted to the underarm nerves that stimulate sweating. A small volume of BOTOX solution is injected into the affected underarm area through a very fine needle. The needle is placed just under the skin, so you may experience some discomfort. Repeated treatments are required, and their frequency depends on the doctor’s assessment of the area and how the patient’s sweating reacts to the BOTOX. Typically, injections would be administered every 6 or 8 months.

BOTOX is a prescription drug and therefore it must be used under careful medical supervision for all the product’s approved indications. Before being treated for axillary hyperhydrosis, patients should be evaluated for other potential causes of the problem, such as hyperthyroidism, which may require other forms of treatment.


Axillary BOTOX injections can be somewhat expensive and uncomfortable. However, excessive sweating can lead to a variety of medical and social problems and sufferers are typically preoccupied with their condition to a point that an effective treatment is usually attractive, no matter the costs involved. Insurance coverage varies for BOTOX injections, depending largely on the medical necessity of your condition. BOTOX for cosmetic purposes is not generally covered by insurance, however when used for the treatment of hyperhydrosis, coverage may be approved. Check with your insurance carrier for coverage details.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Parkinson, Parkinson Dermatology, SC, 715.635.3766 Dr. Parkinson sees patients in Spooner.