A special part of our nervous system (the sympathetic nervous system) is triggered by chemical signals from certain parts of our brain to cause uncontrollable sweating. Certain oral medications, “anticholinergic” medications, can inhibit the chemical signals that cause sweating. Of these, Propantheline and Oxybutynin are the more commonly prescribed by your dermatologist to reduce sweating. These medications are useful in treating sweating that occurs at most body sites, but are more useful when the sweat problem is more generalised and covers a larger area of the body.
Side effects are common with these medications, leading to dry mouth, dizziness and blurry vision amongst others. They are not suitable for all patients and may interact with other medications.
Sometimes these medications are added to creams or lotions, or sometimes with iontophoresis, to minimise side effects or to treat more localised areas of the skin. On occasion, these medications may be combined with other treatments to maximise benefits and keep the dose to a minimum.