Are you bothered by your scalp and hair sweating? Do you find that you sweat a lot from your scalp?
This doesn’t just happen during sports, but even during the day or at night, without doing anything specific?
In this article, I address the existing solutions, tips, remedies, and medical treatments for this problem of scalp excessive sweating.
As usual, I rely on:
👩⚕️ My experience with people suffering from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) since 2012;
📚 In-depth research in the international scientific literature (all references at the end of the article).
The comment section is here for you! Feel free to share your experience, which can be helpful to others. You can also ask your questions, and I will be happy to answer them.
♻️ Last update: september 2023
Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate Links
What is excessive scalp sweating?
Some parts of the body sweat more than others, such as the scalp. Most people sweat from this area of the body, even those who do not suffer from excessive sweating. Men are more affected than women (Lear 2007).
You can already observe this in babies or children, who often have a soaked head when they are warm. For example, when they are playing outside or when they wake up from a nap.
Any part of the body where sweat glands are present can produce sweat. This includes the entire facial area, the scalp, and the forehead. This applies to both men and women.
The most commonly used medical term found in scientific literature is “cranial hyperhidrosis,” “craniofacial hyperhidrosis,” or “scalp hyperhidrosis.”
Most of the time, people experience excessive sweating in other parts of the body in addition to the scalp (most commonly, the face, forehead, or mustache area). However, sometimes people’s main complaint is specifically related to the hair area.
Generally, if you have excessive scalp sweating, you often feel wet or even drenched in this part of your body. You may appear as if you’ve just stepped out of the shower, even though you haven’t wet your hair.
You often need to wipe your face or hair. You may experience more itching, and sometimes excessive sweating occurs even at night.
How many people experience excessive scalp sweating?
It is difficult to provide a precise answer to this question due to the way questionnaires evaluating the frequency of hyperhidrosis are designed.
Often, scalp sweating is grouped with facial sweating (although you can sweat from the scalp without sweating from the face).
Here are some numerical data from a study conducted in the United States (Lear 2007):
- 73% of people with hyperhidrosis sweat excessively from the armpits.
- 46% for the hands.
- 41% for the feet.
- 23% for the face and/or the scalp.
Another study conducted in the United States found the following frequencies in a sample of over 1500 people (Wolosker 2020):
- Hands: 48.34%,
- Armpits: 35.96% axillary hyperhidrosis;
- Scalp and face: 9.41% (approximately 800,000 people in the United States).
Scalp hyperhidrosis is more common in men and older individuals compared to other locations of hyperhidrosis (Nicholas 2015).
In a survey I conducted on my website in 2012, several people also indicated that they experienced excessive sweating from the head or scalp (not necessarily from the face).
Additionally, just for United-States, thousands of internet users search each month on search engines for information and solutions for scalp or hair sweating (which likely brought you to this page).
Often, cranial hyperhidrosis is associated with facial hyperhidrosis:
- 4.1% only sweat from the scalp
- 57.7% only sweat from the face
- 38.1% sweat from both the scalp and face (Garcia 2020).
Between 1 to 2 people out of 10 with hyperhidrosis are affected in the scalp area.
Why do we sweat from the scalp? (Causes)
We all have approximately 4 million sweat glands in our bodies:
- 3 million eccrine glands (found all over the body, especially in the hands, feet, armpits, scalp, and face)
- 1 million apocrine glands (found in the armpits and genital areas).
Eccrine glands are responsible for scalp hyperhidrosis.
People with hyperhidrosis do not have more of these glands than others, but they receive more nerve impulses from the brain, instructing them to produce sweat through the autonomic nervous system.
Several hormones are involved in relaying these signals to the brain, such as acetylcholine.
Hyperhidrosis is often partially genetic, regardless of its location. It can also, more rarely, be caused by an underlying medical condition or medication.
How to reduce scalp sweating? 6 Tips
Before discussing medical and surgical treatments, let’s review some tips to reduce sweating in the scalp.
1. Ventilate/Aerate Your Surroundings
Even if the room temperature is cool, try to ventilate the space by opening windows or using a fan. Circulating air can help reduce sweat production.
2. Choose Breathable Fabrics and Bedding
Some materials are more breathable and retain less moisture. Opt for these materials for any textiles that come into contact with your head, such as caps, hats, bed sheets, etc.
Preferred materials include:
✅ and bamboo.
3. Thinning Your Hair
While hair alone is not responsible for hyperhidrosis, it’s reasonable to assume that the more hair you have and the thicker and denser it is, the more your body temperature increases in that area, making you more prone to sweating. Some tips include cutting your hair short, thinning it out, or tying it up in a way that frees your neck.
4. Anti-Sweating Shampoos for Hair/Scalp
Antiperspirant shampoos are available on the market, specifically designed to combat excessive scalp sweating, especially for individuals who wear wigs (not necessarily due to hyperhidrosis).
Here’s a selection of product I’ve identified, although note that these are not among the recommended treatments by research teams studying solutions for scalp hyperhidrosis.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3,6/5 – 67 reviews
5. Essential Oils?
You will likely come across numerous websites touting the benefits of various essential oils against excessive sweating. Here is a list of commonly mentioned essential oils:
- Tea tree
- Clary sage
- Cistus (rock rose)
- Rose geranium
Seeing so many substances mentioned leaves me quite skeptical about the effectiveness of any single oil. In fact, I have never received direct feedback from people with hyperhidrosis who have seen a significant impact on their condition using essential oils.
There is also the issue of application to the scalp: the quantities of liquid in a bottle are very low; you would need to use nearly a bottle a day to hope to cover your entire scalp!
Furthermore, no clinical studies evaluate the effectiveness of these oils on excessive scalp sweating.
My opinion on sage is pretty much the same as that on essential oils. Although this substance is often mentioned as an antiperspirant, I have not received positive feedback from people with hyperhidrosis. There are also no studies highlighting its effectiveness in any form (tea, capsule, etc.).
What Antiperspirant or Antihidrotic for the Scalp?
Antiperspirants based on glycopyrrolate are recommended as a first-line treatment for excessive scalp sweating. Their reported effectiveness is 96% (Nicholas 2015).
Glycopyrrolate is an anticholinergic substance. It acts on one of our hormones, acetylcholine, which triggers sweat secretion by sweat glands.
Unfortunately, no glycopyrrolate-based antiperspirant is marketed in France (where I live), whether for the scalp or any other part of the body! If you still want to try to find a product of this type, read this article on the most effective antiperspirants against hyperhidrosis.
Glycopyrrolate-based antiperspirants can cause side effects:
- dry mouth (24.2%),
- local skin reactions (8-17%),
- mydriasis (6.8%),
- oropharyngeal pain (5.7%),
- headaches (5.0%),
- blurred vision (3.5%),
- and hesitancy in urination (3.5%). (Revmed 2019)
They are available by prescription only in countries where they are marketed.
The most common antiperspirants are based on aluminum chloride. However, none are specifically designed for the scalp area! In the absence of such products, you can use these, albeit not for their intended purpose:
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3,4/5 – 6,884 reviews
Sweat Absorbing Gelled Lotion (scalp, forehead, face)
What are the other treatments for sweaty scalp?
There are three other medical or surgical treatments for excessive scalp sweating:
- Injections Surgery
This is also the recommended first-line treatment (Nicholas 2015). It involves taking glycopyrrolate tablets.
This is the same substance included in some antiperspirants. It is an anticholinergic: a medication that acts on a hormone, acetylcholine, which is involved in sweat secretion by sweat glands.
Its effectiveness ranges from 80% to 100% according to studies (conducted on a small number of people: a few dozen).
Side effects are common, occurring in 77% to 84% of cases. These mainly include dry eyes and mouth.
For more information on this treatment (how to obtain it, its precise effectiveness, contraindications), see this article: glycopyrrolate for sweating.
Another medication for excessive sweating is oxybutynin. It is also an anticholinergic. There is more data on its effectiveness: studies on hundreds of patients show effectiveness in 70% of those who take it. For more information: oxybutynin for sweating.
Injections Botox injections are also recommended as a first-line treatment.
It is possible to inject botulinum toxin (Botox) into the scalp region. Botox prevents the sweat glands on the scalp from secreting sweat.
The effectiveness is 100%, but it lasts less than 5-6 months in half of the people, and more than 5-6 months in the other half. In all cases, injections need to be repeated regularly to maintain the effect over time.
In France, these injections are not covered by social security. You will need to spend several hundred euros. The most common side effect is temporary inhibition of one of the muscles on the forehead, occurring in 50% to 100% of cases.
Surgery can be performed to reduce or eliminate sweating from the scalp. This is called sympathectomy: an interruption of certain nerves where they originate from the spinal cord. These nerves are connected to sweat glands and transmit signals to them, instructing them to produce sweat. If the signal is blocked, sweat glands no longer produce sweat.
Surgery for craniofacial hyperhidrosis is performed at level T2 of the spinal cord to specifically target the sweat glands in the head region. A rare complication that could occur in the days following the operation is pneumothorax, but this happens very rarely (0 to 1% of cases according to studies).
Patient-reported efficacy is 70%: 70% of those who have undergone the surgery have noticed a significant reduction in scalp sweating, with a positive impact on their quality of life. Recurrence of hyperhidrosis in this area occurs in 0 to 8% of people according to studies.
Compensatory hyperhidrosis occurs in 8% to 85.4% of cases according to studies. This means you sweat in other parts of the body than the one you had surgery on. Often, it affects the back and chest. Some people are still satisfied with the surgery despite this side effect, while others regret it.
The longer time passes, the more compensatory hyperhidrosis appears; sometimes several years after the operation. This may partially explain why some studies find a low rate of hyperhidrosis: they follow people for a shorter time after the operation.
Surgery is not recommended as a first-line treatment.
📚 Sympathectomy for Facial Hyperhidrosis (soon in English)
Blocking the Sphenopalatine Ganglion
This technique has been used on a very small number of patients (about ten) with scalp sweating. It is an endoscopic procedure that involves injecting lidocaine into the sphenopalatine ganglion. The effectiveness lasted for 6 months. (Wolosker 2020)
The sphenopalatine ganglion is located in the nose and contains nerve fibers that innervate sweat glands.
Does Scalp Sweating Cause Hair Loss?
One study suggests a correlation between suffering from hyperhidrosis and losing more hair, although there are many factors that can cause hair loss.
Specifically, people with craniofacial hyperhidrosis are more frequently affected by frontal alopecia: the hairline on the forehead recedes.
You’ve reached the end of this article on scalp sweating. I hope you have found answers to your main questions. Do you have any tips, experiences, or questions? Feel free to share them in the comments; it can be helpful to others!
Do you have any comments or questions? Your comments are welcome 🙂 !
You may also like:
Lear W, Kessler E, Solish N, et al. An epidemiological study of hyperhidrosis. Dermatol Surg 2007;33(s1):S69–75
Wolosker N, Faustino CB, da Silva MFA, de Campos JRM, Kauffman P. Current treatment options for craniofacial hyperhidrosis. J Vasc Bras. 2020 Nov 16;19:e20190152. doi: 10.1590/1677-5449.200152. PMID: 34211510; PMCID: PMC8218019.
Nicholas R, Quddus A, Baker DM. Treatment of Primary Craniofacial Hyperhidrosis: A Systematic Review. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2015 Oct;16(5):361-70. doi: 10.1007/s40257-015-0136-6. PMID: 26055729.
Torch EM. Remission of facial and scalp hyperhidrosis with clonidine hydrochloride and topical aluminum chloride. South Med J. 2000 Jan;93(1):68-9. Erratum in: South Med J 2000 Mar;93(3):264. PMID: 10653070.
Callejas MA, Grimalt R. Glucopirrolato tópico en la hiperhidrosis craneofacial [Topical glycopyrrolate in craniofacial hyperhidrosis]. Med Clin (Barc). 2008 Jun 28;131(4):157. Spanish. doi: 10.1157/13124103. PMID: 18601830.
Luh JY, Blackwell TA. Craniofacial hyperhidrosis successfully treated with topical glycopyrrolate. South Med J. 2002 Jul;95(7):756-8. PMID: 12144084.
Garnacho Saucedo GM, Moreno Jiménez JC, Jiménez Puya R, Rodríguez Bujaldon A. Therapeutic Hotline: Topical glycopyrrolate: a successful treatment for craniofacial hyperhidrosis and eccrine hidrocystomas. Dermatol Ther. 2010 Jan-Feb;23(1):94-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8019.2009.01296.x. PMID: 20136914.
RevMed. Qbrexza – Une lingette imprégnée de glycopyrronium pour traiter l’hyperhidrose axillaire, Medical Letter, Vol. 3, no. 1564, 2017, pp. 26–27.
Karlqvist M, Rosell K, Rystedt A, Hymnelius K, Swartling C. Botulinum toxin B in the treatment of craniofacial hyperhidrosis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2014 Oct;28(10):1313-7. doi: 10.1111/jdv.12278. Epub 2013 Oct 3. PMID: 24118460.
Cabreus P, Swartling C, Rystedt A. Postmenopausal craniofacial hyperhidrosis treated with botulinum toxin type B. J Dermatol. 2019 Oct;46(10):874-878. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.15029. Epub 2019 Aug 2. PMID: 31373068.
Hussain AB, Kavanagh GM. Site of botulinum toxin type A administration in craniofacial hyperhidrosis. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2015 Jul;40(5):570-1. doi: 10.1111/ced.12558. Epub 2014 Dec 18. PMID: 25524392.
Park JH, Kim R, Na SH, Kwon SY. Effect of botulinum toxin in stellate ganglion for craniofacial hyperhidrosis: a case report. J Int Med Res. 2021 Mar;49(3):3000605211004213. doi: 10.1177/03000605211004213. PMID: 33788638; PMCID: PMC8020114.
Moon DH, Kang DY, Kim DW, Kang MK, Lee S. Early results of new endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy for craniofacial hyperhidrosis. J Thorac Dis. 2018 Jun;10(6):3627-3631. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2018.05.190. PMID: 30069360; PMCID: PMC6051804.
Lin TS, Fang HY. Transthoracic endoscopic sympathectomy for craniofacial hyperhidrosis: analysis of 46 cases. J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2000 Oct;10(5):243-7. doi: 10.1089/lap.2000.10.243. PMID: 11071402.
Moon DH, Kang DY, Lee HS, Lee JW, Lee YJ, Lee S. To avoid compensatory hyperhidrosis after sympathetic surgery for craniofacial hyperhidrosis. J Thorac Dis. 2020 May;12(5):2529-2535. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2020.03.28. PMID: 32642160; PMCID: PMC7330312.
Teivelis MP, Wolosker N, Krutman M, Kauffman P, Campos JR, Puech-Leão P. Treatment of uncommon sites of focal primary hyperhidrosis: experience with pharmacological therapy using oxybutynin. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2014 Sep;69(9):608-14. doi: 10.6061/clinics/2014(09)06. PMID: 25318092; PMCID: PMC4192402.
Prouty ME, Fischer R, Liu D. Glycopyrrolate-induced craniofacial compensatory hyperhidrosis successfully treated with oxybutynin: report of a novel adverse effect and subsequent successful treatment. Dermatol Online J. 2016 Oct 15;22(10):13030/qt4wp1g44b. PMID: 28329602.
Garcia-Souto F, Del Boz J, Colmenero-Sendra M, Polo-Padillo J. Craniofacial hyperhidrosis: Clinical characteristics and response to treatment in a cohort of 97 patients treated with oral oxybutynin. Dermatol Ther. 2021 Jan;34(1):e14658. doi: 10.1111/dth.14658. Epub 2020 Dec 15. PMID: 33301207.
Lehrer E, Nogues A, Jaume F, Mullol J, Alobid I. Assessment of craniofacial hyperhidrosis and flushing by sphenopalatine blockade – a randomized trial. Rhinology. 2020 Feb 1;58(1):51-58. doi: 10.4193/Rhin19.119. PMID: 31475696.
Harries MJ, Wong S, Farrant P. Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia and Increased Scalp Sweating: Is Neurogenic Inflammation the Common Link? Skin Appendage Disord. 2016 May;1(4):179-84. doi: 10.1159/000444758. Epub 2016 Mar 22. PMID: 27386462; PMCID: PMC4908440.
Written by Nelly Darbois
I founded this website in 2012. Since then, I’ve been providing information and positive support to people suffering from excessive sweating. I’m also a physical therapist and science writer, living in French Alps 🌞❄️.