Don’t Sweat It: Hyperhidrosis Isn’t Small Stuff

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You’ve got a special presentation in an hour and all you can think about is the excess perspiration under your arms. Or what about those times you’re meeting someone new, only to hesitate reaching out your hand for an introduction because you know that you experience sweaty palms?

This condition, known as hyperhidrosis, is aggravating at best. Commonly referred to as excessive sweating, hyperhidrosis is more common than you might think; it affects sweating of the underarms, soles of the feet and palms most often. What can you do about this condition and how can you improve symptoms?

What is Hyperhidrosis?
For someone who doesn’t experience excess sweating, it might be hard to understand just why this condition could be bothersome for those who do experience it. First, it’s an embarrassing issue for most! Sweat stains, low self-esteem, especially when you’re managing excess sweating in a professional or romantic situation, and constant worrying about how much you’re perspiring is enough to cause disruption to daily life. There are also more serious concerns; excess perspiration could be dangerous or affect everyday routines. Driving is much more difficult when you can’t grip the wheel, and even trying to write or type becomes a little more of a struggle.

There are a variety of causes for hyperhidrosis, including diseases and disorders of the endocrine and neurologic systems. However, this condition often occurs in healthy individuals; some people may find that excess sweating is triggered by stress and anxiety, while others experience a constant flow of moisture no matter the environment or emotional state.

Treating Hyperhidrosis
If excess sweating is a side effect of medication or a neurologic disorder, your doctor could provide help on reducing the symptoms. A visit to a therapist might also be helpful if you find that you excessively sweat in only certain conditions, such as business meetings or when taking on a task that seems overwhelming. Going over mental blocks might help you learn how to manage and even control physiological responses in various scenarios.

In the event that excess sweating is a daily condition, there are a few things you can do to help reduce symptoms and live more happily! There’s usually a progressive list of options to go through until you find one that works for you.

Solutions for Excess Sweating
First and foremost, the use of over-the-counter antiperspirants is often the initial solution to excess sweating. But it’s important to note that not all antiperspirants are created equal. Look for ingredients such as aluminum chloride, which is more effective than the standard aluminum in common antiperspirant products. Application time of the antiperspirant may be important when controlling excessive sweating; some dermatologists recommend using the products at night when sweat production is at its lowest. If you apply the product only in the morning, sweat and moisture might not let it penetrate the skin’s layers as effectively. Some antiperspirants can be applied to hands, feet and the hairline as well.

Are over-the-counter products not working for you? There are prescription-strength options that contain ingredients such as aluminum chloride hexahydrate. Oral medications are also available to reduce sweating, but always talk to your doctor about potential side effects before starting any medication.

Not everyone wants to go on medication for sweating or finds that antiperspirant is enough; that’s why Botox® has been a popular alternative. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Botox is best used for underarm sweating. Botox injections offer relief from sweating for approximately four to six months at a time and work by essentially stopping the signal from the brain to the sweat glands. If you are interested in going this route, it’s important that you find a physician who has experience in these procedures. This treatment may also be used for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Laser and cosmetic procedures are available for those who want a permanent solution. miraDry® uses energy waves to effectively paralyze the sweat glands, preventing sweating from taking place. Lasers are another option and may require more than one treatment to stop sweating completely. These procedures are often done on the underarms and might require additional steps for sweating of the palms or feet. The final option is a surgical procedure, known as thoracic sympathectomy, which also reduces the function of the sweat glands.

If you have excess sweating and it’s bothersome but not enough to undergo treatments or procedures, there are some simple steps to implement into a daily routine. Wear lightweight fabrics that offer plenty of breathing room. Choose shoes made of breathable fabrics and wear sweat-wicking socks, and bathe daily to keep the bacteria that cause odors at bay.
While excess sweating is aggravating, it doesn’t have to be permanent! ■

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