Trade the Hassles of Hyperhidrosis for a No Sweat Life with the Right Treatment
Not sweating the small stuff just isn’t an option for people with hyperhidrosis, a condition where the body produces excess sweat in conditions where it is not necessary. Of course, if you are out jogging or it’s a hot day, you are going to sweat. You might break into a sweat if you are pulled over for speeding or summoned to the boss’s office. That’s your body’s normal and natural reaction to those situations. But if you are relaxing comfortable at home and are not sick and find yourself regularly sweating heavily, you may have hyperhidrosis. But if you do, is there help or do you just have to navigate life with sweat stained clothes, awkward handshakes and pens slipping from your wet palms?
Hyperhidrosis creates a lot of annoyances and discomfort, but usually is not a sign of a serious medical condition. Of course, to be completely sure you should consult your doctor if you are worried that you are sweating excessively because in rare instances excess sweat can indicate thyroid problems, diabetes, menopause, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments including some cancers. Most cases of hyperhidrosis occur in otherwise healthy people and do not indicate anything serious. In general, excessive sweating usually occurs while a person is awake. One of the clues that a medical issue might be present is if you notice that the excessive sweating occurs while you are asleep. It’s still annoying though! And you don’t have to just live with it. Dermatologists have a range of treatment options that can help you.
- Your dermatologist might start with a prescription antiperspirant containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate. This is applied nightly for a week or two to start, and then applications can be reduced to once a week. While this can be effective for underarm sweating, it is not much help for individuals with excessive sweating of the hands and feet unless it is applied daily or sometimes twice a day. On occasion, the feet will have to be wrapped with saran wrap to help the product penetrate and increase effectiveness
- The US FDA has approved the use of iontophoresis for hyperhidrosis. This procedure uses a devise to apply an electrical treatment to block the sweat glands. It’s been used for more than 50 years. Treatment starts with a few 10 to 20 minute sessions a week and is later reduced to once every two or three weeks.
- Botox has been approved by the FDA to treat hyperhidrosis in the armpits but not the hands or feet. About 20 injections are done in each armpit. It isn’t comfortable but it can lead to six months free of excessive sweating! Despite the lack of FDA approval, the palms or soles are sometimes still treated with this product when the
There are other options that are not highly recommended because of the risks and side effects.
- The side effects from prescription drugs used to treat hyperhidrosis such as glycopyrrolate include blurred vision and dry mouth – which can sometimes be more of a problem than the excessive sweating! However, a significant number of individuals still get benefit from this treatment and have no problem with the side effects.
- While there is a surgical procedure that is effective, it is also extremely risky. Thoracic sympathectomy is used in extreme cases because even with the most advanced instruments, it can cause lung and nerve damage. It can also cause excess sweating in other parts of the body. One of the challenges with this procedure is called compensatory hyperhidrosis; when this happens there is persistent sweating from the mid chest up to the face and scalp which is totally unresponsive to any treatment.
If you are concerned about sweating excessively when you are not warm, ill or stressed, talk to your family doctor or dermatologist. The first step is to make sure it is not a sign of more serious problem, and if like most cases it is not, your dermatologist can help determine which one is the best course of treatment for you so you can finally not sweat the small stuff!