- How much sweat is normal?
- Do you find yourself always sweating? Are you sweating when no one else is? These are two important questions to ask yourself. Everyone sweats a certain amount, and it varies from person to person, however some people can sweat in excess. Usually people perspire more under times of stress, such as, speaking in front of people and during exercise. However there is a small amount of the population that has increased amounts of sweat at all times, not just in times of stress. This increase amount of sweat is called Hyperhidrosis, although not heard about often it does affect 1% of the population.
- Where does Hyperhidrosis occur?
- Hyperhidrosis can occur anywhere on the body, although it has predilection for axillae (armpits), palms of hands, and scalp. This condition can be very stressful for patients when they have moist skin, just imagine shaking hands with someone and having wet palms. Although this is a troubling condition there are safe and effective treatment options.
- What causes Hyperhidrosis?
- Sweating is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system. If you have hyperhidrosis the body’s sympathetic nervous system is working on overdrive, this causes the sweat glands to over react and create excess levels of sweat. There are two types of hyperhidrosis – primary and secondary. There is no known cause for primary hyperhidrosis. Secondary hyperhidrosis can be caused by multiple disease processes; however the secondary form constitutes a very small percentage of hyperhidrosis patients. Primary hyperhidrosis usually starts during puberty and continues into adulthood. Most over the counter deodorants and anti-perspirants do not control the sweating; however there are other treatment options. One option is a prescription medication called Drysol (Aluminum Chloride). This medication is placed on the area of excess moisture before bed and is then washed off in the morning. Usually no deodorant is applied throughout the day. This should be done daily for one to two weeks. After two weeks, if the sweating is under control, the medication can then be reduced to once or twice a week. If it is not under control the medication can be applied nightly under occlusion with “saran wrap.”
- A second treatment option if someone fails the prescription is Iontophersis. Iontophersis is a treatment of electrical stimulation to the problem area. Patients place their hands in a bath through which an electrical current is passed. The treatment causes the sweat glands to be “stunned” and causes a decrease in the secretion of sweat from 6 hours to one week.
- An alternative to the two above treatments is Botox. Botox, which is known for it’s anti-wrinkle ability, is also useful and FDA approved for excess sweating. The injections are performed every 6-8 months; Botox is injected into the area of concern, such as palms or armpits. These injections work well and can give long term results as compared to the topical medications. Depending on the insurance company sometimes Botox is covered due to medical necessity. When it is not covered it does become an out of pocket expense. The side effects are minimal with mild discomfort and mild bruising being possibilities. Surgical treatment is also an option for severe hyperhidrosis that can not be resolved with topical medications or Botox.
Along with medical treatments there are other options that people can do at home to help minimize this condition:
- Bathe daily – regular bathing will help keep the number of bacteria on your skin down to a minimum
- Avoid any triggers that make sweating worse, such as heat or spicy food
- Avoid clothes that easily show up sweat marks
- Wear loose clothing under the armpits, and preferably not man-made fibers (such as lycra and nylon)
- Always dry your feet thoroughly after you bathe
- Wear cotton and wool socks to help keep your feet dry (they absorb moisture)
- Change your socks at least twice daily
- Wear a different pair of shoes on alternate days to allow them to dry out fully
- Try relaxation techniques such as yoga to help you learn to control the stress that triggers the hyperhidrosis
- Watch your diet – try to identify what foods or beverages cause you to sweat more than usual, or cause the sweat to smell offensive, and then ban them from your diet
If you believe you have a sweating issue please call for an evaluation. Dr. Kayal evaluates and treats hyperhidrosis and can offer you many treatment options.