Hollywood has long made fun of those who sweat too much. Want a funny dating scene? Then cue in an awkward guy with large underarm sweat rings staining his shirt. But in real life, excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, is not funny at all to those who suffer with this condition. In fact, excessive sweating is not just embarrassing; it can even cause long-term emotional and psychological effects such as low self-esteem. Fortunately, there are ways that hyperhidrosis can be treated, including with special deodorants and with -- believe it or not -- Botox.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, there are two types of hyperhidrosis. They are primary focal and secondary generalized. The difference between the two is that secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is a symptom caused by another condition or a side effect of a medication, while primary focal hyperhidrosis is a condition in and of itself.
The following are signs that your excessive sweating may be primary focal hyperhidrosis:
- Excessive sweating in specific areas of the body. With primary focal hyperhidrosis, sweating typically occurs in specific areas of the body in a symmetrical fashion. For example, a person with primary hyperhidrosis will typically experience excessive sweating in both hands, both feet or both underarms.
- Your excessive sweating started before the age of 25. Most sufferers with hyperhidrosis first experience excessive sweating as a child or a teen.
- You have a family history of primary hyperhidrosis. If you know of relatives who also suffer with this condition, your hyperhidrosis is probably primary.
And these are the signs that you may be suffering from secondary generalized hyperhidrosis:
- Your sweating started while you were an adult. If the onset of your hyperhidrosis occurred when you were an adult, then that is a good indication your symptoms are secondary.
- You sweat excessively over your entire body. Because your sweating is not specific to a certain area of your body, it is considered generalized -- as in secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
- Your excessive sweating also occurs at night. Primary hyperhidrosis sufferers do not experience excessive sweating when they sleep.
If you have secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, you and your physician will need to discover what is triggering it. For example, you could have developed diabetes or gout. Once you learn what is causing your hyperhidrosis, your doctor can then work on treating the condition or, in the case of medication-caused hyperhidrosis, change your prescription. Often, once the underlying cause of your secondary hyperhidrosis has been treated, your excessive sweating will also cease.
With primary focal hyperhidrosis, your physician will first attempt to correct the problem non-surgically. For example, your physician may try the following:
- Prescribe a strong antiperspirant that contains aluminum chloride, which will irritate the sweat glands and cause them to close up more than normal.
- Recommend an oral medication such as an anticholinergic that can help reduce the amount of sweat your glands produce.
Botox shots in the afflicted areas is another FDA-approved way to treat the problem of primary hyperhidrosis. These shots, which can be used on your hands, feet, underarms and face, work by blocking the chemical that triggers your body's sweat glands. The Botox shots typically last between six and sixteen months, and some insurance companies will cover the cost. For an underarm area, you will typically need about 12 to 14 injections per armpit, according to the Harvard Medical School. Patients who have tried Botox to treat their hyperhidrosis are generally very pleased with the results.
There is another treatment called iontophoresis, but it can only be used on the hands and feet. This treatment involves placing the hands and feet in tap water for approximately 10 to 20 minutes while a mild electrical current passes through the liquid.
So if you have been experiencing hyperhidrosis for a while, it may be time to check out these treatments. It is very possible that one could dramatically change your life for the better.