Excessive sweating is called hyperhidrosis. It’s more than what you would class as ‘normal’ sweating. People with hyperhidrosis sweat excessively even when they’re not doing the things that would normally make you sweat, like exercise or being in hot or stressful conditions. This excessive sweating can occur in many parts of the body, including the hands, feet, armpits and face. While most can deal with it, for those with significant issues, it can impact their quality of life. From not wanting to shake hands, not being able to hold a pen in their hand, to having drenched clothes. All cause discomfort, embarrassment and then, sometimes, isolation.
Two main types of hyperhidrosis:
Primary hyperhidrosis: This is the most common type and may start in childhood; affects 0-5-1% of people. It’s not linked with a medical condition and may run in families; affects the palms, soles, underarms and face.
Secondary hyperhidrosis: This type is usually because of a medical condition or from taking a medicine. It can occur suddenly and can affect more parts of the body. Some causes might be from the thyroid, hormones, diabetes, some medicine or infections.
How do you treat it?
Botox/Dysport injections, (botulinum toxin) can be given to help block the nerves that make the sweat glands work. Most often used for underarm sweating but also for other areas, like the hands. These injections have become the mainstay for people with more severe. symptoms. Because they are well tolerated, results can be seen in about a week. Often they will last for an average of six months.
Drying agents – aluminium salts can be used in the area. These seem to help stop the sweat glands but may cause irritation for some. Lasts up to 48 hours.
Topical antiperspirants: prescription antiperspirants that have aluminium chloride in them can be used. These help to temporarily block the sweat glands.
Oral medicines, like anticholinergics – can help reduce sweating. But have many have side effects and are not well tolerated.
Surgery – there is surgery like thoracoscopic sympathectomy (cutting or clamping of the sympathetic nerves that cause the sweating). However, as with any procedure, there are risks. But some people do choose this as a more permanent option. Normally for those where other treatments do not work.
Lifestyle changes – avoiding things that make you sweat, like spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol can help some people with their sweating; especially if caused by hormones. For example, for women in menopause. Wearing clothing made from natural fibres, like cotton, may help.
It’s important to see a medical professional to find out what will be best for you. They can help with what type of hyperhidrosis you have and then recommend what’s best for you.