Never Let Them See You Sweat: What to do if you sweat too much.

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Summer is winding down, and it’s been a hot one. Deodorants and anti-perspirants have been a very necessary part of most people’s morning ritual.

Sweating is usually a good thing. It helps us keep our temperatures normalized, and minimizes risk of heat stroke. Our best friends, dogs, can’t sweat, so they try to keep up with us by panting.

But some people have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis that causes them to sweat excessively, even when the body doesn’t need cooling. Up to 3% of the population has this problem, according the American Academy of Dermatology. It can happen all over, or targeted areas like the underarms, forehead, scalp, hands and feet. Those affected are often plagued by embarrassment and social anxiety.

Signs of the condition are:

1. Visible sweating: Beads of sweat might be visible on skin, even when you are just sitting around relaxing. Sweat-soaked clothing is common.

2. Sweating interferes with everyday activities: Sweat may drip from your forehead or hands causing difficulty holding a pen, turning a doorknob or using a computer. Sweat might drip on to your papers or a book. If your feet sweat, they may slip around in your shoes.

3. Skin can turn soft, white, and wrinkly: Think about soaking in a tub until your fingertips are prunelike. When you are bathed in sweat, the same thing might happen to the affected areas. The skin may peel as well.

4. Skin infections: Dampness can cause infections like athlete’s foot.

 

Most cases are genetic, as its common that another blood relative is similarly effected. The condition just happens to pre-disposed people. Other people may have medical conditions that can induce secondary hyperhidrosis such as diabetes, gout, frostbite, hyperthyroidism, and head trauma.

Menopause is infamous for causing excessive sweating called hot flashes. Often, the entire body is affected by secondary hyperhidrosis.

Sometimes, excessive sweating can be triggered by heat and anxiety. Other culprits are monosodium glutamate (MSG)., the caffeine in chocolate, coffee, and tea, as well as hot sauce, spices like curry, cumin or cayenne, and alcohol.

So, if you are struggling, what can you do about it?

 

Antiperspirants are the first treatment that doctors recommend. Try different brands to see what works best for you. Clinical Strength is a fave for many people. There is a prescription called Drysol that can be very effective too. Apply anywhere that sweats, including hands and fingers and legs and toes. Side effects include irritated skin and a burning sensation where it gets applied.

Remember that deodorants mask odor but don’t cut down on the amount of sweating.

Iontophoresis is a small device like a TENS unit. This is an options for hands or feet. You put the unit in a water bucket and dip your hands or feet in. The low level current stuns the sweat glands temporarily. Treatments take about 30 minutes and are done two to three times a week for several sessions until some relief is obtained. After that, most people do a maintenance treatment every week or two.

Botulinum toxin can be injected into affected areas. This use is approved by the FDA. It usually takes just a few minutes for treatment and it can last about 6 months. Some insurance plans cover this.

Prescription medicine like glycopyrolate or propranolol temporarily prevents sweating. These medicines work throughout the body and may cause dry mouth and blurry vision.

Surgery is an option if other treatments fail, surgery may be considered. Surgery is permanent and carries risks. Sweat glands could be surgically removed or a nerve controlling sweating could be destroyed.

Miradry is a device that uses heat and suction to destroy the sweat glands in the underarms. It takes one to three treatments and the results are usually permanent. For more good information, check out the website www.SweatHelp.Org.

Never let ‘em see you sweat,

~Dr Sue

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