Does sweating ever interfere with your life? More than just embarassing, excessive sweating is a real health condition. Known as hyperhidrosis, this health problem of excessive and random sweating can cause serious self-image issues for the person suffering from hyperhidrosis. It can also be hazardous to work or play activities.
WHAT IS HYPERHIDROSIS?
A person sufferiing from hyperhidrosis, sweats excessively even when the surrounding temperature is cool or the person is at rest. The sweating usually occurs on the palms of the hands, the underarms, and the soles of the feet. However, there are certain cases where excessive sweating occurs all over the body.
WHAT CAUSES HYPERHIDROSIS?
Normally, the body sweats more in warm temperatures or when under physical or emotional stress as a mechanism for cooling. Hyperhidrosis causes the sweat glands to become overactive, regardless of outside influences.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HYPERHIDROSIS?
In primary hyperhidrosis, there is excessive sweating in the hands, armpits, and feet. Although it affects 2-3% of the total population, most people with this condition do not seek professional help.
Hyperhidrosis has two underlying causes: it can be a side effect from a medication or it is a symptom of another condition. The latter is referred to by physicians as secondary hyperhidrosis. There are certain conditions that may be the source of the sweating:
- Diabetes (or other glucose-control diseases)
- Substance and medication abuse
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Spinal cord injury
- Parkinson’s disease
WHO IS USUALLY AFFECTED BY HYPERHIDROSIS?
Primary hyperhidrosis is not uncommon. It usually develops after a child reaches puberty. Both men and women are equally susceptible.
Secondary hyperhidrosis may start at any age. Although it appears to be a simple skin condition, hyperhidrosis may be very upsetting to the person affected by it. Depression and anxiety may develop, especially when the patient has to interact with others.
WHEN SHOULD I VISIT MY DOCTOR ABOUT HYPERHIDROSIS?
When excessive sweating begins to interfere with your daily activities, it’s time to see your doctor. Overly frequent night sweats also merit a doctor visit, as they may not be caused by hyperhidrosis, but can be signs of more serious underlying conditions. Dr. Matsuda and Dr. Sheu in Honolulu will investigate the cause of your sweating and prescribe the necessary treatment.
HOW IS HYPERHIDROSIS TREATED?
The first line of treatment are antiperspirants, which contain aluminum salts. These salts block perspiration by forming a plug on the skin’s pores. If over-the-counter antiperspirants don’t work, your doctor may prescribe stronger options.
WHAT ARE MEDICAL TREATMENTS TO COMBAT HEAVY SWEATING?
If even prescription antiperspirants do not stop your hands, feet, or any parts of the body from sweating, the doctor may suggest any of these medical treatments:
- Botulinum toxin (Botox). Used typically in eliminating wrinkles, Botox can be injected to treat hyperhidrosis. Botox may be used for the treatment of excessive sweating not only in the underarms, but also on the palms and soles of the feet. Relief from excessive sweating can last for several months.
- Iontophoresis. Patients sit with both hands and feet immersed in a tray of shallow water for 20 to 30 minutes as low electrical current is run through the water. Although there is no exact explanation as to how this treatment works, specialists say this therapy blocks sweat before it gets to the surface of your skin.
- Medication. Prescription pills have been helpful to diminish sweating.
- Surgery. Although only advised for those with severe hyperhidrosis, surgery may be suggested to treat the skin condition permanently. One procedure is to have the sweat glands cut out or destroyed by nonsurgical means. The other procedure performed in the hospital targets the nerves that controls sweating.
HOW CAN HEAVY SWEATING BE CONTROLLED AT HOME?
Aside from antiperspirants, preventive procedures may also be done at home to control the occurrence of the condition.
- Wear breathable, light fabrics.
- Use antibacterial soap when showering or taking a bath since it eliminates the bacteria that may accumulate in sweaty areas, causing odor.
- Underarm liners and shoe inserts will also help in blocking odor.
- Ingestion of spicy foods, coffee, and alcohol may trigger you to sweat too much, so limiting their consumption can be helpful.