Hyperhidrosis is a chronic condition in which you perspire excessively when your body is under normal, everyday circumstances.
Hyperhidrosis causes both sides of your body to sweat even when you are not overheated, nervous, or exercising. It may occur unnecessarily at least once a week, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although you may initially consult your general practitioner about hyperhidrosis, you will most likely be referred to a dermatologist, which is a specialist who treats conditions of the skin.
How many people have hyperhidrosis?
The American Academy of Dermatologists estimates that three percent of Americans suffer from hyperhidrosis. Dermatologists believe the number of those experiencing the condition may be much higher than what has been diagnosed because many who do not realize that hyperhidrosis is a treatable medical condition do not seek help for their symptoms.
How is hyperhidrosis treated?
There are two kinds of hyperhidrosis. Primary starts as early as childhood and is caused by an overreactive nervous system. Secondary hyperhidrosis is usually a symptom of another medical condition or a side effect from medication. Treatments for hyperhidrosis include:
- Topical Treatment
Your physician may firstly recommend starting with an over-the-counter antiperspirant in addition to using a deodorant. Most products on the shelves are a combination of the two. Antiperspirants will address your sweating problem by plugging your sweat glands so no sweat can get out. In addition to the under arms, you may apply antiperspirant to the areas most commonly affected by hyperhidrosis, such as the hands and feet and the back of the neck and hairline.
Patients who see the best results are those who apply antiperspirant at bedtime and reapply in the morning. Nighttime applications, even when washed off in the morning, are more vital to successful treatment than are morning applications because they allow ample time for your sweat glands to absorb the antiperspirant and become plugged. The minimal amount of perspiration that occurs during sleep also facilitates the absorption of antiperspirant by your sweat glands.
It is best to choose a mild product first and work up to stronger concentrations until you find relief without it irritating your skin. Several manufacturers now offer clinical strength products.
If over-the-counter antiperspirants and deodorants are not working for you, there are a few prescription options, which are applied at bedtime. Clinical strength antiperspirants tend to irritate the skin. It is a good idea to let your doctor know if your skin becomes irritated.
Deodorant is not necessarily considered a treatment for hyperhidrosis, but may still be recommended. Sweat, mostly made up of salt and water, is odorless but makes the presence of body odor a stronger possibility. Bacteria that live on the surface of the skin thrive in moist environments, such as excessively wet underarms. They metabolize the sweat and produce a foul-smelling acid otherwise known as body odor.
Deodorants address odor in two ways. They contain antibacterial elements that will limit the amount of bacteria in the underarms. Secondly, deodorants are scented with fragrance, which helps to mask unwanted odor. Deodorant may be applied at night and reapplied in the morning. If a morning shower is not possible, the underarms should be washed with antibacterial soap to remove any bacteria and odor from the night.
- Oral Medication
When hyperhidrosis affects your entire body, an oral medication that prevents the body from sweating may work for you. Because these medications can hinder the body’s ability to regulate temperature, they can be dangerous and should be used with caution, especially in warm climates.
Iontophoresis is an underwater procedure used to treat hyperhidrosis. Patients with symptoms involving the hands and feet are usually candidates for inotophoresis. While submerged under water, your hands or feet will absorb low-impulse electrical currents. Treatment involves a several-week course of daily intervals and then tapers off.
Botulinum toxin, or botox, injections have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for treating the underarms, according to the National Institutes of Health. The injections temporarily stop the overactive nerves from signaling your sweat glands to work so hard. Botox injections can be painful if not administered correctly, and many patients cannot afford them.
When other treatments fail, your doctor may suggest removing the overactive sweat glands. Surgery is usually an outpatient procedure that occurs in the doctor’s office. A sweat gland removal or disconnection procedure may involve cutting or scraping out the sweat glands. Liposuction and laser surgery are other ways in which sweat glands may be removed.
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