Treating Hyperhidrosis: How To End Excessive Sweating
Hyperhidrosis, excess sweating of the hands, feet, underarms, or other body areas, is a condition that affects about 10-15 million Americans. Many people with this condition experience social embarrassment that can affect their quality of life. Excessive sweat can stain clothes, cause disturbing odor and strain social/business interactions.
What is Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating is a normal part of the body’s natural cooling process. However, hyperhidrosis causes unnecessary perspiration at times when sweating is not needed for temperature regulation. People with hyperhidrosis can sweat excessively in air-conditioned rooms especially in reaction to stressful situations.
Hyperhidrosis can occur all over the body, or it can occur in specific parts of the body. The most common areas for hyperhidrosis include the armpits, hands, feet, and groin area, as these areas naturally have a high concentration of sweat glands.
Oftentimes excessive sweating significantly lowers an individual’s quality of life. Hyperhidrosis can affect a person’s emotional health while also dampening social interactions.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
The exact cause of hyperhidrosis is unknown, and most people with hyperhidrosis are healthy. It is believed to stem from issues with the body’s neurologic, metabolic, or sympathetic nervous system. Some hyperhidrosis can be transient as is the case with teenagers in puberty or perimenopausal women.
Heat and emotions (specifically nervousness or anxiety) can trigger hyperhidrosis in some; however, other individuals excessively sweat regardless of the temperature or their emotional mood. It is also believed that other environmental issues like the consumption of certain foods, drinks, nicotine, and caffeine can trigger hyperhidrosis; however, this varies from individual to individual, making a broad categorization of triggers very difficult.
Hyperhidrosis Treatment Options
Patients no longer need to live life experiencing the negative effects of hyperhidrosis. Today there are several options available for the treatment of hyperhidrosis.
- Clinical Strength Deodorants: As a first line of treatment, patients often try one of several clinical strength deodorants. These do not address the root of the problem, but may be sufficient for some individuals with mild conditions.
- Topical Aluminum Chloride: Prescription topical aluminum chloride solutions are available for the treatment of hyperhidrosis of the hands, feet, or underarms. These solutions need to be applied nightly in order to improve sweating. However, sweating returns within a few days once applications are discontinued.
- Oral Therapy: Prescription medications are available to treat hyperhidrosis. These medications work by decreasing the ability of the body to produce sweat systemically. These medications can be effective in patients with larger areas of sweating; however, because they act systemically, there are some potential side effects such as: dry eyes, dry mouth, headaches, and digestive and urinary problems.
- Botox Injections: Botulinum toxin Type A (Botox) can be used to temporarily block signals between nerve endings and sweat glands in the skin, preventing the nerves from communicating to the sweat glands to produce sweat. Effects of Botox to treat hyperhidrosis can last up to 6 months. Botox injections can be used to treat hyperhidrosis of the hands, feet, and underarms.
- miraDry Laser: miraDry is a non-invasive treatment that is FDA approved for the treatment of excessive underarm sweating (axillary hyperhidrosis). The miraDry laser uses microwave energy to create heat to destroy sweat glands under the arm, so the effects are long-lasting. The treatment is done using local anesthesia only. Two treatments spaced 3 months apart are recommended to achieve long-lasting reduction in sweating. Currently, this treatment is only available for use in the underarms.