How To Manage Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

If you sweat excessively, you may be suffering from what’s known as hyperhidrosis. Although it is a very common problem and it isn’t life-threatening in any way, it can in fact have a negative impact on your daily activities and quality of life.

You know that you are sweating more than necessary if it’s interfering with your life. Excessive and uncontrollable sweating, for example, may cause you to dodge physical contact such as shaking hands with others. It may also make it challenging to drive and use handheld tools. You may steer clear of exercising and doing other physical activities.

Hyperhidrosis

Clinical Features

Hyperhidrosis can be localized or generalized. In the localized type, only certain areas of the body tend to sweat a lot. Some of the most commonly affected areas include the armpits, palms, soles of the feet, face, chest and groin. On the other hand, generalized hyperhidrosis involves excessive sweating of many areas of the body.

Most people with hyperhidrosis suffer from the primary kind. The condition is usually hereditary in nature, and it shows up during childhood or adolescence. Primary hyperhidrosis tends to affect the body symmetrically, which means, for instance, that both armpits sweat excessively. It may or may not improve as the individual suffering from it ages.

Experts believe that primary hyperhidrosis is due to a problem with a part of the nervous system that controls sweating. It may be triggered by a lot of things too, including anxiety, consumption of spicy foods, exercising and hot weather.

There is also what’s referred to as secondary hyperhidrosis. Less common than the primary counterpart, it is usually due to neurological or endocrine problems. The condition may also present itself asymmetrically. For instance, hyperhidrosis may be found in the left palm of the hand but not on the other.

Secondary hyperhidrosis may be localized or generalized. The localized kind is commonly due to problems such as stroke, peripheral nerve damage, neuropathy and brain tumor. The usual causes of secondary generalized hyperhidrosis are obesity, diabetes, menopause, Parkinson’s disease, and certain drugs such as opioids and corticosteroids.

Medical Treatments

Luckily for someone who wants to put an end to excessive sweating, there are a variety of medical treatments available. Some of them provide temporary effects only while others help get rid of the embarrassing problem for good. Here are the available medical treatments for hyperhidrosis:

Strong antiperspirants – Supermarket-bought antiperspirants not enough to put a stop to excessive sweating? A doctor may prescribe a stronger antiperspirant containing high amounts of aluminum chloride. It is commonly applied before bedtime and washed off in the morning.

Anticholinergics – These medications are used for the treatment of incontinence, asthma and others. Because they help in inhibiting the transmission of the impulses of the parasympathetic nerves, anticholinergics may also help manage hyperhidrosis. Common side effects include dizziness, palpitation, mouth dryness and constipation.

Injection of botulinum toxin – Botox injections for wrinkles and fine lines may also be used for dealing with hyperhydrosis of the soles of the feet, palms of the hand, face and armpits. The effect lasts for 3 to 6 months.

Iontophoresis – This medical treatment involves immersing the body parts affected with hyperhidrosis in an electrolyte solution. A weak electrical current is generated for 10 to 20 minutes. Iontophoresis is only applicable for the hands, feet and armpits. It may cause skin irritation and not everyone may respond very well to it.

Removal or destruction of the sweat glands – This invasive procedure is applicable on the armpits. It may involve sucking out the sweat glands or scraping them out. A surgeon may also rely on microwaves to damage the overactive sweat glands in the armpits.

Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy – Also known as ETS, it’s the most widely used surgical procedure for dealing with hyperhidrosis especially of the armpits or palms of the hands. This treatment involves cutting or clipping the nerves that control the sweat glands in the affected area of the body.

sweating hyperhidrosis

Lifestyle Changes

There are certain things that you may do to keep the symptoms of hyperhidrosis to a minimum, allowing you to lead a normal life as much as possible. The following won’t cure the condition but can help in making it bearable:

  • Avoid triggers such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods.
  • Avoid use of tight-fitting clothes and those out of synthetic fabrics. It will also help a lot if you do not use dark-colored clothes.
  • Regularly take showers.
  • Use antibacterial soap and apply antiperspirant to prevent body odor.
  • Put on thick socks out of natural fibers to help absorb excess sweat.
  • Remove armpit or chest hair to keep the area cool and less susceptible to bacterial growth.
  • Relax as stress and anxiety can cause you to sweat a lot.

Credit: Health Digezt

Patrick Fynn

Patrick Fynn is the moderator and author of the Medical Practitioners forum.

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