Up to 3 percent of the U.S. population (nearly 8 milion people) suffers from it ... but many don't know they have an actual medical condition. They just think they sweat a lot.
Sweating is the body’s normal response to an elevated temperature. It’s an important function that can keep you healthy and active. But, for the millions that sweat excessively, it can be an embarrassing, life-altering condition.
Dr. Susan Taylor, a noted dermatologist,explains the condition and some treatment options:
How do we define excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis)?
Excessive sweating is defined as anything beyond the level necessary to maintain temperature balance. That can be hard to detect on your own. In fact, a lot of hyperhidrosis sufferers do not even realize they have an actual medical condition that makes them sweat in excess.
A few warning signs to look out for include soiled or damaged clothing, sweating through clothes or even an unappealing cold, wet handshake. Many patients experience heavy amounts of sweat in a specific part of the body like the armpits, hands or feet, but others will have more generalized cases.
How does excessive sweating affect people?
Excess sweating of the armpits, hands, feet, or face can present incredible challenges to an individual. Many patients say they are limited at work and in their personal lives because of the condition, and a number of them suffer emotional and psychological distress.
What are the treatment options?
Nonprescription/prescription topical agents: Aluminum chloride is the most effective active ingredient in nonprescription antiperspirants. They work by plugging sweat gland ducts to ultimately limit the secretion of sweat. To maximize the effectiveness, be sure the skin is completely dry before applying. If you only apply once a day, try it at night. That can actually be more effective than putting the antiperspirant on in the morning. If you are not satisfied with the results from over-the-counter antiperspirants, there are also prescription options that contain a higher concentration of aluminum chloride. You should always check with your doctor before using any of the prescription-strength options.
Iontophoresis: This is the application of low-level electric current to the surface of the skin to reduce production of sweat. This treatment requires between 4-15 sessions at 20 minutes each. Some 95 percent of patients show signs of improvement in two weeks, but minor retreatments are needed every six weeks.
Botulinum toxin A injections: Botulinum can be injected into the skin of the affected area and acts to inhibit the release of acetylcholine from the nerves of the sweat glands. For axillary hyperhidrosis, a significant improvement was reportedly reached in 95 percent of patients after just one week with the treatment lasting up to seven months.