Many people think excessive sweating is due to poor personal hygiene. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hyperhidrosis is primarily a neurologic disorder; but endocrine, infectious, or some other systemic diseases can also cause hyperhidrosis in otherwise healthy people. Although high temperatures, intense physical activity or stress can trigger excessive sweating, it is true that people suffering from hyperhidrosis may sweat excessively during waking hours, in spite of the weather or other internal and external conditions.
While normal sweating is the body’s cooling mechanism, in hyperhidrosis the nervous system is overactive and triggers the sweat glands to work up without any reason. Excessive sweating can lead to dry skin, which would eventually need extra care and moisturising. Excessive sweating can make the sufferer prone to skin infections, as well. In these conditions, medical assistance may be required to keep the disorder under control.
The approach to treating excessive sweating generally proceeds as follows:
- Over-the-counter antiperspirants containing a low dose of metal salt (usual aluminium) are usually tried first because they are readily available. Antiperspirants containing aluminium chloride (for example Certain Dri) may be more effective when other antiperspirants have failed.
- Prescription strength antiperspirants, which contain aluminium chloride hexahydrate.
- Iontophoresis, a device which passes ionized tap water through the skin using direct electricity.
- Oral medications, Anticholinergics reduce sweating.
- Botox (botulinum toxin)-A, has been approved in the U.S. by the FDA for treating excessive axillary (underarm) sweating.
- miraDry. This technique uses microwave energy to permanently kill sweat glands.
- Lasers. Lasers can target and kill the underarm sweat glands.
- Surgery. A procedure called thoracic sympathectomy may be considered as a last resort.
However, remember that hyperhidrosis can be easily managed, and it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life just the way you want to!