Hyperhidrosis: When excessive sweating gets embarrassing
Even though sweating is a natural phenomenon, it can get embarrassing and problematic when you start sweating profusely without the normal stimuli like physical exertion, warm environment or as a coping mechanism in emotional situations.
If that is the case with you, chances are you are suffering from a medical condition called hyperhidrosis that affects 2 to 3 percent of the population.
William W. Huang, an assistant professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said that, commonly, there is no particular cause found, and this is called primary hyperhidrosis.
However, there is a subset of individuals with hyperhidrosis that is caused by other conditions such as medications, cancers, metabolic and hormonal imbalances, infections and nerve injury and these individuals have secondary hyperhidrosis.
Huang said that the sweating through a shirt or always having wet hands can lead to embarrassment and discomfort.
While providing some helpful tips to deal with the condition, Huang said that hyperhidrosis can be a problem through every season and sufferers should opt for breathable, natural fiber clothing and should wash clothes after a single use.
Sweat is essentially odorless, but body odor becomes a problem due to bacteria on the skin’s surface. Using an antibacterial soap is helpful and showers over baths are better for removing sweat and bacteria.
Avoiding certain foods such as fatty foods, oils, and strong smelling foods like garlic, onions, and curry that can seep through pores can help with body odor.
Reduce caffeine intake from coffee, teas and soft drinks because they can stimulate the sweat glands.
Stay hydrated, especially in the summer, because excessive sweating causes loss of water and electrolytes.
Seek medical attention. There are many medical treatments available that can often be life changing.
Huang said the first step is to use an over the counter or prescription strength antiperspirant that contains aluminum chloride compounds that help close off the sweat glands.
Oral medications such as anticholinergics block the primary signal (acetylcholine) that stimulates the sweat glands to make sweat.
In addition, he said, there are in-office procedures that can treat hyperhidrosis such as iontophoresis – a technique that uses water to conduct a mild electrical current through the skin’s surface – and injections of botulinum toxin type A.
Lastly, there are surgeries that can be performed called sympathectomies which are reserved for the most severe and treatment-resistant cases.
More recently a non-invasive procedure has been developed that uses microwave-based energy to destroy sweat glands.
Image: Getty Images