Hyperhidrosis: How to Know, What to Do
The first of the hardships of hyperhidrosis is not knowing whether you have it. Excessive sweating can be seen as just an anomaly, or a family trait, or a temporary reaction. The second hardship is determining what to do about it. We’d like to help.
Arriving at your downtown Atlanta office after a muggy March MARTA ride, wearing a business suit, and looking a little “spritzed,” can be perfectly normal. Even arriving in a golf shirt in the same condition could be normal, too – if it’s summertime. But what about embarrassing sweat stains at a wedding reception? Or lank hair and beads of perspiration at a major presentation in an air-conditioned Buckhead high-rise?
Even knowing that there is a named medical condition for this, hyperhidrosis, can be the start of identifying it and finding an answer. The consensus is this. If your way of perspiring causes limitations in your work or social relationships or your choice of leisure activities; if you feel embarrassed about it or it makes you feel anxious, then it makes sense to seek a professional assessment.
It’s estimated that 10 million people in the U.S. suffer from hyperhidrosis; men and women are affected at about equal rates. The condition is first noticed at the ages of 14 to 25 in most cases. The impact is clear, too. A 2016 study reported that 85% of sufferers found the condition embarrassing, and 71% said it makes them feel anxious. The effect on a person’s whole outlook is something to take seriously.
It’s Not Just About Armpits
Hyperhidrosis can show up seemingly anywhere or everywhere on the body. Hands that perspire so much that occasionally they drip are a symptom for some people. The face and even the feet are frequently involved, and the sweating occurs on both sides of the body.
When hyperhidrosis is particularly focused under the arms, it is called primary axillary hyperhidrosis. The results can range from pit stains to drenched shirts or even show up on the trousers.
Seeking the Solution
Finding the treatment that’s right for you may start with lab tests of blood or urine to see if the sweating might be prompted by an overactive thyroid, low blood sugar, or some other medical condition. If an underlying medical condition is identified, then the first priority is to treat that cause. If not, then relieving the symptoms is the course, and that may involve tests of the perspiration itself, which may include an iodine starch test, skin conductance assessment, or a thermoregulatory sweat test.
There are several available treatments, and they offer a graduated response, ranging from prescription antiperspirants or creams, to nerve-blocking medications or Botox injections. Surgery can also be considered in severe cases, when response to less-invasive treatments is not satisfactory.
The important things to know are 1) you are not alone, and 2) your skin care professionals are not without answers. Here at Dermatology Consultants, we have the qualifications to help, and we are glad to open the door to the answer that’s right for you. Just contact one of our three locations to get started.