Are your hands (and feet) always drenched in sweat? It might be hyperhidrosis.
Imagine feeling too embarrassed to hold your girlfriend’s hand because your palms are too sweaty or imagine drenching the application form at an interview with sweat.
Sweating may not be a comfortable experience but it is normal and healthy. In fact, it is part of your body’s natural reaction to cool down from the heat. Sweating also helps your body get rid of toxins and it can prevent infections due to virus and bacteria as it has antimicrobial peptides.
However, for some people, sweating can have a negative impact on health that outweigh the benefits. This is because, excessive sweating can affect mental health and put physical health at risk.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that’s classified as abnormally excessive sweating which occurs at any time of the day. It is not related to the body’s exposure to high temperatures or vigorous activities such as exercise.
The action of sweating is triggered by the nervous system in your body. When your body temperature rises, your nerves are responsible for triggering the sweat glands. Besides rising temperatures, stress or nervousness can also lead to sweating, especially on your palms
However, for individuals with hyperhidrosis, the nerves that are responsible for triggering the sweat glands are overactive. The result is excessive sweating. Hyperhidrosis that is suspected to be related to your nervous system is classified as primary hyperhidrosis.
Secondary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, is usually linked to a medical condition that acts as a trigger such as menopause, anxiety, certain types of medication, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels).
The symptom of hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating and this usually occurs on your hands, feet, underarms, face or groin area. Typically, this happens once a week, during waking hours. Another common symptom is sweating on both sides of your body. For example, if you have hyperhidrosis on your palms, the symptoms will be presented on both hands.
The symptoms of hyperhidrosis can tremendously affect your quality of life. Pay a visit to your doctor especially it is affecting your daily life and you constantly sweat for no reason.
The good news is there are several treatment options currently available. These range from non-surgical to surgical treatments.
Non-surgical treatments include:
Antiperspirant – This special type of antiperspirant is available via prescription. This is usually the first line of treatment for hyperhidrosis. However, it may not be suitable for everyone as antiperspirants can cause skin and eye irritation. They are generally applied topically and are usually available as roll-ons.
Nerve-blocking medication – This form of medication is consumed orally. Nerve-blocking medication works by halting communication between certain nerves. Although this medication can be relatively effective for some, it does have adverse effects as it can cause dry mouth and bladder problems.
Botulinum toxin injections – Also commonly known as Botox, this form of treatment is popular not just to help smooth wrinkles. It can also help if you experience excessive sweating. The injection works by blocking the nerve that triggers your sweat glands. However, the effects of these injections are not permanent. They only last for about six months and treatment will then to be repeated.
At times, more than one type of non-surgical treatment may be prescribed or you may need to try a few different options before finding the most effective treatment one.
If non-surgical treatments do not provide relief, there are surgical options for you to consider. These include:
Sweat gland removal – If hyperhidrosis affects just one area of your body, your doctor might suggest this procedure. Sweat gland removal involves removing the sweat glands in the affected area.
Nerve surgery – If other treatments fail, nerve surgery may be a treatment option you would want to discuss with your doctor. During surgery, the surgeon with cut the nerve that is linked to the affected area. If this procedure is performed well, it can effectively end hyperhidrosis. However, there are also potential complications. For instance, symptoms of hyperhidrosis may then appear in another area of your body instead.
Aside from surgical treatments, there are also lifestyle changes and remedies you can take to improve your quality of life when living with hyperhidrosis:
- Wear natural clothing such as socks and shirts that are made out of natural materials such as 100% cotton or bamboo thread which allow your feet to breathe.
- Air your feet by slipping out of your shoes or switching to slippers every now and then.
- Bathe regularly and dry yourself well.
- There are also antiperspirants that are available over the counter. You can try this if you are experiencing mild hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis is a potentially treatable and manageable condition. There are many treatment options available so be sure to explore them if you are experiencing symptoms. Consult a health expert and do not allow hyperhidrosis to take control of your life and your future.
Cope well with help
Hyperhidrosis can affect your self-esteem and confidence. It could negatively impact your career or relationship with others as you might be constantly embarrassed or anxious about your symptoms. In some patients, this leads to depression. Speak to a psychologist if hyperhidrosis is causing you to feel miserable or hopeless.
Is it hyperhidrosis?
If you’re not too sure if your sweat patterns are symptoms of hyperhidrosis, run through the questions below. If your answer is ‘yes’ for more than one question, it is best to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
- Do you avoid physical contact with others, such as shaking their hands, because you are conscious about your sweating?
- Do you sweat so excessively that it interferes with your job? For example, you may not be able to hold onto a tool because the sweat makes your hands slippery or typing on the keyboard feels difficult due to sweaty hands.
- Do you have difficulty driving because your hands and/or feet are excessively sweaty?
- Have you became socially withdrawn and self-conscious?
- Do you avoid activities such as exercise, dancing or golf because you’re afraid that it’ll make your sweating worse?