Sweating is a normal biological function of our body. Our perspiration is the response of the brain through the sympathetic nervous system to a sudden spurt in our body temperatures owing to various reasons like exposure to the sun physical exercise or tension. Sweating keeps our bodies cool maintains salt levels and most importantly helps remove certain toxins from the body.
Sometimes however some people suffer from the problem of excessive perspiration when the amount of sweat lost exceeds the level of what is actually required by the system to perform the abovementioned duties. The medical term for this condition of excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis which is a clinical disorder leading to the production of abnormal amounts of sweat by the sweat glands. It impairs the normal course of your life in two ways by producing intolerable body odor and by causing large amounts of visible sweat to gather in conspicuous locations on your body which are impossible to hide.
Now we all know what kinds of social embarrassments are caused by excessive underarm perspiration. It is awkward it is uncomfortable and it distinguishes you to the point of social isolation. The problem of excessive perspiration generally begins during puberty considerably affecting the self-esteem and social interactions of young people. But it should not be the cause of your worry any more. Recent developments in the field of dermatology have opened the door for a number of safe and effective treatments to end this painful predicament.
Combat excessive sweating
If you feel that you are suffering from hyperhidrosis there is no logic in suffering throughout your life without availing the benefits of numerous advanced ways of handling the problem. The escape route may take either of these two forms: prevention or treatment. Which of the two paths is most appropriate for you depends on the intensity of your problem. According to severity this disorder can be divided into three main categories: mild hyperhidrosis persistent hyperhidrosis and acute hyperhidrosis.
If you feel you might have mild hyperhidrosis go for prevention.
• Try to avoid direct exposure to the sun
• Take a shower every day rinsing and thoroughly cleaning the underarms
• Try wearing washed cotton clothes every day
• Find yourself a good antiperspirant or a deodorant. Although antiperspirants and deodorants are often used as interchangeable terms they are not at all the same. While deodorants work to hide underarm odor by retarding bacterial growth antiperspirants actually reduce the volume of sweat produced by the sweat glands most effectively in the underarms
• Spray on a talcum powder or medicated powder to slow down bacterial growth
• If you prefer a natural lifestyle create your own deodorant by mixing some amount of cornstarch powder and baking powder. For a mild scent add to it a few drops of essential oil. This mixture is a natural way of making sweat evaporate quicker
Treatments for persistent and acute hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis in this stage can be treated in several ways.
The first stage of treating hyperhidrosis involves the use of topical antiperspirants. Standard antiperspirants are made with several ingredients including wax a liquid emollient and an active ingredient compound possessing sweat-blocking power. All antiperspirants have aluminum-based compounds as their active ingredients. In fact the chief ingredients of topical antiperspirants are a variety of aluminum salts like aluminum chloride. These aluminum contents work on the sweat glands and prevent them from secreting sweat.
Those who perspire excessively need antiperspirants with an aluminum concentration of 10%-15%. People with more severe disorders need prescription antiperspirants which may contain aluminum chloride of up to 20% concentration. These are so strong that they cannot be sold without a doctor’s prescription.
The strongest antiperspirants are generally applied at night. They are effective instruments to deal with the problem of excessive underarm sweating though reports of local irritations from some users are not uncommon.
Botulinum toxin (Botox)
This is the latest development in the treatment of hyperhidrosis. It is an FDA-approved advanced therapy involving neurotoxin injections specially innovated to treat underarm hyperhidrosis though it can also be applied to treat excessive sweating of the palms and feet.
Botulinum toxin which is better known by its brand name Botox has long been a method to cosmetically remove wrinkles from the skin. Recent studies have successfully used Botox in the treatment of excessive underarm sweating. Typically Botox temporarily prevents the secretion of acetylcholine by hindering the process by which the nerves instruct the glands to sweat. By administering 12–14 Botox injections in the underarm area the nerves are stopped from stimulating the sweat glands.
Depending on the patient’s system the benefit from the injections lasts for six-10 months or 200 days. However the process needs to be repeated when the patient’s hyperhidrosis shows signs of reappearing. In test conditions nearly 85 percent of patients were reported to achieve a far lesser degree of perspiration in the injected areas. With the exception of a little bleeding in the injected areas this treatment is extremely safe and more effective than the older therapies. However it is expensive not suitable for pregnant and nursing mothers and must be repeated for a patient’s lifetime.
In some cases oral anticholinergic medicines are prescribed to cut down on the functions of acetylcholine and prevent the stimulation of sweat glands. However these medicines may lead to some undesirable side effects so they are prescribed only after thoroughly taking the patient’s overall health into consideration.
This is a therapy that involves the weakening of the nerves by passing a low electrical current through the surface of the skin to reduce sweat gland stimulation with an iontophoresis machine. This treatment has been practiced for more than 50 years though its application to treat underarm sweating is a relatively recent development.
In this technique you have to immerse your hands completely in water through which a low voltage electric current is passed. The process which lasts for 10 to 20 minutes temporarily blocks the glands in the sweat-prone areas of the body. The severity of the hyperhidrosis seems to diminish after 5–10 sessions. After that patients are invited for one or two sessions per week to prevent the symptoms from recurring.
Though a number of patients who have opted for iontophoresis have reported that they are satisfied with the treatment it needs to be repeated frequently and may lead to dry and irritated skin. Moreover cardiac patients with pacemakers patients with orthopedic implants or pregnant women are not qualified to receive this treatment.
Surgery is recommended for the most severe cases of hyperhidrosis. Because of the risk factors involved this course is advisable only after thoroughly examining a patient’s medical history. The surgical procedure involves the removal of the connection between the sympathetic nerves and the sweat glands. Two types of surgery are performed to treat hyperhidrosis: sweat gland resection and endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS).
The first category or resection involves the removal of sweat glands altogether. ETS is the process of removing the nerves that send the chemical messages to the sweat glands.
At one point of time ETS was treated as a major operation. But today it is performed very quickly and is minimally invasive with a brief recovery period. Most people who have undergone surgery have reported a complete elimination of hyperhidrosis in the concerned area but many have had to endure compensatory sweating in other areas.
In many cases excessive sweating may indicate a larger physical or mental disorder but in most cases it is simply annoying without posing a serious threat to your overall health. In either case in the face of amazing advancement of research one should always explore options to reduce underarm sweating.