HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Some people break into a sweat even when it’s cold. It happens even when they’re in an airconditioned room, sitting down and not doing anything. Excessive sweating occurs so spontaneously for them, without any immediate cause.
If you identify with these scenarios, then you probably have hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by excessive sweating of the underarms, palms, and soles of the feet. It is rather common, affecting an estimated 2% to 3% of Americans.
For most people with this disorder, their problems start when they step into adolescence. If left untreated, excessive perspiration may continue for the rest of their lives. This condition has two distinct types: primary focal and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
If you have this condition, it means that your sweating problem isn’t caused by any medical condition or medication. Excessive sweating itself is the medical condition that needs to be treated.
In primary focal hyperhidrosis, sweating occurs in specific areas of the body called focal areas. They are usually symmetrical, meaning that both the left and right sides are affected.
Common focal areas include the hands, feet, underarms, and face. It usually happens on more than one area at least once a week. It can also be inherited among family members.
Although the exact cause is unknown, this condition seems to be related to overactive nerves that overstimulate your local sweat glands.
Unlike the first type, this one’s caused by an underlying medical condition or is a side effect of certain medications. People with secondary generalized hyperhidrosis experience perspiration in larger or more generalized parts of the body. Some people also experience this while sleeping, and generally starts during adulthood.
To treat this, your doctor should treat the root cause and do palliative measures to get rid of excessive sweating.
The perspiration that people with this sweating disorder experience is more severe than normal sweating. If you have this condition, you might sweat so much that it produces sweat marks in your clothes, soaks them, and even drips off your hands.
As a result, too much sweating can disrupt your usual activities and cause embarrassment, social anxiety, and lack of self-confidence. Studies show that too much sweating negatively affects the quality of life in pretty much the same way as other more prominent dermatological conditions, like psoriasis or severe acne.
Hyperhidrosis often affects your hands, feet, underarms, or face. It is experienced at least once a week during waking hours.
Make sure that you seek immediate medical attention if too much sweating is accompanied by nausea, lightheadedness, and chest pain, as these symptoms can point to a more serious underlying condition.
REASONS FOR EXCESSIVE SWEATING
The following factors may cause excessive perspiration:
Overactive Nerves, Stress, Medical Conditions, Premenstrual Syndrome, Menopause.
Overactive nerves in certain parts of your body are the primary culprit in hyperhidrosis, although the exact reason why they become overactive is unknown. Because of their increased activity, they tend to stimulate the sweat glands in a particular area in your body, causing primary focal hyperhidrosis.
Being in a stressful situation can cause you to break into a cold sweat. It can happen at work, school, social functions, and even in your daily life.
Stress triggers the release of cortisol in your body, which increases your heart rate and body temperature. To cool your body, you’ll experience sweating that can give you sweat marks on your clothes and even body odor.
Some endocrine, neurologic, and systemic diseases can cause secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Examples of such underlying conditions include gout, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and the presence of a tumor.
Similarly, some medications can also lead to heavy sweating. Withdrawal from opioids can produce such a reaction as well.
A lot of women experience extreme sweating during ovulation and right before their monthly period. That’s because of the increase in the hormone progesterone, which causes the body temperature to rise and even cause hot flashes.
It’s also normal for your body to have temperature fluctuations, so your body perspires to cope with sudden temperature changes.
Again, female hormones are responsible for the hot flashes and night sweats experience during menopause. Changing estrogen levels cause women in their perimenopausal to menopausal years to experience extreme sweating episodes.
Hot flashes can last for one to five minutes and are characterized by intense heat felt on the chest, neck, and head. It produces sweat on the face and across the body, leaving you drenched in sweat. Night sweats are pretty much the same as hot flashes, except they occur while sleeping.
DIAGNOSING EXCESSIVE PERSPIRATION
Unfortunately, people who suffer from excessive sweating seldom go to doctors to seek treatment. Many of them are ashamed of their condition and are simply not aware that it can be treated with proper guidance.
Once you go to your doctor, expect him to run some lab tests to see if there’s an underlying cause to your perspiration problem. Common culprits include an overactive thyroid and low blood sugar. You’ll also be asked about your medical history and symptoms.
You might also be given several sweat tests, which pinpoint the areas in your body that seat the most and evaluate how severe your perspiration is. Some of the sweat tests that you might encounter include the iodine starch test, thermoregulatory sweat test, and skin conductance test.
SIDE EFFECTS AND COMPLICATIONS
Sweating profusely makes you at risk for skin infections since your damp skin becomes a hospitable breeding ground for bacteria.
It also makes you more susceptible to body odor, especially if you sweat excessively in your armpits.
You might also lose your self-esteem—a common mental complication of sweating too much. Because you’re embarrassed about your condition, it can affect the way you deal with people and cause you to withdraw from society.
TREATING AND MANAGING EXCESSIVE SWEATING
Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with extreme perspiration. But take note that every person’s physiology differs, so what works for another person may not necessarily work for you.
Still, it’s best to give these methods a try to find out which one can help control your sweating.
Antiperspirants work by temporarily blocking your sweat glands, thus keeping your underarms dry.
You can check out ones found over the counter that contain low doses of aluminum chloride to stop your sweat glands temporarily.
If these don’t work, you may ask your doctor for prescription-strength antiperspirants that are more effective than the regular ones, as they contain aluminum chloride hexahydrate, a more potent sweat-blocking ingredient.
Remember that there’s a proper way to apply antiperspirants to take advantage of their optimal effects. For instance, it’s better to apply it at night before bedtime to give your skin enough time to absorb the ingredients. You might also want to keep your armpits clean and hair-free so that your antiperspirant gets maximum contact with your skin.
Practice good body hygiene
Bathing every day goes a long way! It can help you minimize the number of bacteria on your skin that leads to unwanted body odor. Plus, it’s refreshing to take a bath, especially during hot and humid weather. Make sure that you dry yourself thoroughly afterward to keep damp areas in check.
You should also wear cool and clean clothes with airy fabrics, like cotton, silk, and wool as they allow your skin to breathe. When exercising or doing sports activities, you should also moisture-wicking clothes to keep you dry.
Keep your stress levels low
You can try to combat pressure and stress using relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, listening to soothing music, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Do these during stressful situations to help calm yourself down.
Take oral drugs
Your doctor may also prescribe you with anticholinergic drugs if antiperspirants don’t work for your body sweat. Anticholinergics produce a drying effect as they block the chemical signals that tell your brain to start sweating.
Another common prescription is antidepressants, which help decrease the anxiety that leads to sweating.
However, take note that these drugs also come with their own set of risks, like blurred vision, dry mouth, and urinary retention.
Get Botox injections
Botox injections aren’t only used to eliminate wrinkles. They can also temporarily block nerves that cause sweating, making you sweat less for about 6-12 months.
Take note that Botox injections can cause temporary muscle weakness in the area treated.
Though several procedures can help curb excessive sweating, one of the most effective is miraDry.
miraDry is an FDA-cleared treatment that eliminates sweat glands in your underarms without needing surgery. It also targets your hair and odor glands, resulting in the elimination of underarm hair and less armpit odor.
It uses electromagnetic energy to destroy sweat glands in the underarms. One session is often enough to see long-lasting results, although some people may need two to three sessions to eradicate all the sweat glands in their armpits completely.
If you’re interested in getting miraDry treatments for your excessive sweating, schedule a Free Consultation with our double board-certified plastic surgeon here in Face+Body Cosmetic Surgery.