Excess sweating (also known as hyperhidrosis) is said to affect 3% of the population. Those unlucky enough to be affected are often constantly aware of their symptoms, and this can significantly inhibit them in their personal and professional lives. In fact, part of the consultation process I go through when seeing patients with hyperhidrosis consists of asking them to complete a Dermatology Life Quality Index assessment, which is an aid to determining just how much of an effect the condition is having on a person’s day to day activities.
Despite popular belief, the condition is not just limited to the underarm area – other commonly affected areas include the palms, the feet, the groin, the face, the scalp and even the area underneath the breasts. But what are the options?
Well, for those who find regular antiperspirants just not strong enough, there are specialist spray or roll-on products available over-the-counter, which contain aluminium chloride salts, for example Driclor and Triple Dry. However, these can irritate the skin, or still may not be strong enough, which means that they’re not suitable for everyone. Your family doctor can also prescribe medicated antiperspirants, or oral medication, and obviously it’s worth exploring these options at an early stage.
If none of the above have worked, a further option is to undergo Botox injections to the area, a procedure I have administered on many occasions. Botox blocks the transmission of nerve impulses to the sweat glands, and this eliminates the production of sweat in the treated area. This is an effective and licensed treatment for axillae (armpit) sweating. Treatment typically works within a few days and can give relief for 7-9 months (even longer on occasions).
There are several other treatment options and I would always encourage any patient to find out about all potential treatments before coming to a decision. I strongly recommend patients take a look at the International Hyperhidrosis Society website. This is a non-profit organisation which has a wealth of resources on hyperhidrosis. Because excess sweating often starts in childhood they have even created an award winning web site just for teenagers – take a look here.
So if you or a friend or family member have this debilatating condition don’t despair, as there are solutions available. And as ever, initial consultations with me to discuss treatment options are available and without obligation.
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