Sweating is necessary to control body temperature during times of exercise and in warm/hot surroundings, and is a normal response to a rise in temperature or anxiety. Sweating is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system. In about 1% of the population, this system is revved-up and works at a very high level, causing sweating to occur at inappropriate times, far in excess of the amount necessary to maintain normal body temperature. It can occur in many different areas of the body, and the condition is known as Hyperhidrosis, which means ‘excessive sweating’. It affects both sexes equally, and all races.
Hyperhidrosis is not a temporary condition. Many people who suffer from it have suffered for many years, often from childhood or sometimes from adolescence. Hot or cold, the sweating is constant, and the impact of hyperhidrosis can be severe. Wetness and staining of clothes, clammy hands and sodden smelly shoes, inability to grip objects such as pens, cold and wet handshake, damage to keyboards and difficulty dealing with paper and metals, can make a miserable existence. You may constantly worry about changing clothes, freshening up, using absorbent pads or sticking with loose black or white clothes, and may avoid making friends or interacting with people at work. Patients report that they are even embarrassed to hold the hands of those they love.
What effects does it have?
Excess sweating can occur at inappropriate times in many different areas of the body, and as well as being embarrassing, can cause a number of related problems for sufferers, such as:
ruining clothes and shoes,
causing body odour,
instigating social anxiety,
irritating, painful skin complaints.
Is it a permanent condition?
Hyperhidrosis does not occur temporarily. According to the Hyperhidrosis Support Group, it affects around 1% of the population, and those who do suffer from the condition experience it for many years, often from childhood. Affecting men and women, hyperhidrosis can be a debilitating condition, but sufferers should know that there are steps that they can take to reduce and even eradicate the problem.
What can be done about it?
There are a number of things that can be done to try to address the symptoms of hyperhidrosis. Some of these are preventative measures that seek to reduce or manage the symptoms, while others are more permanent and seek to cure the condition completely.
Anti Perspirants-Most people when confronted with unwanted perspiration tend to use antiperspirants. An antiperspirant is an astringent which works by decreasing sweat secretion, and for normal amounts of perspiration these tend to work quite well. For the treatment of hyperhidrosis however, it’s best to use an antiperspirant which contains aluminium chloride, which is an aluminium-based salt that reduces the amount of sweat on the skin’s surface, whilst preventing the growth of odour-producing bacteria. Your GP can prescribe a number of products that can be applied to the skin to prevent sweating. Unfortunately, they can be irritating to the skin and it is important they are used correctly.
In addition to using antiperspirants, sufferers of hyperhidrosis should also be sure that they wear loose-fitting, natural fabrics, and that they avoid things that may trigger their condition such as alcohol, spicy food and hot or caffeinated drinks.
There are a number of different medications that can be prescribed by a doctor which can be helpful. Anti-cholinergics, beta-blockers, antihypertensives and anxiolytics may be used to treatment hyperhidrosis, but many come with uncomfortable side-effects so it’s best to speak to your GP about whether any of these might be right for you.
Botulinum Toxin Injections
If treatments prescribed by your GP for hyperhidrosis don’t work, then botulinum toxin injections can be considered as the next step.
Botulinum toxin is injected into the affected area, and works by blocking the nerves that supply the sweat glands, stopping them from producing sweat.
Botulinum toxin injections work well as a safe and effective treatment, with minimal side effects, but top-up treatments are usually required after about four to six months. Unfortunately is is not easily available on the NHS. Before seeking treatment with botulinum toxin, make sure you have had a proper diagnosis from your GP and perhaps tried other options available on The NHS.
Treatment costs £400. You will return to the clinic at week 2 where an iodine test patch will be carried out and any areas that have not taken to the treatment will be topped up. Treatment is very successful and patients will generally expect around 4-7 months . A full treatment is required again. We cannot guarantee results of patients and results vary.