Due to the highly visible symptoms, sufferers of Hyperhidrosis can experience serious social isolation and feel embarrassment about their condition.
This is particularly so with younger teenage patients, who frankly already have enough to deal with. Hyperhidrosis normally presents itself in early teenage years which makes it even more psychologically impactful to the patient.
The condition can be an incredibly tough one to deal with, but we hope we can offer some valuable and viable treatment options in the links below.
What is Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweat)?
Hyperhidrosis is a disabling medical condition that affects the bodies’ sweating mechanism causing a severe over-reaction of the sympathetic nervous system and heavy, excessive perspiration. Put simply, Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating either all the time or at times when the body does not need to sweat.
There are two types of Hyperhidrosis, Primary and Secondary.
The medical profession do not fully understand the reasons or triggers for Hyperhidrosis occurring in patients, but Primary Hyperhidrosis is defined as over activity in the sympathetic nervous system, specifically, it is the Thoracic Sympathetic Ganglion Chain, which controls the release of Acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine (ACH) is an electrically charged neurotransmitter produced by the body that stimulates the gland, creating production of sweat. Hyperhidrosis patients experience an over-reaction of this process which results in excess sweating.
In easier terminology, in non-Hyperhidrosis sufferers, the brain sends signals to the nerves around the sweat glands which triggers the opening and secretion of sweat at time when it is needed only.
For example, if the body is hot it will sweat to cool itself down (this process is called Thermoregulation).
In the case of a patient who has Hyperhidrosis, these signals are sent continuously, and so sweat glands react constantly and at times when the body is not in need of sweat production for thermoregulation.
This sweating (hyperhidrosis) is uncontrollable and often constant and can be extremely distressing for the patient.
There are many treatments options that can be considered in the first instance, the most common being aluminum chloride-based antiperspirants. These products can be found in varying strengths and not all are capable of offering protection form excessive sweating and normally only beneficial for applications under the armpits. Although rare in pre-pubescent children, cases of Hyperhidrosis have been recorded in people as young as 5 years old.
The constant wetness can cause other skin conditions which are further aggravated by the sweating. This only adds to the misery and these conditions will require treatment separately from the main problem of Hyperhidrosis. It can feel like a vicious cycle of sweating and skin complaints caused by sweating.
Secondary Hyperhidrosis is caused by many factors including, obesity, poor diet, menopause, anxiety and stress. It is no less distressing but may be caused by lifestyle factors as opposed to genetic or physiological responses.
For this reason, the amount of treatment options and chances of successfully reducing excessive sweating is higher. There are foods (strong spices and herbs) and certain types of clothing (nylon and polyester) that if avoided, can reduce sweating in some patients. In truth, serious levels of hyperhidrosis, regardless of whether its primary or secondary hyperhidrosis, clothing and dietary changes alone will not help greatly.
Hyperhidrosis affects approximately 4% of the population, or around 2.5 million people in the UK, so it is in fact more common than most people believe. Patients tend to go to great lengths to hide their condition and there is a far wider section of the population who suffers with problematic sweat and / or odour, but do not necessarily have Hyperhidrosis.
If you had an honest and frank conversation with friends we feel certain that you would be surprised at how many of them suffer with sweat problems without you even knowing.
There is also a great deal of embarrassment surrounding Hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating: people tend to feel ashamed of the condition and have concerns that people feel they have poor personal hygiene, but this could not be further from the truth.
Most Hyperhidrosis patients will wash, shower and bathe frequently to remain and clean and dry as possible.
Hyperhidrosis can affect any area of the body, but some areas are affected more commonly than others. The most common would be hands and feet, closely followed by underarms, face and neck, groin and torso.
Axillae Hyperhidrosis – excessive underarm sweating
Palmer Hyperhidrosis – excessively sweating palms
Plantar Hyperhidrosis – excessively sweaty feet
Some less commonly affected areas include:
Cranial Hyperhidrosis – Excessive head sweating
Facial Hyperhidrosis – Excessive facial sweating
Torso Hyperhidrosis – Excessive bodily sweating (including the groin and buttocks).
The causes of Hyperhidrosis vary. They can be from genetic or hereditary sources, or caused by physiological triggers (weight, diet, hormonal changes for example) or psychological conditions such as anxiety or stress. Regardless of the cause, there is very little than can cure the condition, but thankfully there are products and treatments available that will at least control the problem. Many patients are lucky in that the severity of the condition reduces or even stops completely with age, but for others Hyperhidrosis is a lifelong battle.
In The First Instance
When symptoms are present, the first course of action is generally use of a topical high strength antiperspirant, such as Perspi Guard Maximum Strength Antiperspirant. There are several other products on the market with varying degrees of efficacy and suitability, but Perspi Guard is very well received by most and is available in several formats including spray, roll on and wipes. Most have been created with high percentages of active ingredients which can be abrasive to skin and therefore unusable for many.
Perspi Guard Maximum Strength has been formulated and engineered with significantly lower levels of active ingredients to provide a clinically proven level of protection that enables most users to only require application once or twice per week to maintain dryness. More frequent application may be required and this is fine. Perspi Guard can be used on the underarms, hands and even the feet but it is important to understand that antiperspirants and mainly intended for the underarms.
Thankfully, this is the easiest to apply, least expensive and invasive treatment option available to suffers and most will respond to topical applications. If you find that high strength antiperspirants do not control the sweating, then there are other options available. These treatment options are progressively more intensive and invasive but there are non-invasive treatments that will offer great results for hyperhidrosis patients.
At this point you should consult your GP or Healthcare professional for further advice. They will most likely refer you to a dermatologist for alternative treatment.
Facial Sweating and Sensitive Areas
If sweating profusely from the face, a product containing alcohol may not be suitable due to the sensitive nature of the skin and the proximity to the eyes. Care must be taken when applying antiperspirants to the face. Antiperspirant wipes can be very useful for controlling sweating in this area. In these cases of facial hyperhidrosis or for excessive sweating around the groin or buttocks, a milder version of antiperspirant could be beneficial.
Perspi Shield Antiperspirant and Deodorant wipes can be good for these areas and are designed for use on most sensitive skin types and in sensitive areas. You should check suitability of the product at first use. Iontophoresis (discussed in more detail below), can be very helpful for facial hyperhidrosis.
Excessive sweating from behind the hairline is amongst the most distressing forms of the condition, especially for women. Unfortunately there is very little in terms of treatments available as topical products cannot be applied to the scalp.
Hair follicles are non-conductive so do not respond well to iontophoresis and topical products can damage hair and leave it dry and brittle. A Dermatologist can prescribe an oral medication for cranial sweating called Glycopyrrolate Bromide. The brand name for this is Robinul but your doctor will advise you further.
Please do not be tempted to order drugs from the internet for this condition. These are strong prescription medications and should not be taken without professional advice.
Iontophoresis for Hyperhidrosis
Should an antiperspirant treatment not be suitable for you then there are several other treatment options available. Drawing on many years’ experience within this area, our recommendation would be to explore a treatment called Iontophoresis.
It is an increasingly common treatment option used with excellent results in hospitals, clinics and at home. Iontophoresis involves passing regulated and controlled mild electrical current into the body in the area that one is suffering with Hyperhidrosis.
Over the course a few short treatments using only tap water, the sweating in the area stops. This treatment option has been around for decades and it extremely popular in Europe and over recent years has gained traction in UK NHS hospitals, fast becoming the preferred option for Hyperhidrosis treatment. Results can vary from patient to patient but in general results from the treatment are excellent and last several weeks before a single 15 minute ‘top up’ treatment is required. Success rate for Palmer and Plantar Hyperhidrosis patients are in the high 98% area.
There are several high-quality manufacturers on the market such as Hidrex and Idromed from Dr Hoenle. These manufacturers provided high quality machines that are certified and CE marked. This is important as there are overseas producers who are selling illegal units cheap. These can be dangerous and are not tested or legal to use in the UK or the EU. For more information regarding iontophoresis treatments for Hyperhidrosis, please see: www.iontocentre.com
If the non-invasive options mentioned above do not work then you can move your treatment plan on to try alternative products and medications.
Your GP or Dermatologist will advise you further on the range of prescribed medications you can use to control Hyperhidrosis. There are some very effective treatment options available, so it is important to not to lose hope of ending your excessive sweating. Some medications can be used in conjunction with Iontophoresis. A major drawback of oral medications for Hyperhidrosis is that there can be systemic effects. This is where you take a medicine to stop your sweating, but you also encounter dry mouth and eyes for example.
Iontophoresis can position medications where needed without systemic effects.
Botox is also an effective method of treatment particularly in the underarm region, but also for the palms and the feet. There is a cost issue involved with Botox treatments and patients may require several treatments per year.
Most NHS clinics do not have the budget capacity to offer Botox but there are private clinics who will offer treatment courses if you are willing to pay. A high-quality advanced iontophoresis machine will cost around £550 and last for 15+years and equates to about 6 months of injections so there is a big price difference in these treatments.
Medical procedures such as ETS surgery can cure palmer hyperhidrosis, but many people are hesitant to undergo this possibly risky and serious operation, preferring to control the condition instead using non-invasive measures.
A possible side effect of ETS surgery is compensatory sweating elsewhere on the body, for example the surgical procedure halts sweating of the palms but can cause excessive sweating on the chest or groin or face. Again, you doctor will advise you on this.
There have been many reported cases of patients who undergo this surgical procedure with great results initially only to find that sweating appears elsewhere on the body.
Although Hyperhidrosis is a distressing and uncomfortable condition and at times can feel like its dominating your life, its important to know there are options out there and there will be a product, treatment or medication that will offer relief.
None of this information should be taken as medical advice. This information is collated from various sources and is not intended to diagnose any medical condition and in no way substitutes professional medical advice. We always recommend you speak to your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your situation. Topical and over the counter antiperspirants and iontophoresis do not require medical advice and can be self administered.