Treatment for Hyperhidrosis


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Testing for Hyperhidrosis

There are various ways to tell if you suffer from hyperhidrosis, and it is important to conduct these tests in order to establish that you are physically suffering rather than experiencing a phobia of sweating. The tests allow your GP to find out first hand just how bad your sweating is.

  • Starch-iodine.  Starch is sprinkled over areas that you are concerned about while the temperature around you is increased.   The starch is then brushed over with iodine.  If the iodine solution turns a blue colour then you are experiencing a problem with excessive sweating. 
  • Paper.  Paper is used to cover the affected areas instead of starch, and the heavier they are once removed, the greater the amount of sweating in that area.  This test can show the level of sweating, and might indicate if you have a mild or severe case of hyperhidrosis. 

If you are seen to have hyperhidrosis it is likely that your GP will want to find out the cause, and so will take urine and blood tests to check your overall health and try to find out why this is happening.  If the diagnosis is primary hyperhidrosis then treatment options will be discussed with you. 

Risks

Most people who suffer from hyperhidrosis become very wary of social environments where their condition might be noticeable.  Sweating is seen within our society as something that is a bit dirty, although this is not necessarily the case.  Many people who suffer from hyperhidrosis find that they are low in confidence and self-esteem due to social stigma.  The condition can be a serious problem to your lifestyle and can quickly change the way that you live your life.

As well as the emotional trauma that can occur due to hyperhidrosis, there are certain conditions that can occur as a result of increased sweating.

  • Skin conditions can arise from excessive sweating.  These take the form of infections or inflammation as a consequence of prolonged moisture on the skin.  This can also result in chaffing from clothing that can be very painful.  Once this occurs it can be difficult to treat as more sweat only exasperates the problem.
  • Dehydration can occur when you suffer from hyperhidrosis, a lot of moisture is lost from the body through the sweat glands.  This can leave you feeling dizzy and weak.
  • Fungal infections, especially in the feet and groin areas, are a lot more likely to occur if you suffer from hyperhidrosis.  The continual warm, damp climate is a perfect condition for athlete’s foot, nail infections or other such problems.  These can be itchy and painful and once they have started they can be difficult to eliminate

What Treatment is available for Hyperhidrosis?

Primary Hyperhidrosis is notoriously difficult to treat unlike secondary hyperhidrosis which generally has a medical reason or cause.  There are varying lengths that you can go to in order to treat your primary hyperhidrosis, and there are some very successful products available both in pharmacies and on prescription.

Lifestyle changes for Hyperhidrosis

You can change certain things about your life to prevent excess sweating and reduce the visible effects of sweating.  Change won’t stop the sweating, but will make it easier for you to live with it.

  • Wear loose, natural clothing.  This is less likely to show up any sweat stains and can prevent chafing. 
  • Avoid high temperatures and spicy foods.  Some people find that spices can seriously increase the amount of sweat that they produce.    
  • Use high absorbent socks.  These can help to absorb sweat that otherwise would sit on the skin, promoting infections.   
  • Instead of using a deodorant, use an anti-perspirant.  The two products are different, deodorant used to mask the smell of any stale sweat, anti-perspirant preventing the sweat in the first place.
  • Use armpit sweat pads. 

Sweat pads

Sweat pads are available from all major pharmacies both on the high street and online, and cost around £10 for a two month supply. They attach adhesively to your clothes, staying in place under your arms so that any excess sweat can be quickly absorbed.  The sweat patches prevent any sweat stains from showing on your clothes and can help you to feel more confident about wearing colours or styles that otherwise you might shy away from.  Sweat pads can either be disposable or re-useable, the latter able to be washed and re-applied.  Which you use is completely your choice and there is little performance difference between the two.

Pros of Lifestyle change

Changing small aspects of your life ought not to be too hard to achieve, and is likely to cost very little.  There are no harmful side effects to lifestyle changes, and they can help you to feel more confident in social settings.  Products such as sweat pads aren’t particularly expensive and are widely available across the UK. 

Cons of Lifestyle change

Unfortunately changing small things about the way you live will not have an impact on the extent of your hyperhidrosis, and you may still find that you are worried about sweating too much.  It can also be very limiting, for example you might only wear certain clothes or buy leather shoes. Using items such as sweat pads can prove expensive over time, and might make you more aware of your sweating than previously. Sweat pads can also only help armpit sweating, other areas being too difficult to use such a product, so sweating of the palms, groin or face are unlikely to be affected by any changes that you might make to your life.  Although it might help you in some situations, lifestyle changes will not prevent you from sweating any more and are unlikely to completely cure any confidence knocks that you might have taken.

Antiperspirants

Antiperspirants are a good solution for your hyperhidrosis problem, and are widely used to help people who suffer with all degrees of sweat excess.  It is important to try normal antiperspirants first, not just deodorants which are different in nature altogether.  Deodorants cover up the smell of your sweat, whereas antiperspirants prevent the sweat in the first place.  Antiperspirants are sprayed onto the areas needed, generally under the arms, and then work by creating blockages in the sweat gland, preventing sweat from reaching the surface of the skin.

Stronger antiperspirants for Hyperhidrosis

Many people who suffer from hyperhidrosis find that normal antiperspirants aren’t effective against the sweating that they experience.  Your GP will be able to prescribe you a stronger form of antiperspirant that contains a higher dose of aluminium chloride. This substance helps to reduce the sweat glands size by blocking them, so preventing you from sweating as much.  These antiperspirants are mostly used over-night, applied to clean, dry skin before you sleep and then washed off in the morning. 

The most commonly known strong antiperspirants for use in instances of hyperhidrosis are Odaban, Driclor and Anhydrol Forte.  These are available on prescription or from your pharmacy, and work in similar ways to target sweating.  You can also buy antiperspirants for use for hyperhidrosis over the counter from pharmacies.  Products of this kind have been purpose made for people who suffer from excess of sweat, and to be safe for you to use yourself at home. You may also want to try PerspireX, Zeasorb Absorbent Powder and Magicool.

Pros of antiperspirants for hyperhidrosis

Using a stronger antiperspirant is a very safe way to reduce the amount of sweat that you produce, and often has very good results.  The system is unlikely to interfere with your lifestyle too much, and can mean that you gain confidence without having to worry about sweat patches.  It is unlikely that you will suffer any unwanted side effects, and if you do, as soon as you stop using the prescribed antiperspirant the symptoms will stop. 

Cons of antiperspirants for hyperhidrosis

Prescription antiperspirants are generally more expensive than over the counter deodorants, and this can add up over time.  Many people do find that when they first start to use a stronger antiperspirant they experience a stinging sensation.  Over time this is likely to lessen but some people might find that they have a reaction to the aluminium chloride, resulting in sore or inflamed skin.  If this occurs you are advised to stop using the antiperspirant immediately.  This is generally a rare reaction, although it is worth you bearing it in mind if you have sensitive skin.  Aluminum chloride can cause shaving to be painful, and so it ought not to be used for 24 hours before you wish to shave. 

Medication for Hyperhidrosis

There are some oral medications that you can try to help your sweating due to hyperhidrosis.  These tend to try to reduce the activity of the sweat glands but currently there are few that are used and they have not been greatly researched.  These drugs include glycopyrrolate and propantheline bromide.  Beta blockers can also be used to help combat anxiety stresses. 

Medications are rarely used for hyperhidrosis as they often result in unwanted side effects.  These can include

  • Nausea
  • Affected sight
  • Problems with excretion and urination
  • Dry mouth

Medication is still an option, and might work for you.  They will have to be discussed in depth with your GP and if you suffer from any other health problems it is unlikely that you will be able to try them.  Using medications to aid hyperhidrosis is still in the early phases and currently there are no real oral medications that you can routinely and reliably take to prevent hyperhidrosis. 

Iontophoresis for Hyperhidrosis

Iontophoresis is a very good treatment for sweating on the palms and feet, although cannot be used for underarm treatment due to the nature of the process.  You have to place your hands and feet into a bowl of water, or a damp towel held by the skin while a very slight electric charge is sent through the water.  This then blocks sweat glands with a medication, allowing your perspiration to lessen as a result.  Sometimes glycopyrronium bromide is added to the water to better conduct the electricity, believing that this can improve the treatments results, but normally just tap water is used. 

The iontophoresis process starts with the initial intensive treatments. After around 8 initial treatments you ought to start to see some results.  This is then reduced to a maintenance level, which you will need to continue with in order to keep your hyperhidrosis in check.


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