What Is Hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating. It affects up to 4% of the entire population, but not all patients ask for medical advice. Excessive sweating is not necessarily dangerous, but it can have a devastating psychological impact. The social life of the sufferer can be impacted and performing even the simplest tasks can become challenging. Excessive sweating leads to embarrassment and frustration. Fortunately, it is not a lifelong condition and it can be solved with appropriate treatment.
Causes of Hyperhidrosis
In some cases the causes of hyperhidrosis can remain unknown. However, some factors have been linked with the occurrence of excessive sweating:
- Genetic predispositions.
- Anxiety disorder or irritability.
- Malfunctioning of the spinal cord.
- Unhealthy eating habits and consumption of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine on a regular basis.
- Increased body weight or obesity.
- Underlying medical conditions like autoimmune disorders, thyroid problems diabetes.
- Allergic reactions to foods.
Classification of Hyperhidrosis
From the medical point of view, there are two forms of hyperhidrosis: focal and generalized hyperhidrosis.
- Focal hyperhidrosis – it is also known as primary hyperhidrosis. It is characterized by the fact that excessive sweating only occurs in certain body parts. These are usually the armpits, the hands, the feet or the face. Medical specialists believe that it is caused by a malfunctioning of the nervous system which sends mixed signals to the sweat glands and over stimulates them.
- Generalized hyperhidrosis – it is called secondary hyperhidrosis because it occurs as a result of another medical condition (diabetes, neurological problems, hormonal imbalances, etc). This hyperhidrosis form affects the entire body.
Possible Solutions for Hyperhidrosis
- Improve your diet. This refers to the fact that you should not consume anymore of those foods that are likely to cause excessive sweating. It seems that spicy foods, beef, garlic and curry are triggering this reaction in most of the people. It is also believed that trans fats are related with excessive perspiration. Generally speaking, there aren’t any foods that can reduce hyperhidrosis, but it is best to avoid those mentioned above and also highly processed foods.
- Increase water intake. Six up to eight glasses of water are recommended daily. It is important to consume this amount because water intake regulates body temperatures and flushes away toxins. Establishing a workout routine is the ideal case, but if you don’t manage to do so, don’t forget about the water. It will make your body cooler.
- Avoid tight clothes. Loose clothes will allow the air to circulate and to cool the skin. This is very important, especially in what concerns the armpit area. In the absence of proper ventilation, the body will heat faster and will produce more sweat. Tight clothes will cause discomfort and thus even more sweating.
- Learn how to cope with stressful situations. Many people have the tendency to sweat more when they are exposed to stress or when they find themselves in tensed situations. Relaxation techniques and positive thinking might help in managing such situations more effectively.
Drugs and Medical Procedures
- Over the counter antiperspirants – this is the first treatment options in all hyperhidrosis cases. Doctors usually recommend clinical strength antiperspirants for being applied on the most problematic areas. The most effective products include Secret Clinical Strength, 5 Day, Certain Dri and Degree Clinical Protection.
- Prescription antiperspirants – these are usually recommended when over the counter ones don’t work. They contain aluminum chloride and they have to be applied on the skin in the evening. It is important to clean the skin after approximately eight hours because prescription antiperspirants can have side effects like irritated skin, swelling or itchiness.
- Iontophoresis – this is a medical procedure involving low electric charges targeted towards the areas affected by excessive sweating. It is done using a device supplied with electricity and water saturated wool pads which conduct the electric impulses. The purpose of iontophoresis is to modify the structure of the skin so that it doesn’t allow the sweat to come out anymore. Although there are not known safe effects, the efficiency of Iontophoresis is still under debate.
- Oral medication – excessive sweating can sometimes be reduced by anticholrigenics administration. These impair the nervous activity and prevent nerves from sending signals to sweat glands. Sweat can be inhibited with carbonic anhydrase inhibitors and the activity of the nerves can be decreases with clonidine.
- Botox injections – injecting botox in the nerves that control the sweat glands will temporarily “paralyze” them. Up to twenty injections containing a small botox amount might be needed. Doctors first run some tests in order to determine exactly where the botulinum toxin should go. In order to minimize the pain that sufferers might feel during the procedure, local anesthesia can be used. The area can be numbed by taking oral anesthetics, intravenous ones or by applying local creams.
- Surgery – this option is normally reserved for persons who experience severe hyperhidrosis and who have failed in controlling it with any other method. There are two ways of surgically solving the problem of excessive sweating. One involves “cutting off” the connection between the sweat glands and the nerves that send them signals and the other one implies taking out some sweat glands. The first option prevents hyperhidrosis because, even though the sweat glands remain in their place, they don’t receive any nervous impulses anymore and they are inactive. The sympathetic nerve can be either clipped or partially removed. A newer procedure called sympathotomy can also be used. It implies cutting off nervous impulses without taking out the nerve. This newer procedure is considered safer because the risk of excessively sweating in other body parts is reduced. Regardless of the type of procedure that is performed, surgery is serious and potentially risk. It is important to discuss all the possibilities with a good medical professional.
Natural and Herbal Remedies
- Sage – it is also known as Savia Officinalis and it belongs to the Lamiaceae family, just like mint. It has numerous medical properties including the ability to fight bacterial or fungal infections and the ability to reduce blood sugar. It is also an anhidrotic, a toner and an antispasmodic agent. It is believed that sage can keep the sweat function of the body under control.
- Chinese Peony root or white peony root – it is an herb belonging to the Paeoniaceae family and it is useful in spontaneous and night sweating. In the first case it should be used together with cinnamon, while for night sweating it is best to have it accompanied by oysters or arborvitae seeds.
- Astralagus – this herb belonging to the Fabaceae family can either increase or decrease the sweat production, as needed. Herbalists recommend it in patients with spleen deficiency for ameliorating the symptoms (including excessive sweating) and also in lung disease for its tonic effect.
- Acidic foods – including them in the diet seems to decrease excessive sweating. Up to six ounces of tomato juice can be consumed prior to each meal. Taking a mixture made of two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and the equal amount of honey is also beneficial. This is best to be taken first thing in the morning.
Generally speaking, the first thought that comes to people’s mind when experiencing hyperhidrosis is to buy antiperspirants. These are available in different strengths and they are all based on the same ingredient: aluminum chloride. Antiperspirants should not be mistaken by deodorants. The last ones don’t interfere with sweat production in any way, but only smell nicely.
Since it is the main ingredient in antiperspirants, it has high chances of working in people with hyperhidrosis. 20% aluminum solution should be applied on the affected area once this is carefully cleaned and dried. It should be kept there overnight by wrapping the skin in plastic and securing it with tape. The concentration of the solution should be gradually decreased until it reaches 1%. At that point, using it only once a week should be enough. Aluminum chloride works because it blocks the sweat glands. It should not be used on recently shaved or irritated skin.