Excessive perspiration

You’ve avoided wearing grey, kept cool and calm, and it’s not even that warm today. But there they are again—the dreaded sweat patches. You can’t escape them. You’re embarrassed and sick of always being so sweaty.

Excessive perspiration, or hyperhidrosis, is a medical condition. Sweat mainly acts as the body’s natural coolant. Glands in the dermis layer of skin open their ducts and produce beads of perspiration. Sweat on our hands can help slightly with grip—but if we sweat excessively due to nerves or illness, the clammy hands feel uncomfortable.

Sweat is typically caused by heat, exercise, stress, illness and even eating spicy food. The highest concentration of sweat glands are actually found on our palms and the soles of our feet. Body odour comes from the special sweat glands found in our armpits and groin. Excessive sweating, however, can be caused by extreme illness, hormonal changes, diabetes, and an overactive thyroid gland.

Skin infections can occur in hyperhidrosis sufferers too, since the skin is constantly wet. It’s estimated that the condition affects around 3% of people.

Given that some of the causes may be quite extreme, it is worth talking to your GP if you suffer from excessive perspiration.

Sometimes there is no known cause for hyperhidrosis. So managing the condition becomes important. Here’s how.

Weight loss

Obesity is one of the known potential causes of excessive sweating. So losing weight (if overweight) could help curb any profuse perspiration. This can be achieved through consistent exercise and a balanced diet. You should seek advice from your health care professional for more tips too.

Iontophoresis

If your sweating is a real concern for you, there are some mild procedures you can undertake to help rectify the situation. Iontophoresis involves passing a low-level electric current through your skin to reduce sweat glands. Drugs may also be administered this way to help halt, or minimise, sweating. Topical treatments like vitamins A and C can also be effectively delivered using iontophoresis.

The procedure sees patients place the affected area in water, or a solution containing drugs or vitamins. Mild electrical currents are administered through the water over 30 minutes until mild tingling is felt. It is claimed that over several sessions the treatment can help quell the sweat glands. People who are pregnant, have a pacemaker, arrhythmia, metal orthopaedic implants or epilepsy cannot be treated.

Botox injections

Botox injections reduce sweating by freezing, or blocking, the nerves that  control the sweat glands. Essentially, the glands temporarily stop working. Botox injections last anywhere from a few months to over a year, so this kind of treatment would be ongoing but is highly effective.

Antiperspirant

Using antiperspirants (as opposed to just deodorant) should be the first line of defence when it comes to fighting off excessive perspiration. Antiperspirants that contain aluminium chloride help block sweat glands, reducing the amount of sweat produced.

Anticholinergic medication

Anticholinergic medications are wide-ranging drugs used to treat a variety of conditions— including excessive sweat production. Drugs like sodium glycopyrrolate, which can also be administered via iontophoresis, work by helping to subdue the sympathetic nervous system, which controls our ‘fight or flight’ response.

While excessive sweating may be a source of embarrassment or discomfort, there are solutions out there that can help alleviate the condition. Speak to your GP for advice.

Category: Health

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Article by: Defence Health