Hyperhidrosis is the condition of excessive sweating. Although sweating is a normal body function intended to cool your body temperature when exposed to heat or activity, those suffering from hyperhidrosis experience an abnormal amount of perspiration frequently, suddenly, or for no apparent reason.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis:
- Primary (idiopathic) hyperhidrosis causes focused exceessive sweating in specific body areas.
- Secondary hyperhidrosis causes excessive sweating in various body areas and no particular location.
Primary hyperhidrosis conditions are classified in four categories, including axillary, palmar, plantar, and truncal hyperhidrosis.
Axillary hyperhidrosis is the most common form of hyperhidrosis and affects the underarm or armpit area.
Palmar hyperhidrosis affects the hands (palms). Palmar hyperhidrosis may cause avoidance of social situations where touching is appropriate, such as a handshake.
Plantar hyperhidrosis affects the feet. Patients suffering from plantar hyperhidrosis are more prone to foot odor and fungal infections, such as athlete's foot.
Truncal hyperhidrosis affects the trunk, or upper body, exclusive of the areas affected by axillary, palmar, or plantar hyperhidrosis. Truncal hyperhidrosis commonly affects the area between the breasts and the lower back or buttocks.
The cause of hyperhidrosis may include:
- A lesion that affects part of the sympathetic nervous system
- Abnormally large sweat glands
- Metabolic disorder
Hyperhidrosis is often a hereditary condition and can be triggered or exacerbated by anxiety or high temperatures.
Dermatologists often recommend trying topical agents that contain aluminum chloride, such as Drysol or Clinical Secret. If these don't work, or if they cause skin irritation, then FDA approved Botox injections can be used to reduce sweating in the underarms for about 6 months. The underarm region is pre-treated with a topical anesthetic. The treatment requires injecting a series of small volumes of Botox directly into the skin covering the anatomical area.
A research study published in the March 2008 Journal of Drugs in Dermatology compared Botox with topical aluminum chloride. 50 patients participated; 25 were given topical treatment and 25 were given Botox. The authors wrote, "at week 4, 92% of the subjects in the Botox group achieved treatment response compared with 33% of the subjects in the AC group."
Although the researchers concluded that Botox was "superior" to aluminum chloride, they also found that aluminum chloride was "effective and tolerated in 29% of patients," which is a considerable amount.
Suction curettage by an experienced hyperhidrosis specialist or endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is also an option, which is often very successful. ETS should be performed by board certified thoracic surgeons as it is a procedure requring experience in minimally invasive chest surgery.
Hyperhidrosis treatment products
- Drysol - a topical aluminum chloride treatment for hyperhidrosis
- Secret Clinical Strength - a topical anti-perspirant containing 20 percent Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly.
Sources: Hratch Karamanoukian, MD, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology
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