We look at the causes and treatments for clinically excessive sweating.
Sweating or perspiration is a normal and necessary human bodily function. The release of salty fluid from the body’s sweat glands is a vital mechanism that protects our bodies by regulating its internal temperature. Our bodies have about 2 to 4 million sweat glands. There are 2 types of sweat glands:
Eccrine sweat glands – these glands secrete an odourless, clear fluid that promotes heat loss through evaporation. They are found on the palms, soles, forehead and cheeks.
Apocrine seat glands – these glands act like straws to help sweat reach the skin surface in hairy areas, hence they are mainly found in places like the armpits and the genital region. The sweat produced by these glands are fatty and produces a potent odour when it comes in contact with bacteria on the skin’s surface.
Why Do Some People Have Excessive Sweating?
Excessive sweating is mostly associated with the eccrine glands that either overreact to stimuli or are just generally overactive. If you suffer from excessive sweating, it can have a negative impact on your daily life. You may find yourself constantly embarrassed and self-conscious about visible perspiration on your body or worrying about your clothes appearing wet or becoming discoloured from perspiration. It can be so severe that it can have a negative impact on your social and emotional wellbeing due to avoiding social situations that requires you to shake hands or speak in front of other people. Emotional problems, including depression, social isolation, and decreased confidence, can result. Any normal human function that is in excess to the degree that it impacts your daily functioning or wellbeing is considered a clinical condition. Excessive sweating is known clinically as hyperhidrosis and is more than just a cosmetic or hygiene issue. It afflicts millions of people around the world (approximately 3% of the population) but because of lack of awareness, a large proportion of these people are never diagnosed or treated for their symptoms.
There are 2 types of hyperhidrosis:
Hyperhidrosis that has no obvious cause is known as primary hyperhidrosis.
Although it’s not clear why it develops, it’s thought to be the result of a problem with part of the nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system, and it’s possible your genes may also play a role.
If a cause of hyperhidrosis can be identified, it’s known as secondary hyperhidrosis.
Secondary hyperhidrosis can have a number of different triggers, including:
low blood sugar
overactive thyroid gland
being drunk or “high” on drugs, or withdrawing from alcohol or drugs if you have become addicted to them
some infections, such as tuberculosis and HIV
disorders of the blood cells or bone marrow, such as Hodgkin lymphoma
Secondary hyperhidrosis often starts more suddenly than primary hyperhidrosis and tends to affect the whole body.
What treatments are available?
Hyperhidrosis can be challenging to treat and it may take a while to find the best treatment for you. Less invasive treatments will usually be recommended first.
Changing your lifestyle cannot cure primary hyperhidrosis, but it can improve your symptoms and help your confidence.
Avoid triggers that you know make your sweating worse, such as spicy foods and alcohol.
Use antiperspirant frequently, rather than deodorant.
Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothing and man-made fibres, such as nylon.
Wearing black or white clothing can minimise signs of sweating.
Armpit shields can absorb excessive sweat and protect your clothes.
Wear socks that absorb moisture, such as thick socks made of natural fibres, or special soles or sports socks designed to absorb moisture.
Avoid wearing socks made out of man-made materials and change your socks at least twice a day if possible.
Ideally wear shoes made of leather, and try to alternate between different pairs of shoes every day.
If a regular antiperspirant doesn’t control your sweating, your GP may prescribe or suggest a stronger one for you. Antiperspirant containing aluminium chloride is often used to treat hyperhidrosis. This works by plugging the sweat glands. You will need to apply it at night just before you go to sleep and wash it off in the morning.
You may be prescribed a type of medicine called an anticholinergic or antimuscarinic. These work by blocking the effects of a chemical called acetylcholine, which the nervous system uses to activate the sweat glands.
Surgery and other procedures
In a few cases where hyperhidrosis is particularly severe and treatment hasn’t been successful, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is only recommended for people with severe hyperhidrosis that hasn’t responded to other treatments. During surgery, the doctor may cut, scrape, or suction out the sweat glands.
You have probably heard of the medical aesthetic procedure called Botox. BOTOX is a prescription medicine that is injected into the facial muscles to reduce and smooth out frown lines and wrinkles. It works by preventing the muscles from contracting, hence diminishing undesirable facial wrinkles. BOTOX is also used for improving the facial contour such as relaxing the muscles of the jaw and giving the face a natural V-shape jawline. However, Botox injection is also a recognized hyperhidrosis treatment procedure – especially for underarm region.
When injected into the affected areas can control hyperhidrosis by temporarily blocking the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. When the sweat glands don’t receive chemical signals, the severe sweating stops in the treated area. The other areas of the body are not affected and continue to sweat as before. The effect is temporary and lasts about 6 – 8 months after which the treatment is needed again to maintain the effects.
At Beauty and Curves the procedure is performed by certified Doctors only. This procedure is invasive yet safe and comfortable. There is no downtime and patients can resume to their normal activities.
Around 15-20 injections are given in the affected areas of the body, such as the armpits, hands, feet or face. The procedure usually takes about 30-45 minutes in total.
The effect of the injections usually lasts for several months, after which time the treatment can be repeated if necessary.
Potential side effects of botulinum toxin injections include:
pain, redness or itching where the injections are given
nausea, headaches and hot flushes after the injections are given
another part of your body sweating more to make up for treated area – known as compensatory sweating
muscle weakness around the treatment area
Most of these side effects are short-lived or will resolve as the effect of the injections wears off. You can find out more about Botox and our other medical aesthetic procedures on of our website.
To book a consultation with us at Beauty and Curves you can contact us on (011)0287000 or (011)6157214. Alternatively, you can contact us via the contact form on our website.