Ask DAA: Why Do I Sweat So Much, and What Can I Do About It?
The intricate details that allow our bodies to function well can be truly amazing, including our ability to sweat. Our bodies can automatically detect when we’re getting too warm, and they have a built-in way to quickly cool us down when that happens. But as vital as sweating is (especially during those “Hotlanta” summers), when it happens too often or too much, it can cause serious self-consciousness and social anxiety. While many people suffer silently, your excessive sweating may actually be a known and treatable medical condition known as hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis essentially means that your body sweats when it doesn’t need to. While the medical community is still discovering exactly what causes this to happen, we do know that the condition is not contagious and that it appears to have a genetic link. Most people with hyperhidrosis have excessive sweating in one or two specific areas, like the underarms, palms, feet, or head, so the symptoms could look different from one person to another, but it’s estimated that as much as 3% of the US population has the condition.
So here’s the good news for those with hyperhidrosis: there are several treatments which may be able to control your symptoms long-term. While not all of these treatments are currently used at DAA, we’re dedicated to providing our patients with the most effective options for their needs.
Our board-certified dermatologists may be able to recommend an over-the-counter topical antiperspirant or prescribe a stronger, more specialized antiperspirant. You can simply apply the product at home to the areas where you sweat excessively. It’s important to use the product as directed and to recognize the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. These antiperspirants can be limited by lack of efficacy or irritation.
- Botox® Injections
Most people know Botox® as the cosmetic facial injection which smooths wrinkles around and above the eyes, like the frown lines and crow’s feet. But when injected into specific areas like the underarm, the medication can block the signals that activate the sweat glands. Results tend to last around four to six months, at which time re-treatment is needed to restore dryness to your underarms.
- Oral Medications
For some patients, one option is an oral prescription which diminishes sweating. However, if you’re prescribed these medications, you should be cautious to use them exactly as directed, especially during the warmer months and if you do a lot of physical activity, like exercising or manual labor. Side effects tend to be dry eyes and dry mouth.
- miraDry® Underarm Sweat Reduction
While the treatments listed above are all temporary, the results of miraDry® are expected to be long lasting. During your procedure, electromagnetic energy is directed into the skin of your underarms. This energy targets and destroys the sweat glands, so they are no longer able to produce sweat or to regenerate. The number of treatments you’ll need (usually one or two) will depend on your specific case, but you can expect around an 80% reduction in your underarm sweat. Results may vary from person to person.
There are two surgical procedures which can be performed. During the procedure, a surgeon will either remove the sweat glands from your underarms or destroy the specific nerves which trigger your sweat glands. Although both procedures come with risk, the latter may cause lung collapse or worsening of sweating in other locations, possibly worse than the original problem – so it’s usually regarded as a last resort.
Whether you’ve already sought medical treatment for excessive underarm sweat or you’ve just been struggling through trying every product in the antiperspirant aisle for years, the constantly growing field of knowledge and new treatments, like miraDry®, mean you may now be able to get better results than ever before. To discuss your excessive sweating and the treatments that may help, schedule an appointment at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta (DAA). Or, for more helpful information about a variety of general and cosmetic dermatology topics, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.