Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating)
Hyperhidrosis is a condition in which affected individuals sweat excessively, no matter how often they apply – and reapply – antiperspirant. Hyperhidrosis is a very common condition, affecting both men and women equally. To hide this embarrassing condition from others, individuals often resort to wearing dark clothes or changing multiple times each day. Hyperhidrosis can occur nearly anywhere on the body. Patients often complain about excessive underarm sweating, as this is especially noticeable. Hyperhidrosis can be treated in a number of different ways.
- Topical treatments that essentially clog the sweat glands may work in mild cases of hyperhidrosis, but are often associated with a stinging or burning sensation upon application.
- Pills for hyperhidrosis are effective, but are often not well tolerated due to common side effects such as dry eyes, dry mouth, flushing, headache, constipation and the inability to urinate.
- Mild to more moderate cases of hyperhidrosis may respond to Botox therapy, which entails the injection of a bacterial toxin via several needle sticks into each armpit. Possible drawbacks of Botox include that the treatments wear off with time and need to be repeated every 4-6 months. Botox is also not suitable for individuals with neuromuscular disorders such as myasthenia gravis.
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- Iontophoresis is another treatment option for hyperhidrosis that involves delivery an electrical current to the area of skin affected by hyperhidrosis. Unfortunately, iontophoresis is not suitable for all areas of the body and cannot be performed on the armpits.
- Laser liposuction can also be employed to reduce armpit sweating. It is an invasive, surgical procedure that destroys sweat glands from the heat and scar tissue generated from the procedure.
- The most invasive treatment option for hyperhidrosis of the armpits is a thoracic sympathectomy, which is an invasive surgical procedure that entails cutting the nerve fibers that transmit the signal for sweating. Besides the usual anesthesia risks and complications associated with surgery, the patient’s lungs have to be deflated one-by-one during the procedure to allow the surgeon access to the nerves. Although the procedure works well, patients not uncommonly develop a side effect called compensatory hyperhidrosis, which is excessive sweating elsewhere on the body or even excessive facial sweating when eating certain foods.