Before we deal with the issue of debilitating sweating, we must know about this condition is called medically.
Excess sweating is called hyperhidrosis. It is defined as excessive sweating beyond what is normally required to maintain consistent body temperature.
Although hyperhidrosis can occur in a number of locations on the body, including the hand and feet, one of the most common areas of complaint is the underarm. Excessive sweating of the underarm is also referred to as “axillary hyperhidrosis”.
About 17 percent of the population said that they sweat too much from their underarms, which causes them psychological and/or relationship issues. This means that 1 in 5 adults are affected by excessive underarm sweat. The numbers are slightly less for the hands and feet sweating.
When questioned, these people have, on average, at least 10 sweat outbreaks per week or consider themselves as excessive sweaters all the time.
In a survey commissioned by the International Hyperhidrosis Society, found 88 percent of those diagnosed with hyperhidrosis had endured negative social reactions from others such as disgust or mockery.
For many, this condition is a daily struggle that causes anxiety at work, embarrassment in relationships and social settings, and avoidance of leisure activities.
The impact of hyperhidrosis on those who those who suffer from this condition is as severe as, or more severe than, other more commonly recognized dermatologic diseases, such as psoriasis and severe acne. Unfortunately, many people with excessive sweating suffer in isolation and silence because they are not aware that their condition is treatable.
Only 5 percent of people who feel they perspire a lot have seen a dermatologist about their condition.
When questioned, 96 percent of people suffering from excessive underarm sweat use some kind of treatment and sufferers who use treatment are still experiencing excessive underarm sweat on a regular basis.
• 71 percent are using at least regular antiperspirant.
• 40 percent use clinical-strength antiperspirant and 6 percent use prescription oral medication.
• 60 percent who are using treatments other than just regular antiperspirants are still experiencing excessive underarm sweat multiple times each day.
• 92 percent of sufferers tend to keep their arms to their sides or avoid raising their arms in an attempt to cover up their condition.
• 73 percent have thrown away stained clothes.
• 68 percent have brought an extra shirt or outfit to the office or a social event.
• 86 percent have tried to cover up their condition by apply antiperspirant multiple times a day, limiting physical contact with others, avoiding the purchase of clothes made out of certain fabrics or colors and throwing away stained clothing.
Underarm sweat is produced from eccrine glands, known commonly as sweat glands, located just below the surface of the skin. These glands work by secreting fluid to help cool the body.
For people with axillary hyperhidrosis, these sweat glands are overactive and frequently turn on when they should be at rest, producing much more sweat than is needed to cool the body.
There are not a lot of permanent treatments of hyperhidrosis available.
Topical preparations such as Drysol can be applied to the skin but may only help in very mild cases. These products contain aluminum chloride, which is present in many over-the-counter antiperspirants.
Oral forms of beta blockers such as propranolol may be used off-label on a daily basis. Another oral medication is glycopyrrolate, which is a better choice, is an anticholernigic. Glycopyrrolate is an old antiulcer medication that I have found clinically helpful in about 20 percent of my patients with hand, foot or axillary hyperhidrosis or a combination of all three areas.
Botox can be used but requires multiple treatments spaced out about four to five months apart in all affected areas, and it is cost-prohibitive over the long run. It may be a medically covered benefit for some patients with insurance, however, there may be a cap on the total amount of Botox that may be covered by the patient’s medical insurance.
The only FDA-approved treatment for hyperhidrosis on the market currently is called the miraDry procedure. At this time, the miraDry is only indicated for the axillary type of hyperhidrosis. This procedure improves sweat reduction without the use of harsh chemicals, toxins or surgery.
The miraDry procedure uses the only quick, noninvasive microwave technology cleared FDA and has proven to dramatically reduce underarm sweat and provide lasting results.
The procedure is performed in the dermatologist’s office. A small amount of anesthetic is placed under the skin, then the handpiece from the miraDry system is placed on the underarm skin and delivers a precisely controlled microwave energy to eliminate a majority of the sweat glands. The glands do not grow back once eliminated, resulting in a dramatic and lasting reduction of underarm sweat.
The treatment requires two sessions spaced out three months apart. Most patients that I have treated report a dramatic reduction of their sweat. In a recent clinical study, the average sweat reduction was 82 percent. Patients should see a reduction in sweat almost immediately after treatment.
For more information on the miraDry procedure, visit www.miraDry.com.
• Dr. Eugene Conte is part of Ahwatukee Skin & Laser, 4425 E. Agave Road, Suite 148. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.