Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
What is Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating is normal and we all sweat in warm or hot conditions, but some people seem to sweat much more than others, even when not overheated.
A particular group presenting to Dermatologists are adolescents who suffer from excessive and uncontrolled sweating of the palms and soles. This can be so severe it causes problems holding a pen or even handling paper and can be very socially disabling. Sweating of the armpits is also a common problem, leading to unsightly and embarrassing staining of clothes.
WHAT CAUSES HYPERHIDROSIS?
There appears to be a problem with the heat-regulation centre in the brain which transmits signals to the sweat glands through the sympathetic nervous system. The tendency to this can be partly inherited, but in many cases the cause is not really known. Heat, stress, anxiety, caffeine, and spicy foods can make it worse.
How is Hyperhidrosis treated?
HH often improves naturally with age, but the symptoms are often severe enough to need treatment in the meantime. A variety of options are available. Mild symptoms will sometimes respond well to topical treatment with aluminium-containing solutions. These need to be used correctly to minimise the risk of causing excessive drying of the skin as a side effect. If this is not effective, tablets can sometimes to be helpful.
Another option is iontophoresis. This is a treatment where the hands are immersed in an electrically charged shallow basin of water. Treatments are for 20 minutes, two or three times a week, for four to six weeks and usually give very useful improvement in symptoms. If necessary, treatment can be continued less frequently longer term.
Botulinum toxin (Botox) can be an effective treatment for HH of the armpits, but Dr Tucker regrets he does not offer this treatment.