It is normal to sweat during summers. But some people tend to sweat much more than average not only in summers but even during cold weather, and this can be very problematic.
Today, we’re going to discuss about Hyperhydrosis. Excessive sweating, in scientific terms is called Hyperhydrosis. We’re going to discuss its causes, medical treatment and finally, what are the home remedies available for hyperhydrosis. So, lets start.
Sweating is usually good for our body. For example, if our body is at a higher temperature than normal, the excess heat is released through releasing water from the body (in the form of sweat). And not only that, waste materials such as urea, ammonia are also excreted through sweat. So, if a person is not sweating normally, he/she has a high risk of suffering from Heat stroke.
But if someone sweats excessively, it becomes a cause of social embarrassment for them. Sometimes, due to excessive sweating, people cannot shake hands with others in public ; children face problems while writing in the examination ; or if there is excessive sweating from the axilla (armpit), the clothes tend to stain and smell bad.
What causes excessive sweating?
In medicine, we classify Hyperhydrosis into two types, Primary hyperhydrosis and secondary hyperhydrosis, both of which are explained below.
1. Primary hyperhydrosis
In primary hyperhydrosis, there is excessive sweating without any cause. Normally, we sweat excessively when we do exercise or if we have fever. But in primary hyperhydrosis, the person will start sweating even when they are just sitting. This mainly affects the palms, soles of the feet, the underarms, or even the face, but not the entire body.
Now, why does this happen. There are sweat glands present all over out body and there are nerve supplying these sweat glands. In primary hyperhydrosis, these nerves in the affected areas are overactive, that is, our body sends more signals to these nerves, which causes excess release of sweat from the sweat glands in these areas.
In most people Primary hyperhydrosis is seen, which means sweating without any cause.
2. Secondary hyperhydrosis
The second type is called Seconday hyperhydrosis. In this type, due to some disease (secondary cause), there is excessive sweating from our body.
Now, the diseases that can cause excessive sweating are as follows :-
- Thyroid disease – Hyperthyroidism can cause excessive sweating
- Gout – excess uric acid in our body causes gout
- Cancer – for example Hodgkin’s lymphpoma causes excess sweating
The first thing to do if you suspect a case of hyperhydrosis is to consult a dermatologist, who will be able to differentiate if it’s a case of primary or secondary hyperhydrosis.
There are some normal tests that are done to find if there is any secondary disease causing the excessive sweating, such as Thyroid tests or Uric acid tests or blood tests.
If no cause is found, it is diagnosed as a case of primary hyperhydrosis. One way to confirm it is by the Iodine Starch test, which will be done by the doctor.
In medical science, there are various ways of treating hyperhydrosis. Your doctor will have to examine you to determine the best possible treatment for your case.
Treatment generally includes :-
- Anti-perspirant containing Aluminum Hydrochloride, in 10-20% concentration – The aluminum in aluminum hydrochloride replaces the sodium ions in sweat and reduces sweating. These are available as roll on and ointments.
- Iontophoresis therapy – The hands and sols of the feet are kept in water for 30 minutes, through which low voltage current is passed. Initially, the therapy is done thrice a week, then as sweating gradually decreases, frequency is reduced to twice a week, then gradually once a week or once in fifteen days for maintenance therapy.
- Botulinum toxin injection – Multiple small injections given in the affected areas, such as palm or sole, where it reduces sweating by inactivating the sweat glands in that area. Once injected, It remains effective for 6-12 months after first dosage, but with subsequent dosages, the effectiveness period increase greatly. This is a very effective method of treating hyperhydrosis but it is very expensive.
- Microneedling RF – This procedure selectively inactivates or destroys our sweat glands and is very effective. But it is a very expensive procedure as well.
Are there any oral medicines available for hyperhydrosis?
YES, and they are
*However, these medicines have a side effect, which is, it causes dryness of mouth.
The mechanism by which these oral medicines act is by reducing the secretions from the sweat glands. But, they also decrease the oral secretions, such as saliva, which causes dryness of the mouth and throat. This is seen as dry lips and excess thirst.
Therefore oral medicines are usually prescribed only in severe cases and when there is excess sweating all over the body. It’s dosage is dependent on the body weight of the patient.
Some general measures that can be taken are :-
- Take bath twice daily – Sweat, if accumulates can cause growth of bacteria and fungi, and this may lead to infection, such as boils or tinea(fungal infections).
- Apply talc powder after bathing – powder blocks the pores of the sweat gland thus reducing their secretion to some extent
- Roll on deodorant are better than spray – roll on deodorant contains wax which blocks the sweat gland and reduces sweat secretion. On the other hand chemical spray deodorants irritates our sweat glands and causes increased sweating.
- Use ice on the face – in case of excess sweating from the face. Ice inactivates our sweat glands. Girls can also use compact after bath, as it contains talc, which blocks the sweat glands. Boys can use Alum(phitkari) which contains aluminum that reduces sweating.
- If your armpits are becoming dark due to excess sweating, Mix Aloe vera gel with Tea tree oil and apply over the skin.
- A paste of Luke warm water + Apple Cider Vinegar + Honey can be used over the armpit. This helps get rid of any bad smell and as well as lightens the skin.
Some additional measures that can be taken to prevent/reduce sweating :-
- Wear loose cotton dresses
- Eat less onion and garlic, and spicy foods as well.
Blog by: Dr. Uttam Kumar Lenka, Consultant Dermatologist. Kolkata.