Excessive sweating is more than just a minor irritation. It’s a real condition that can cause perspiration regardless of the temperature, a person’s activity level, or their level of stress. It’s just something that happens. It can be embarrassing, especially when you want to hold or shake hands. It might increase body odor and foot odor. It could eat through antiperspirants and scented spray, causing many people to isolate and avoid others. Some will even avoid going out in public unless they have to. They might abstain from dating or intimate relations. It’s not fair, and there are real biological reasons why this can happen. It might not be something that can be controlled without treatment from a cosmetic provider. Fortunately, there are a number of procedures that can help mitigate the problem.
What is Excessive Sweating?
Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, is a condition that causes the body to sweat even when it is not overheated. About 15.3 million Americans, or 1-2% percent of the population suffer from the problem. Roughly 70% of people who suffer from hyperhidrosis report that it is confined to a specific area of their body, usually the armpits. It can also occur in the groin area, the scalp, between the breasts, the hands and feet, the buttocks, and the lower back. It is quite pervasive. Some patients say that they sweat even when they are swimming or in the shower.
The worst part about excessive sweating is the odor. When sweat comes into contact with bacteria on the skin, it creates a foul stench. It doesn’t always occur. The bacteria have to be present for the problem to be noticed. But it can be off-putting, and in some cases, there’s no avoiding it. Sometimes excessive sweating is a natural tendency caused by overactive eccrine glands, and sometimes it’s a symptom of a medical condition. When patients realize that they are experiencing hyperhidrosis, they should schedule a visit with a medical practitioner before seeking cosmetic treatment. There may be a larger issue that needs to be addressed first.
Common Types of Excessive Sweating?
The first step when seeking treatment is to try to determine whether excessive sweating is caused by a medical condition or a result of overactivity in the sweat glands. This is one of the main distinctions between the two types of hyperhidrosis, known as primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
Primary focal hyperhidrosis occurs when one area of the body sweats excessively. It's usually the armpits, but it can also happen on the hands, feet, or sometimes the face. It often begins during childhood or adolescence. Once a week, usually while the patient is awake, they will start excreting large amounts of sweat. It's not a result of a medical condition. It is most likely something that is inherited. It happens when the nerves that control the sweat glands become overactive. Patients with this problem usually forego medical treatment and seek cosmetic treatment instead, though they may periodically develop skin infections.
Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis
Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis causes sweating all over the body, not just the problem areas that crop up in patients who experience primary focal hyperhidrosis. The term “secondary” refers to the fact that it is a result of something else. It can be caused by taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, pain relievers, thyroid medications, antiviral drugs, cancer drugs, and antibiotics. Certain medical conditions, including diabetes and thyroid problems can also be the cause of secondary hyperhidrosis. Women who are experiencing menopause often complain about the problem. Obviously hyperhidrosis is a valid concern, but it may be necessary to withstand it in order to overcome major medical or psychological disorders.
What Causes Excessive Sweating?
The cause of primary focal hyperhidrosis is simple. The eccrine glands that secrete sweat just keep going, even when they are supposed to stop. But when we look into secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, we begin to see a whole host of problems that can cause excessive sweating. Each one may be unique to different medications and disorders.
Medication is the most common cause of hyperhidrosis. The specifics are complicated and not fully known. But some medications do affect a part of the brain known as the spinal thermoregulatory center, which controls sweating. They may also affect certain enzymes which regulate sweating. This is something that patients should discuss with a qualified medical practitioner.
There’s a whole host of medical conditions that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis, and there are many reasons why it can occur. It may be specific to each disorder. Some conditions affect the nervous system, triggering the sweat glands. Others affect specific areas of the brain or cause the body to heat up.
Genetics are believed to play a huge part in primary focal hyperhidrosis. Though the full mechanism isn’t understood, studies have shown that there may be a problem with the sympathetic nervous system that causes the nerves which control the sweat glands to stay active even when they shouldn’t be.
Procedures That Remedy Excessive Sweating
There are a number of both cosmetic and medical treatments designed to address excessive sweating. They’re often non-surgical, simple procedures with a low complication and little to no downtime. Patients often walk away satisfied once their problem has been treated. If they don’t, they can usually try another form of treatment until something else works.
BotoxFind doctors who offer Botox
Many patients are surprised, and maybe a bit skeptical, when their doctor suggests using botulinum toxin (Botox) to treat their excessive sweating. But it can be effective. It blocks the nerve signals that tell the eccrine glands to secrete sweat, cutting to the root of the problem. The effects can last for more than a year.
miraDryFind doctors who offer miraDry
The miraDry system is an effective solution for anyone facing primary hyperhidrosis in the underarms. It uses electromagnetic and thermal energy to target the sweat glands and eliminate them. The effect is permanent and instant. Patients will stop sweating right away, and once the glands are gone, they don’t grow back.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is miraDry safe?
Some patients raise an eyebrow when they hear that miraDry destroys the sweat glands. Something about it just doesn’t sound right. It can seem unnatural. But the truth is that miraDry really is safe. It can cause redness, soreness, and swelling, which will last a few days after receiving treatment. But aside from that, most patients don’t experience many side effects at all, and there are no recorded long-term complications. That doesn’t mean that patients should rush into treatment. It’s not for everyone. But it is FDA approved and most patients walk away satisfied when they see the full results.
Are there other ways to treat excessive sweating?
The most common cosmetic treatments for primary hyperhidrosis are Botox and miraDry. Both are known to be effective. They are relatively inexpensive, and the side effects are minimal. Secondary hyperhidrosis is another ballgame. It’s a medical concern that should be discussed with a medical provider. There are other ways to treat primary hyperhidrosis. Doctors can prescribe medications such as anticholinergics. Iontophoresis is also common. It involves placing the hands and feet in a tray of electrified water. There are surgical procedures that can cut out, scrape, or suction out the sweat glands, among other things. But those options are reserved for severe cases.
How long does it take for Botox to take effect?
Botox is effective at treating hyperhidrosis. In fact, it's been called a revolutionary treatment, because of its success rate. But individual results will still vary. It can take up to 50 units to treat the issue. Some patients see no effects at all. Some require more than one session before the effects take hold. Usually, when Botox does work it can take 5 days or more for patients to stop sweating. The problem won't fully reside for another 2 weeks. Fortunately, there are other forms of treatment that patients can turn to if they fail to achieve the results they're looking for.
Is surgery the best way to treat excessive sweating?
Surgery isn't the most effective way to treat excessive sweating. The procedures are performed using several different techniques. Doctors can suction out sweat glands, cut them out, scrape them out, or they can use some type of energy source to remove them. Oftentimes, these operations cause what is known as compensatory sweating. Patients will secrete large amounts of sweat in various regions of their bodies to compensate for losing their sweat glands in the region targeted by the procedure. This does not happen with non-surgical methods, and it completely defeats the point of getting the procedure in the first place.