Treating Hyperhidrosis

Shaelyn says she first noticed that her sweating had become excessive when she was 11 years old and a classmate pointed it out to her. She says she became increasingly self-conscious about her condition and tried several methods of concealing it, including wearing darker clothes. Many people comment about her condition, and Shaelyn says she has shed many tears out of frustration and embarrassment. After years of suffering, she reached out to The Doctors for help.

The Doctors send her to dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, who diagnoses Shaelyn with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis, also known as emotional hyperhidrosis. The condition causes excessive sweating, usually in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, as well as the underarms, which can occur even when the temperature is cool and can be triggered by stress.

Causes of hyperhidrosis

According to the Mayo Clinic, in patients with hyperhidrosis, the nerves responsible for triggering sweat become hyperactive. The exact cause is unknown, although there may be a genetic component.

Common symptoms

Sweating is a normal function that allows the body to cool off after exertion, when in a hot environment or when under stress. In patients with hyperhidrosis, however, excessive sweat can soak through clothing or drip off hands.

You should see your physician if your sweating disrupts your daily routine, if you notice an increase in the amount of sweat you produce, or if you begin to experience night sweats for an unknown reason.

Treatment options

Treatment for hyperhidrosis will depend on the severity of symptoms. For Shaelyn, Dr. Lee recommends a prescription antiperspirant, which can be used on the hands and feet as well as under her arms. She also recommends Botox injections for her underarms to block the nerves from triggering her sweat glands.

Dr. Lee also demonstrates how an iontophoresis device can reduce excessive sweating by delivering a low-level electrical current to the hands while they are immersed in water. 

Additional treatment options include surgical removal of sweat glands and surgery to cut, burn or clamp the spinal nerves that control sweating to specific areas of the body.

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