In order to understand how hyperhidrosis affects peoples’ lives, we first need to understand the basic process behind sweating. Sweating occurs to regulate body temperature. When the core body temperature increases in response to the environment (for example, increased physical activity or a warm climate), the skin produces a fine later of perspiration, which is made up of mostly water. This then evaporates from the skin, and this evaporation process cools the body.
With this knowledge, we can then answer the question, What is Hyperhidrosis? Hyperhidrosis is essentially heavy sweating, which does not correspond to a high core body temperature. Basically, the body over-produces sweat, but it is not overheated. While this in itself is not harmful, sufferers of hyperhidrosis experience a range of associated problems.
The excess perspiration causes areas of the body to be damper than usual. In many cases, hyperhidrosis is associated with increased body odour, as the damp environment is a haven for bacteria to breed. This wet environment also means hyperhidrosis is associated with increased occurrence of fungal skin infections, including athlete’s foot. For this reason it is particularly important for sufferers to maintain good personal hygiene habits, including regular showers, and thoroughly towel-drying the skin after bathing.
Excessive sweating is not just a case of feeling physically uncomfortable. Sufferers of hyperhidrosis often feel self-conscious about their condition, and this can result in reduced self esteem, withdrawing from social activities, and avoidance of exercise: all of which can snowball into more serious conditions such as depression or anxiety. If you have a friend who experiences hyperhidrosis, educate yourself on the condition, and support them to stay involved with the activities they enjoy.
An antiperspirant deodorant is essential, and can be applied to a number of areas on the body, not just the armpits. Try applying your antiperspirant after a shower, before you go to bed. Reapply again in the morning. This ensures good coverage of the active ingredient aluminium chloride onto the skin. If you have sensitive skin, try applying baking soda to your skin instead. This has the effect of absorbing moisture, as well as being antibacterial, helping to prevent odours.
If regular antiperspirant deodorants aren’t doing the job, see your doctor. They can prescribe clinical strength antiperspirants, and may even recommend you try Botox injections into effected areas (usually the armpits and hands). These products work by paralysing the sweat glands, however the action is not permanent, and this option can be quite expensive over time.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition with a number of physical and emotional side effects. By understanding these, the condition can be more effectively managed, and quality of life can be maintained. With a number of methods out there to manage the symptoms of hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating need not be an issue!
Written by Amelia Stuckey