What Is Hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a common disorder which produces a lot of unhappiness. Sweating is your body’s normal mechanism to cool itself, but some people produce more sweat than is needed for cooling – called hyperhidrosis. This condition affects about 2 to 3 per cent of the population.
There are 2 categories of hyperhidrosis – primary and secondary.
In primary hyperhidrosis, the most common type, the cause of the excessive sweating is not known. It often starts in childhood or adolescence and tends to affect the palms, soles, armpits and sometimes the face and scalp. Rarely, primary hyperhidrosis may affect the whole body.
Stress and anxiety can make the sweating worse, and although the condition occurs in both warm and cool climates, it is usually worse at higher temperatures. Many people with primary hyperhidrosis have a family history of the condition. Sometimes hyperhidrosis improves on its own over time.
Secondary hyperhidrosis occurs when the excessive sweating is due to an underlying medical condition. It may affect the whole body.
Untreated, these problems may continue throughout life.
Sweating is socially embarrassing, it stains clothes and complicates business and social interactions. Hyperhidrosis of the soles may not only result in smelly feet, but may also damage footwear. People with hyperhidrosis of the palms are often embarrassed by a cold, wet handshake. They may have trouble using keypads and other electronic equipment.
Severe cases can have serious practical consequences as well, making it hard for people who suffer from it to hold a pen or grip a car steering wheel.
Excessive sweating can also predispose you to skin infections such as warts and tinea. Certain other skin conditions, including eczema and rashes, occur more often in people with hyperhidrosis.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
Although neurologic, endocrine, infectious, and other systemic diseases can sometimes cause hyperhidrosis, most cases occur in people who are otherwise healthy. Heat and emotions may trigger hyperhidrosis in some, but many who suffer from hyperhidrosis sweat nearly all their waking hours, regardless of their mood or the weather.
What is the Treatment for Hyperhidrosis?
Through a systematic evaluation of causes and triggers of hyperhidrosis, followed by a judicious, stepwise approach to treatment, many people with this annoying disorder can sometimes achieve good results and improved quality of life.
Botulinum toxin and Excessive Sweating
Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) injections have been found to be effective for hyperhidrosis of the armpits. Botulinum toxin stops the sympathetic nerves (which normally control sweating) from stimulating the sweat glands, and the effect may last between 4 and 12 months. Side effects are generally minimal but may include pain at the injection sites and compensatory sweating in other areas.
Botulinum toxin type A injections have also been used for hyperhidrosis of the palms and soles, although this treatment is more complicated. Local anaesthetic is generally required for these injections, and side effects from botox injections to the palms may include temporary weakness of the hand muscles.
In summary, excessive sweating of the underarms has 2 options:
- Dr Holman can treat it immediately with Botox, or
- We can trial some medical options first for a few months.
If the medical options fail then Dr Holman can send you to a dermatologist. The dermatologist can treat with Botox for much less if they agree it’s a medically indicated use and the cost is then largely covered by Medicare. The Botox effect lasts 3 to 6 months for hyperhidrosis.
You’ll need a referral for the dermatologist though so would need to consult with Dr Holman or your GP prior to your visit.
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