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Skin Care

Excessive Sweating - Hyperhidrosis
By Dr. Dan Ladd
Austin Skin Institute
Apr 12, 2004, 01:40

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What is hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)?

Excessive sweating from the armpit area is extremely embarrassing and can sharply undermine your confidence in day to day interactions with others. Excessive sweating can also cost a fortune because it can ruin your best clothing with unsightly stains that cannot be removed. 

Sweating is a natural body function that helps us to regulate the temperature of our bodies. Of the five million sweat glands throughout the body about two-thirds of them are located in the palms of the hands. The secretion of sweat is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. Some people experience an over-stimulation of these nerves that results in their sweat being produced in far greater amounts than what is necessary to keep a constant body temperature. This condition is referred to as hyperhidrosis. 

Excessive sweating may be episodic or continuous. Excessive sweating may be caused by warm weather, emotional stress, or for no reason at all. Hyperhidrosis may be due to an underlying medical condition such as obesity, menopause, thyroid or psychiatric disorders in a small number of cases. However, the vast majority of patients have what is known as essential hyperhidrosis, for which the cause is unknown. Essential hyperhidrosis usually occurs on the hands, feet and armpits but may occur in other areas as well. Sometimes only one armpit is affected. The condition usually starts during adolescence and is lifelong. Nervousness and anxiety frequently precipitate excessive sweating. 

Treatments for hyperhidrosis

Essential hyperhidrosis of the armpits is often difficult to control with topical antiperspirants such as Drysol® or Certain Dry®. An anticholinergic medication known as Robinul® or Robinul Forte® can be helpful but has undesirable side effects such as excessively dry mouth and blurred vision. Drionic® makes a device that uses ionophoresis to block sweat glands that is safe but must be repeated every 3 to 6 weeks. A permanent treatment for axillary hyperhidrosis is surgical removal of the armpit sweat glands or the sympathetic nerves that stimulate them. However, these surgeries can have undesirable permanent side effects, so patients should exhaust all possible medical therapies before considering this option. 

Botox® for Excessive Sweating

Patients who want lasting relief without undesirable side effects or surgery are turning to Botox®. Botox® is injected into areas of the skin that produce excess sweat and can effectively reduce sweat production for many months. Botox® injections to the sweat-producing areas of the armpits can frequently provide relief for as long as 6 months. Botox® is also an effective remedy for excessive sweating of the palms of the hands and relief can last many months. However, the pain involved in the administration of Botox® to the hands along with occasional problems related to muscle weakness can make Botox® a less desirable form of therapy for treating hyperhidrosis of the palms.


This article is provided by Austin Skin Institute.  Used with permission.

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The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only.  Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician - patient relationship. Consult a dermatologist, if you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease.
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