Hyperhidrosis: It Can Be Treated
Without proper treatment, hyperhidrosis can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Sweating hands, underarms, feet or face can give the wrong impression in business and personal situations.
Excessive sweating is also inconvenient. People with hyperhidrosis often have to wash more, have their clothes cleaned more, and sometimes even need to use special pads to absorb excess perspiration. If that weren’t enough, excess sweating promotes infection and causes unpleasant odours.
So, hyperhidrosis, while not a dangerous disorder, is unpleasant and inconvenient. Luckily, doctors now know much more about this condition and how to manage it.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hyperhidrosis
What is the definition of hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is a disorder which makes people sweat more than they need to. In most cases, the cause of hyperhidrosis is unknown. This is known as primary hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis can also be caused by an underlying condition (e.g. hormonal disorders, menopause, obesity, nerve damage), and by some drugs although this is very uncommon. This is known as secondary hyperhidrosis.
When sweating occurs over the entire body, it is known as generalized hyperhidrosis.
When sweating occurs in a certain place only, it is known as focal hyperhidrosis. Most often, focal hyperhidrosis affects:
- Underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis)
- Hands (palmar hyperhidrosis)
- Feet (plantar hyperhidrosis)
- Face (facial hyperhidrosis)
What causes hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating?
Sweating is caused by the part of the body known as the autonomic nervous system – the network of nerves that controls autonomic body functions such as breathing and heartbeat.
Normally, the body produces sweat in order to keep its temperature at a healthy level. Sometimes, for reasons scientists don’t yet understand, the nerves controlling the sweat glands become overactive, producing more sweat than the body needs to stay cool. The result is hyperhidrosis.
How is hyperhidrosis diagnosed?
Hyperhidrosis is diagnosed by your doctor after a full medical history and physical exam. Some tests may be required to help rule out other diseases.
Sometimes before treating focal hyperhidrosis, it may be necessary to find out what specific area of the body is producing excess sweat. This is done using a diagnostic procedure known as the Minor Test. For this test, a weak solution of iodine is applied to the skin. Then, powdered starch is dusted over the dried iodine.
As the patient sweats, the areas where excessive sweating occurs are stained a bluish colour by the iodine/starch mixture. This test shows doctors where the sweat glands are overactive.
Gravimetry is another test which measures exactly how much a patient sweats. This is not a common procedure and is usually only done in research studies. In gravimetry, blotting paper is pressed against the skin to soak up the sweat. Then, the blotting paper is weighed with a delicate scale to determine how much sweat has been absorbed.
What are the treatment options for hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating?
The good news is that there are a number of options to manage excessive sweating. These range from topical preparations to surgery. It’s important to realize there is no single “right” way to treat hyperhidrosis. Everyone is different.
If you have hyperhidrosis, call the Healthy Skin Centre and book a consultation. Your treatment will depend on the location of your hyperhidrosis, its severity and how it affects your life.
Treatment options include the following:
- Topical treatments: applying aluminum chloride hexahydrate
- Oral medications: treating the underlying conditions
- Iontophoresis: applying low-intensity electric current to affected areas
- Surgery: severing the nerves that causes excess sweating
- Botox injections: interrupting the signal from the nerve to the sweat glands
What is the most effective treatment option for excessive sweating?
Botox is the most effective way to treat excessive sweating. In one study of excessive underarm sweating, 95% of patients responded to the treatment with an average reduction in sweating of 83% in just one week.
What’s more the effect is long lasting. On average, each treatment will effectively reduce sweating for seven months or more.
Botox is the only prescription medicine approved by Health Canada for the treatment of underarm hyperhidrosis-which means it is not only deemed effective but also safe when used correctly by a specially trained doctor.
How safe is it to use Botox in the treatment of excessive sweating?
Botox is very safe. For the treatment of excessive underarm sweating, the only drug-related side effect is a perceived increase in sweating in other parts of the body, which happens in only 4.5% of cases.
Botox has been used for many years to treat other diseases. It is approved by Health Canada to treat muscle spasms affecting the eyes, neck and limbs. Botox is also used to relieve muscle spasms in children as young as two with cerebral palsy. The long-term safety of the drug is well proven.
What does a Botox Hyperhidrosis treatment involve?
The procedure is simple. A small amount of the drug is injected under the skin to the affected area using a very fine needle. At the Healthy Skin Centre, we use local anaesthetic cream to alleviate all discomfort.
Botox Hyperhidrosis works by blocking the signal from the nerve to the sweat gland. Once the overactive nerve stops stimulates the sweat gland, the sweating stops. Since the drug only works in the area where it is injected, sweat glands in other parts of the body function normally. There is no risk of getting overheated.
You should notice a significant reduction of sweating in the treated areas within seven days of your treatment. Eventually, after about seven months, your excessive sweating will slowly return.
How much does a Botox Hyperhidrosis treatment cost?
If you have health insurance chances are, your Botox Hyperhidrosis costs will be covered. You will only be responsible for the injection fee. All you need is the name of your health insurance provider and your plan number. It is just like paying for custom made orthotics or compression stockings. You pay for your treatment up front and then your plan reimburses you. If for any reason, your plan refuses to pay for the treatment, the company that produces Botox, Allergan, will reimburse your cost instead. This is done for compassionate reasons, so that all those who suffer from excessive sweating may receive treatment. However, Allergan will only pay once and then you must either pay yourself or get a new plan.
For more information about hyperhidrosis and how to handle it, call the Healthy Skin Centre today and book yourself a private and confidential consultation. Isn’t it time to get your hyperhidrosis under control?