Attention Excessive Sweaters - are you suffering from hyperhidrosis?

Dr Terence Poon|hyperhidrosis
27 November 2018

Are you dreading the hotter weather because it means excessive sweating?

Is humidity your worst enemy?

Do you struggle with sweat more than other people seem to?

The problem may be a condition called hyperhidrosis.

It’s one of the most embarrassing conditions we see in our dermatology practice and more likely to be a problem as we enter the warmer time of year.

But fear not – there are a number of treatments available that can help reduce and even eliminate this troublesome condition.

What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis often starts in the teen and young adult years, as the body transitions into adulthood.

Typically, no cause is found and as yet, thought there does seem to be a hereditary component to it’s development. Medical science can offer no further explanation for this condition as yet.

However, there are underlying conditions that can produce excessive sweating, such as thyroid conditions, some cancers, heart attacks, diabetes, infections and of course, menopausal hot flushes.

It’s important to get checked for these underlying conditions. They can be serious problems that need a specialist treatment path that is different to that of hyperhidrosis.

Our bodies sweat to keep us cool. Evolutionarily, this has been a great advantage to humans. It gives our bodies a cooling system while we move, allowing us to keep moving without overheating, for long periods. This gave us an advantage over the animals our ancestors would hunt, who had to stop running away when they overheated.

Modern life, however, means sweat is often an annoying side effect of Summer. For most of us, it’s one we treat simply with deodorants.

But when a patient suffers from hyperhidrosis, normal daily sweating can be excessive, particularly under the arms, from the palms, the forehead and the feet.

And like most people, the sweating is worsened by heat, nervousness and stress. This can often mean soiled clothing, smelly feet and frequently clammy hands.

Do I need treatment for my hyperhidrosis?

It’s important to realise that hyperhidrosis does not present a medically serious condition, so treatment is not necessary.

However, as previously mentioned, because excessive sweating can be a sign of a more serious condition, it’s important to rule those out before assuming no treatment is required.

More commonly, those who suffer from hyperhidrosis tend to face social anxiety and limitation, specially during summer. Therefore, treatment is often desired.

Treatment options for hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis can come in varying degrees of severity, so we encourage patients to try less invasive treatment options first.

The most obvious of these is using antiperspirants. This form of deodorant uses ingredients that are designed to stop the sweat glands from releasing moisture and can be effective in milder forms of hyperhidrosis.

If antiperspirants have not been effective, several other options are available.

Prescription medications, in the form of creams and oral medications, can be effective on certain parts of the body affected by hyperhidrosis. As with many medications, there can be side effects which your prescribing doctor should discuss with you before you begin to take them.

Microwave therapy, while rare and expensive, seeks to stop the sweat glands in the affected area from performing their normal function. In so doing, they cease to produce sweat. This treatment is not particularly common.

Surgical treatments can remove sweat glands from your arm pits in a minimally invasive procedure, but is usually only conducted when other treatments are not working.

Nerve surgery can cut or clamp the nerves that cause sweating in the palms, which can be very effective. However, it can produce further excessive sweating in other parts of the body, because the body compensates for the lost ability to sweat from the palms.

The most common treatment

When antiperspirants are not effective, the most common treatment option is the use of botulinum toxin type A injections.

This is the same product we use in facial injectables to prevent the formation of wrinkles. It relaxes the muscles that cause sweat glands to produce sweat and can be used on arm pits, palms, feet and forehead.

What does botulinum toxin type A treatment involve? 

Our dermatologist must first determine that your sweating isn’t the result of any other condition, and approve you for botulinum toxin type A treatment. The procedure can be performed in our clinic, at your convenience.

It takes approximately 15-20 minutes to perform and the treatment takes 7-14 days to become fully effective. A single treatment can remain effective for 6-9 months.

The injections that administer the treatment are small and patients rarely find the need for pain killers or anaesthetic treatments. However, our clinic has a full suite of pain management options for any patient who is particularly sensitive to pain, including oral analgesics and anaesthetic creams.

Medicare and hyperhidrosis treatment with botulinum toxin type A

There may be a Australian Medicare rebate available for this treatment, which will subsidise the cost when the procedure is performed by a Medicare approved specialist.

Patients who qualify for the Medicare rebate receive up to three subsidised treatments per year.

Our dermatology specialist, Dr Terence Poon, and our Clinic, have been approved to treat patients under the Medicare rebate scheme for hyperhidrosis.

Want to know more about treatment for hyperhidrosis?

Why not make an appointment with our dermatologist, Dr Terence Poon, to have your condition checked before the summer sets in? Call our friendly receptionists today to make your appointment on (02) 9953 9522.

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Written by Dr Terence Poon.
Dr Terence is one of Sydney’s most experienced laser dermatologists and has been practicing at our clinic for nearly 20 years.