Last month I saw Sam (not his real name), an executive at a major company. Sam is used to being in the public eye and he takes most things in stride. He was somewhat embarrassed to see me for his problem. He noticed that over the past three years he has had worsening of the amount of sweating he has almost all the time. It has caused him social embarrassment, has ruined thousands of dollar’s worth of dress shirts, and now is causing irritation of his skin. He wanted to know what he could do for this as over the counter antiperspirants were not doing the trick. He had a great life but this was becoming a major nuisance.
Sam is suffering from what is known medically as hyperhidrosis. It has been estimated that almost 3% of the U.S. population suffer from this condition in which the body secretes too much sweat. Usually one or two body areas are impacted. The armpit is the most common area. Without treatment this can be incredibly annoying.
The good news is that there is hope. The simplest solution is a prescription strength antiperspirant. This works for many people and is relatively inexpensive. The challenge for some people is that it can sting or burn when applied and it can also be irritating to the skin. Drionics is another option. This electronic device which sells for about $200 and can be ordered online can work to suppress sweating. I have not found many people willing to stick with this treatment because it requires 30 minutes of daily treatment. Most people I see simply don’t have the time. The most popular treatment in my practice is Botox for hyperhidrosis. Botox is injected into the skin and blocks the communication between the nerve telling the sweat gland to work overtime. It works great for most people. The only inconvenience can be cost and the fact that it does require 2-3 treatments per year. It is quick and effective.
There are treatments that have the potential to permanently destroy sweat glands. Devices that use radiofrequency or micro-focused high intensity ultrasound to destroy sweat glands can give lasting results. These are effective for many people. Liposuction of the armpit is another treatment that can give long lasting results and can be performed in the office with local anesthesia. In this procedure the sweat glands are targeted as opposed to fat cells. For the most severe cases, a neurosurgeon can destroy the nerve causing the problem. This is permanent but patients who undergo this have the risk of developing compensatory increased sweating in other areas.
Sam came back two weeks after his Botox treatment. He was delighted that he no longer had the social phobia he had developed and was no longer ruining his dress shirts. His sweating was dramatically reduced. He calculated that the money he saved by no longer ruining his clothes more than covered the cost of his Botox treatment. If you suffer from hyperhidrosis call us today so that we can find a solution that works for you.
Category: General Dermatology