Are you sweating it out? Take your life back.
Whether you’ve gone for a long run, enjoyed a couple of hours outdoors on a hot summer’s day, or experienced those all-too-common nerves before a presentation, you have probably experienced your body’s natural cooling mechanisms kick in, leading to perspiration.
Sweating is a natural physiological process that our bodies implement, mostly with the aim to cool us down, when our body temperature rises. Our brains are wired in such a way to ensure that we can cool down through evaporation of sweat from the surface of our skin, before our body temperature rises beyond what is healthy. Sweating also contributes in a small way, along with our kidneys, towards toxin and waste removal from our bodies.
But what happens when the intricate and wonderful ways in which our brains are wired to induce sweating in our bodies, do not work the way they should? One such outcome is that our bodies end up sweating excessively. This is known as Hyperhidrosis.
Each time we experience a psychological or physical stressor, our body’s nervous system responds in various ways including firing signals that activate nerve endings in our sweat glands, which then leads to the physiological response of perspiring. Hyperhidrosis occurs when the nervous system over stimulates the sweat glands, leading to excessive, uncontrollable sweating. Whilst this is our body’s natural response and may result in some discomfort, for those suffering from hyperhidrosis this natural response is amplified and the body sweats beyond what is necessary, causing extreme discomfort and even embarrassment.
The pattern of perspiration and the parts of the body affected is thought to determine whether an individual has localized hyperhidrosis or generalized hyperhidrosis, with generalized hyperhidrosis causing perspiration on most areas of the body. This sort of information may also shed light on whether an individual has what’s classified as primary, or secondary, hyperhidrosis where both primary and secondary types have different patterns of perspiration, as well as different causative factors. Usually beginning during childhood or adolescence, and with a possible genetic factor linked to it, primary hyperhidrosis could improve with age or continue into adulthood, however secondary hyperhidrosis is thought to be caused by the side effects of certain medications or by neurological or endocrine conditions.
Hyperhidrosis can be debilitating in social, occupational and emotional settings as it can be severely embarrassing and have a negative impact on the quality of life of those living with the disorder. Clothing can become stained or damp and might have to be changed several times a day, and areas of skin that are damp can be prone to chaffing, dermatitis or infection. Patients may also experience slippery hands and avoid handshaking, may have difficulty operating machinery or electronic equipment such as keypads, may have difficulty writing neatly etc. Furthermore, the soles of the feet may sweat to the point of excessive odour creation, as well as ruin footwear, or may be prone to blistering.
Treatments are varied, but the first line treatments are usually topical. Other lifestyle adjustments which may be helpful include wearing loose and stain resistant clothing, avoiding caffeinated beverages, discontinue any medications that may cause secondary hyperhidrosis, and use antiperspirants.
To find out about the medicated solutions available for the treatment of hyperhidrosis, feel free to contact us on our landline, via email or by submitting a “Ask a pharmacist” query.