Hyperhidrosis

Sweating is a vital function, which regulates the temperature of the body in warm conditions or when exercising, but some people do suffer from abnormalities with this system and can sweat excessively even when they are not actually hot. This condition is known as hyperhidrosis.

There are two main types of hyperhidrosis, primary or secondary. Primary hyperhidrosis is more common and causes sweating in specific points of the body, mainly the feet, hands, and armpits. Sweating is regulated by the sympatic nervous system and those that suffer from primary hyperhidrosis are often genetically predisposed to an over sensitive system, that triggers sweat unnecessarily, causing the sweat glands to be overactive. Secondary hyperhidrosis is less common and can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as an overactive thyroid. This causes excessive sweating across the whole of the body and can also be triggered as a side effect of some prescribed drugs such as antidepressants.

The degree of sweating with both types of hyperhidrosis can vary over time, and in the case of primary hyperhidrosis, the condition may even disappear for a while completely. Certain things such as anxiety, fear or excitement, and also some spicy foods can trigger excessive sweating. If you do sufferer from hyperhidrosis it is also best not to expose yourself to unnecessarily hot conditions as this will exacerbate the condition, such as very hot baths or showers or exposure to prolonged sunlight.

Hyperhidrosis can be a very embarrassing condition, which can start in the vulnerable teenage years. Therefore there are also some significant psychological symptoms associated with hyperhidrosis, such as social withdrawal, anxiety and even depression. It is important that you address both the physical and psychological symptoms of hyperhidrosis, as being in an anxious or fearful state can actually trigger and prolong the condition.

If you suffer from mild hyperhidrosis, then there are a number of over the counter treatments available. Regular antiperspirants help to block the sweat glands and prevent them from excreting so much fluid, and this can be reapplied regularly throughout the day. Sweat is not in itself smelly, but it does encourage the growth of bacteria on the skin that produces unpleasant smelling fatty acids, and so you should wash at least twice a day and after exercising to minimize this. Regular deodorants can help mask the smell of stale sweat as well but are not a substitute for washing. There have been some reports in recent years about links to antiperspirants and an increased risk of breast cancer, and if you have any worries about using these products you should consult your medical advisor.

In some cases, regular antiperspirants will not be strong enough to combat even mild hyperhidrosis, and there are some stronger treatments available over the counter, which include the ingredient aluminum chloride. These are applied at night to dry skin and have a stronger blocking effect on the sweat glands than regular antiperspirants.

If you suffer from severe hyperhidrosis you will need to consult your doctor who will be able to advise you on some of the more permanent treatments that are available.

10 Self Help Tips to Stop Sweating

Sweating is a normal bodily function, designed to help cool the body down, but some people do suffer from excessive sweating, which is a condition known as hyperhidrosis.

Here are ten tips on how to ease the symptoms of excessive sweating:

1. Sweat in itself is not smelly, but it does encourage the growth of a bacteria that naturally occurs on your skin. This bacteria breaks down sweat and releases a fatty acid, which has an unpleasant and pungent smell. To avoid this you will need to wash at least twice a day and after exercise, and it might be helpful to use an antibacterial soap and make sure you dry yourself thoroughly before getting dressed again. Make sure you wash your clothes before you put them on again, as they will retain the smell of stale sweat for a long time, and this can also degrade the material.

2. Only wear clothes that are loose fitting and made from a natural ingredient such as cotton. Silk is also a natural product, but sweat can permanently stain this delicate fabric, so if you suffer from excessive sweating it is probably a good idea not to wear it close to your skin. Natural fabrics allow air to circulate and aid the natural evaporation of sweat from your body. Always dress appropriately to the weather, and give your body the best chance to stay cool.

3. Healthy diet and exercise – Exercise can improve your body’s overall circulation and make it easier for you to stay cool. Fat can insulate the body and make it more difficult to maintain your internal temperature; causing you to sweat more, and highly processed foods and alcohol are difficult to break down, which stresses the digestion system making it work harder and increase internal body heat. Make sure you eat a balanced healthy diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

4. Avoid stimulating drinks – Caffeine and energy drinks stimulate the nervous system and can trigger sweating. Try and cut out energy drinks altogether, and only drink a maximum of two cups of coffee or tea per day.

5. Drink plenty of water, about 2 litres a day, especially you sweat a lot as this will help prevent you from becoming dehydrated.

6. Relax – Anxiety can trigger sweating so consider trying out relaxation techniques such as yoga, and work on improving your self esteem so that you don’t worry or get embarrassed over unnecessary things.

7. Talcum powder – excessive sweating can cause chaffing and soreness, so after a bath or shower pat vulnerable areas with some talcum powder. This will help keep the skin smooth and dry and avoid rubbing.

8. Antiperspirants/Deodorants – Regular antiperspirants and body sprays can be very effective at reducing sweating and masking odours. You can also buy cooling sprays to mist your face with during the day. For more severe sweating you can get stronger antiperspirants containing aluminium chloride that are applied at night to dry skin, and are more effective at blocking sweat glands.

9. The herb sage has long been thought to reduce sweating, so you could try drinking sage tea twice a day, or using a sage tincture to dab on affected areas. This is a long-term treatment, and may take up to 3 to 4 weeks to show any improvements.

10. Lie down – for some reason the nerves that activate armpit sweating are greatly inhibited when we lie down. On hot days take a few minutes to lie down in a shady, cool area. You could combine this with a little relaxation time, and listen to some soothing music or simply empty your mind and let it rest for a few minutes.

Excessive Sweating

Sweating is a bodily process that is used to regulate body temperature. The evaporation of the sweat draws heat from the skin, and also works to keep the skin moist in dry environments. We can also sweat if we are nervous, scared or excited and sweat from some areas of the body contains scents called pheromones that send signals out on a chemical level. Sweat is also thought to contain a natural antibiotic called dermcidin, that can help regulate the natural flora (bacteria and yeast) on our skin.

There are two main types of excessive sweating, focal or generalized, and treatments vary according to each type.

Excessive sweating is a common problem and there may be many reasons why people suffer from this. Each person has around 3 million sweat glands, but some people naturally have more than others, sometimes as a many as over 4 million. Keeping the body temperature regulated is essential and so sweat glands are capable of excreting quite literally liters of sweat per day, and some people who suffer from excessive sweating may have larger sweat glands, which can individually produce more sweat than others.

It has been proven that men are generally more prone to excessive sweating than a woman, but sometimes hormone fluctuations can cause excessive sweating in women, especially around menopause and during pregnancy. Occasionally sweating a lot can indicate underlying medical conditions such as an overactive thyroid gland and also some prescribed drugs such as antibiotics can also trigger sweating around the head and neck.

Excessive sweating can be unpleasant and may be heavy enough to cause significant damp patches on your clothes. Although sweat does not smell bad itself, it creates an ideal breeding ground for some bacteria’s that break down sweat and produce fatty acids. These fatty acids can have a penetrating, unpleasant smell and so to prevent this you will need to wash and change your clothes at least once a day, and after exercising. Sweat from some parts of the body is higher in salt and is less hospitable to bacteria, such as the back and arms, and so sweat from this area will smell less than the armpits or groin.

If you suffer from excessive sweating there are some steps you can take to relieve the embarrassing symptoms.
– There is a wide range of antiperspirant and deodorant products available, some of which are designed to specifically target excessive sweating. Although these will not completely prevent sweating itself, they do work well to control the odor of sweat and can be reapplied throughout the day.

– As you can sweat odors from food through your skin, cut pungent food from your diets such as onions, spices, and oily fish.

– There are some home remedies that help inhibit the growth of bacteria on your skin, such as patting your armpits with a cider vinegar solution before you go to bed at night. You should wash this off though before you apply your deodorant/antiperspirant in the morning.

– Shave – sweat and bacteria cling to body hair, and so to control odor it is best to shave your armpits, and some men might consider using hair removal methods if they have very hairy upper torsos.

– Aluminum chloride products such as Odaban or Perspirex can be more effective that normal antiperspirants, but can stain and weaken the fabric of clothing. You should never apply this to damp skin as it can react and cause irritation.

– Lie down – this may strange but armpit sweating is inhibited when you lie flat. Also if it is a warm day, lying inside in the cool can help regulate your body temperature and prevent excessive sweating from being triggered.

– A new treatment using Botox has also been proven to help inhibit excessive sweating. Botox can be injected into the skin and works by numbing the nerves that trigger sweat gland activity. One treatment can be effective for up to 2-8 months in the armpit area, and in turn, will reduce body odor.

– In some extreme cases, surgery can be carried out. There are two options, one utilizing electrical currents to destroy the nerves that control sweating in key area like the armpits. The second option is to remove layers of skin from the armpit in order to completely remove sweat glands. This is rarely performed now as it cause some significant scarring and cannot be reversed.

These treatments are really the last resort, as sweating is a vital bodily function and if you inhibit it totally in one area, other areas may usually sweat more to compensate, usually on the back or abdomen.