Gerald, 22, went on a date with a cute girl he met in one of his college classes. The night was perfect and was about to end in a kiss at her doorstep… until his date took his hand. She took one look at him, and he knew there was no second date.
Katie, 16, started using anti-perspirants when she was 10. It started with feminine brands with sweet scents but when she entered high school, all was about to change. She was constantly teased for her armpit stains. She tried using armpit pads, wearing mostly black shirts and even resorted to using her brother’s Old Spice.
One to two percent of the world’s population suffers from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating for the layman. It isn’t your ordinary sweating under the sweltering heat or after 40 minutes at the treadmill. It goes beyond the body’s physiological need to cool down or release toxins.
For those who do not suffer from excessive sweating would just shrug this of and say ‘why don’t you just use an anti-perspirant?’ But it doesn’t come as easy as that; hyperhidrosis is uncontrollable sweating in certain areas such as the palms, feet, groin and underarms. It can happen in any given time, even during sleep, for no reason at all. It can be stressful for those who have the condition since it can affect motor skills such as writing and grip, walking, and it can reach the extent of awkward social interactions.
“You know, that awkward moment when…”
Sweating is a normal bodily response to changing factors such as temperature, hormones and body waste. The average human body has distribution of two to five million sweat glands, think of them as your personal exhaust system. Now, for someone with hyperhidrosis, these glands may have higher in some places than others. For some, it may be due to medical conditions such as diabetes, glandular disorders or even mercury poisoning. Although, the primary cause of hyperhidrosis- why excessive sweating can occur at any time- is as of yet undetermined, doctors surmise that this is an autonomous over-activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Other factors may also contribute to the condition such as nervousness, excitement, and certain food, drinks and scents.
For hyperhidrosis, the usual anti-perspirants just won’t cut it.
There are medically approved anti-perspirants in the market which contain a higher than usual concentration of aluminum chloride, among other ingredients. These anti-perspirants usually take a few days to take full effect. For some, Botox injections are effective for three to nine months. Others take anti-cholinergic drugs, but known side effects are drowsiness, dry mouth and blurred vision. There are also surgical and non-invasive procedures to effectively control sweating. Thermolysis , laser sweat abalation and sweat gland suction are done remove or kill sweat glands. Most doctors have done clamping the thoracic neural structure in the sympathetic chain at the spine which have a reportedly 80% success rate. Another is by blocking sympathetic nerves with phenol. Less popular methods include Ionthophoresis (blocking sweat glands with minerals) and hypnosis.