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Do you sweat too much?

Posted on 24 July, 2011

Excessive sweating is a problem that affects many people, men & women alike – around 3-4% of the population. The condition of excessive sweating is known medically as ‘hyperhidrosis’. The following questions are used as a tool to assess the problem.      Which of the following best describes how underarm sweating affects you? A             Never noticeable and never interferes with my daily activities B             Tolerable but sometimes interferes with my daily activities C             Barely tolerable and frequently interferes with my daily activities D             Intolerable and always interferes with my daily activities   If C or D describes you then you may be suffering from severe axillary (armpit) hyperhidrosis. The problem usually starts around late teens, early twenties. For some the problem may be focused on the head, for some the hands but most are affected in their armpits. The amount of sweat produced is more than that required by the body to reduce temperature. These episodes can occur at any time, it doesn’t have be hot or during physical activity or brought on by anxiety, it just happens. That being said for some people there are triggers such as eating, exercise, heat or cold, emotions and time of day. Some learn to manage and live with the problem without experiencing undue anxiety but for others it can feel like a real burden, affecting confidence in the workplace or socially and can lead to anxiety around anticipation of it happening, not just directly related to episodes. It can also be perceived as a practical problem with the need for frequent washing of clothes, although odour is not increased in hyperhidrosis, commonly large wet patches will form on clothing.   There are a few medical conditions that may underly this problem, especially if it is a new problem. The place to start is by seeing your GP who may be able to investigate the symptoms to exclude any medical conditions. For many though, it is simply a case of an over enthusiastic fight or flight system. There are 2 different types of sweat glands – eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine produce the thin watery type of sweat which tends to be odourless. Apocrine glands produce a more viscous sweat that smells. The condition hyperhidrosis affects the eccrine glands so that they experience high levels of wetness but no odour. Once you have been assessed as suitable, a series of injections using a very fine needle are carried out in each armpit  in just one appointment resulting in a dramatic effect on this problem. The procedure itself takes around 30 minutes.   The injections are used to block the action of the sweat receptors so that the excessive fluids are not produced. The injections are really superficial and not painful. The results start to show after 7 days and last for around 9 months. Sometimes a second appointment is needed to add a few more injections if the sweating is not as well controlled as desired. Side effects include (as with all injectable treatments) the risk of bruising, occasionally people experience increased sweating in other areas but this is not common. There are other options for excessive sweating and it is certainly worth trying.There are extra strength antiperspirants you can buy from the chemist which can be quite effective although can irritate the skin also. Ask your pharmacist about these. Surgery is also an option although there can be problems with sweating elsewhere and wound healing. Surgery should only be considered after trying all other options. Book for a free consultation at any of the 3 central London locations; EC1, EC2, E3. The treatment itself costs £400 for both armpits and the whole appointment will take around 1 hour.