Getting a heavy sweat on is totally normal when you’re working out. But when you find yourself a dripping mess simply ordering a coffee or sitting at your desk? Not ideal.
Enter, hyperhidrosis: a condition that occurs when the amount you’re schvitzing doesn’t seem to match the situation you’re in.
“Hyperhidrosis is sweating beyond your body’s physiological requirement or need,” explains Perth Dermatology Clinic’s Dr Tony Cacetta.
“It is most commonly localised and usually affects the armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis); palms and soles (palmoplantar hyperhidrosis) and scalp and face (craniofacial hyperhidrosis).”
It’s estimated that up to 5 per cent of the population is affected by hyperhidrosis, although most people refrain from seeking treatment either because of embarrassment or because they’re unaware that there are medical treatments available to help.
“Excessive sweating is often a chronic lifelong condition,” Dr Cacetta explains.
“There is an exaggerated or abnormal response of the nervous system controlling the sweat glands.”
And while the exact cause of localised hyperhidrosis remains unknown, the generalised kind (which is far less common) is usually due to a side effect of medication, or neurological or hormonal disorders.
So, what can be done?
Depending on the area affected, a few treatment methods may be trialled.
“Excessive armpit sweating may be treated with antiperspirants initially, which will significantly help those with mild sweating. Often this will not work for those with more significant sweating, who will require other treatments.” For those who don’t see an improvement, botulinum toxin therapy (aka, botox) is often recommended.
“This reliably leads to a >90% reduction in sweating lasting for 3-6 months in most before requiring re-treatment. There are also other treatments available including microwave thermolysis,” he says.
Iontophoresis is best for those suffering from excessive sweating of the palms and soles of the feet. Essentially, this is a machine that “delivers a direct current through contact with the skin in water and blocks the sweat glands.”
“Initially daily treatment for 30 minutes is required which may then be reduced as required. This treatment will often lead to >60% reduction in sweating when used,” Dr Cacetta says.
And when it comes to the face and scalp, botulinum toxin therapy works a treat, as do some oral medications.
“Generalised sweating requires a thorough work up by your doctor to determine an underlying cause. Treatment of the underlying medical condition results in improvement of generalised sweating,” Dr Cacetta explains.
For more information, visit www.excessivesweatinghelp.com.au