Hyperhidrosis literally means too much (hyper) sweating (hidrosis). Everyone needs to sweat because it’s your body’s way of cooling itself. However, if you have hyperhidrosis, your body sweats even when it doesn’t need to cool down, which can lead to discomfort and embarrassment.
There are two different kinds of hyperhidrosis, and the most effective treatment depends on which kind you have:
- Axillary hyperhidrosis: excessive underarm sweating
- Palmoplantar hyperhidrosis: excessive sweating of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
Sweating too much can be frustrating and embarrassing, but there are effective treatments available ranging from over-the-counter antiperspirants to surgical interventions. We’ve pulled together a list for you here:
Usually, Dr. Ohanian begins treating hyperhidrosis with prescription-strength antiperspirants for several reasons. Antiperspirants have recently improved, so even if you’ve tried them in the past, you may find they’re more effective now. Also, they can be used on your underarms, palms, or the soles of your feet.
Antiperspirants work by clogging the sweat gland. Usually, that is a signal to your body to stop producing sweat. It’s not always effective, but is a good first-line treatment, because if it does work, it isn’t time-consuming or expensive.
Iontophoresis is a treatment for palmoplantar hyperhidrosis. It involves using a device to pass ionized tap water through the skin with a low electric current. Treatments are required a few times each week, and take 15-40 minutes per session, so though not at all painful, iontophoresis treatments are time-consuming.
Injections of Botulinum toxin A, commonly called Botox, have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis. Getting Botox for excessive sweating involves a number of injections in each armpit and provides relief for up to four to six months.
Microwave energy and laser beams
Two more recent, but quite effective, treatments for axillary hyperhidrosis are miraDry® and laser treatments to destroy sweat glands in the underarm through a process called axillary gland ablation.
Both miraDry and laser treatments use focused energy to penetrate the skin and destroy the sweat glands in your underarm. Since only about 2% of your body’s sweat glands are located in the underarm, destroying them will not impair your body’s ability to cool itself.
Dr. Ohanian uses the PrecisionTx™ laser to perform axillary gland ablation. She first numbs your underarm area, then uses the laser’s focused energy to destroy the sweat glands. There are few side effects, and those only occur rarely. Only one treatment is required, and there are no incisions, which decreases the risk of infection dramatically.
There are some prescription medications that can cause the sweat glands to stop working. However, there are numerous limitations to using these medications because they affect the entire body and can prevent your body from cooling itself.
There are several side effects as well, which increase with the dosage. You may experience blurry vision, heart palpitations, dry mouth, or dry eyes. Many experts recommend using oral medications temporarily, or in specific instances.
A thoracic sympathectomy is a surgery to interrupt the nerve signal to the sweat glands. It is rarely performed as it carries several risks, including the possibility of “compensatory sweating” which could mean you sweat more than you did with hyperhidrosis.
If you have hyperhidrosis or suspect you do, or you feel like you’ve tried every treatment there is without success, book an appointment with Dr. Ohanian. She‘ll be happy to evaluate your situation and suggest a treatment plan.