It's Summer time so we can all look forward to some nice weather, right?
Well, for those of you (including myself) who suffer with hyperhidrosis, hot weather also means excessive sweating. No-one likes to talk about it, but fortunately I've learned a couple of tricks along the way which may help...
I SWEAT A LOT - IS THAT NORMAL?
Everyone sweats differently depending on lots of things - the weather, your clothes, your mood etc. Sweating is your body's way of cooling you down. But some people sweat much more than they should, or from unusual places (e.g. hands, feet) even when they're not hot - these people have hyperhidrosis.
It can have devastating effects and can make even simple things a nightmare. There are times that I don't want to shake anyone's hand because it makes me so uncomfortable!
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
Some people are genetically prone to getting it - they are just born with it. Others get it because they have another medical problem (e.g. thyroid, diabetes). The result is that you sweat much more than needed and it can get quite annoying and embarassing. I remember at school I would have to wrap a paper towel or tissue around my hand just so that my notebooks wouldn't get soaked as I wrote on them. People thought I was weird because they didn't understand.
Nervousness or excitement just make things worse - like me you'll be stuck in that horrible cycle: you get nervous because you are sweating, and then you sweat more because you are nervous!
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
When I was younger, I used to think there was nothing that could be done and I would just have to put up with it. Then I got so fed up that I took the plunge and went to see my doctor - and I am so glad I did!
Basically, there are 3 main treatments: stuff you can do at home, medicines and surgery. It is always worth seeing your GP first to make sure that there isn't an underlying medical reason for your problem:
1. STUFF YOU CAN DO AT HOME...
Depending on what kind of sweating you have, making sure you wash regularly will help cool you down and prevent any unpleasant smells. It might help to take spare clothing/socks with you but this isn't always practical. Also, if it's your armpits that are the problem then try a good antiperspirant deodorant/roll-on (such as Sure).
There are some great products out there that really do help. One of the best I have found is a roll-on anti-perspirant called Driclor (aluminium chloride) - you can get this without prescription. You have to put it on every night to start off with before you go to bed, but it usually starts working within a few days and you can then space it out. It can be used on any area of skin where sweating is a problem - the only problem is it can cause irritation.
There is also a powder available called Zeasorb which you can use like a talc. Some people find this useful.
If that's not enough, there are a group of medicines called anti-cholinergics that calm down the nerves that supply sweat glands so you sweat less. They can either be taken by mouth, or by a special treatment called iontophoresis (which I found uncomfortable!). You will need to see your GP about these as you may need referral to a Dermatologist to get them, and they do have some tricky side-effects.
It might come as a surprise, but botulinum toxin (Botox) can be given by lots of tiny little painless injections into the affected skin and is an extremely effective treatment. The results can last between 4 to 9 months. However, it's not cheap and may not be available on the NHS.
Sometimes the only option is an operation where either the sweat glands are removed or the nerves supplying them are cut. This procedure can be highly effective, but can be difficult to perform and may have troublesome side-effects. This isn't suitable for everyone and you will definitely have to see your GP to get a referral for this.
Whatever you choose to do, just remember that like me you don't have to put up with it. Don't be embarassed to talk about it - just find the treatment that works for you.