There are a variety of ways to lessen the symptoms of hyperhidrosis and treat the condition. Dermatologists frequently recommend MiraDry treatment for excessive sweating because it allows patients to permanently remove the cause of hyperhidrosis and live a comfortable life.
If you sweat more than normal, especially in everyday situations when you aren’t exercising or hot, you may suffer from excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis. This condition isn’t life-threatening, but it can lead to embarrassing social situations. Worrying about sweating too much can seriously damper relationships, career goals, and other situations.
But relief is in sight.
If you suffer from excessive sweating, you don’t have to live your life in embarrassment and discomfort. Here’s everything you need to know about dealing with hyperhidrosis, including MiraDry treatment.
What is Hyperhidrosis?
It’s normal to sweat when you’re exercising or out in the sun. But people with hyperhidrosis have overactive sweat glands that can cause embarrassment and worry. Hyperhidrosis is a condition that creates excessive sweating that isn’t related to heat or exercise. When our bodies get hot, the nerves signal to the sweat glands to start producing sweat to cool the body down. But people with hyperhidrosis have nerves and sweat glands that produce much more sweat than necessary, and often when the body isn’t hot. Often, people who suffer from hyperhidrosis sweat while sitting still or doing everyday activities to the point that it soaks through their clothes and they have to shower multiple times a day.
Hyperhidrosis most often affects the hands, feet, underarm area, and face. Most people with hyperhidrosis experience at least one episode a week, which can cause embarrassment and anxiety. It’s estimated that 2%-5% of the U.S. population has hyperhidrosis, but that number could be much higher because people are often embarrassed about their sweat and don’t seek treatments.
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, you aren’t alone! With a variety of treatments available, there’s no reason to suffer in silence. Take advantage of medical advancements so you can live an enjoyable and comfortable life.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating is a natural bodily function where your nervous system automatically triggers sweat glands to help cool your body as your temperature rises. For people with hyperhidrosis, their sweat gland-signaling nerves are overactive and trigger sweating when the person isn’t hot or exerting themselves.
Doctors haven’t been able to find a medical cause for hyperhidrosis. But because the condition tends to run in families, there is some thought that it is hereditary.
The most common type of hyperhidrosis is focal or primary hyperhidrosis, which is believed to come from a gene mutation. Generalized hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating caused by other medical conditions, and it is much less common.
Just because you tend to sweat more than other people doesn’t automatically mean you have hyperhidrosis. To diagnose the condition, a doctor will likely order blood tests to rule out other possible causes of excessive sweating, such as hyperthyroidism, low blood sugar, or diabetes. If one of those issues is discovered to be the cause of the excessive sweating, the doctor will treat that condition first before addressing hyperhidrosis.
The doctor may also perform tests to see how much sweat your body produces and the most common locations. In the starch-iodine test, a doctor applies an iodine solution and starch to the sweaty areas. When excessive sweat is present, the solution turns blue. Another option is to use specially designed paper that absorbs sweat. Doctors can analyze and weigh the paper to figure out how much sweat a person produced.
How Can Hyperhidrosis Be Treated?
Hyperhidrosis doesn’t have any lasting medical impacts, but it can be embarrassing and make it difficult to perform everyday activities without anxiety. Although hyperhidrosis can’t be cured, treatments can help reduce the symptoms. There are a variety of ways to treat hyperhidrosis that can help people live comfortably and keep their hyperhidrosis under control.
The first options doctors typically recommend is a specially formulated antiperspirant. These antiperspirants typically contain aluminum chloride and are applied to the affected skin areas at night or even multiple times a day. Antiperspirants can be used on all impacted areas of the body, including the armpits, hands, feet, and hairline. Depending on the severity of the condition, a dermatologist may recommend an over-the-counter clinical-strength antiperspirant or a prescription antiperspirant.
Aluminum seals the sweat glands so they don’t produce sweat and signals to your body that the glands are plugged. Over time, prescription antiperspirants can signal to your body to produce less sweat.
The benefit of a clinical antiperspirant is that it is inexpensive and easy to apply, which is why it is the first recommendation of most dermatologists. The downside is that they can cause sensation in the skin, including dryness and irritation.
Topical and Oral Medication
If the antiperspirant doesn’t work, the dermatologist may recommend other medications or therapies. Often, prescription creams with the ingredient glycopyrrolate can be effective in treating hyperhidrosis on the face and head, but they can also lead to dryness and redness.
Another option is an oral medication that blocks the chemicals that allow some nerves to communicate with each other. Essentially, this nerve-blocking medicine stops the nerves that signal the sweat glands to produce more sweat than needed. These medications affect sweat glands over the entire body instead of targeting treatments to specific areas, so they aren’t recommended in every case of hyperhidrosis.
Other potential medications include anticholinergic drugs that can improve the effectiveness of antiperspirants, as well as antidepressants, which can help calm you down and reduce sweating. However, these medications can also come with side effects, so they are only recommended after the doctor examines a patient’s entire medical history.
Surgery and Injections
Another treatment option is to receive low doses of Botox injections to temporarily block the nerves that cause sweating. To be effective, each area needs to receive multiple injections every six months to one year. Botox is most commonly applied to the underarms and can lead to results of less stress within a few days. However, it can also be applied to other areas, including the hands. Once the excessive sweating returns, the treatment needs to be done again.
In severe cases of hyperhidrosis, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove the sweat glands or disconnect the nerves that cause the sweat overproduction. However, this surgery can be very involved and comes with a much higher risk than other treatment options, making it the last result for treatment.
MiraDry Microwave Therapy
The most effective treatment option is MiraDry microwave therapy performed by a dermatologist. In this non-invasive process, the doctor places the MiraDry device against the affected area. MiraDry emits thermal electromagnetic heat to permanently destroy the sweat glands and significantly reduce sweating. The MiraDry procedure can be done in the dermatologist’s office and requires local anesthesia. The skin is also cooled during the process to increase effectiveness and decrease discomfort.
MiraDry has numerous benefits, the most obvious being that it is permanent. With just a single one-hour procedure, your sweat glands can be permanently removed and your excessive sweating can be taken care of for good without needing to take medicine or use prescription antiperspirant for the rest of your life. And with minimal to no downtime, you can quickly get back to doing what you love. Many people who receive MiraDry treatment report an increased sense of confidence that they can go about their regular activities without worrying about sweating too much and getting embarrassed.
How Do You Live with Hyperhidrosis?
Although hyperhidrosis isn’t a comfortable condition, it is possible to live comfortably and work through many of the symptoms. In minor cases, doctors recommend using a non-prescription antiperspirant that contains aluminum-based compounds.
Practicing good hygiene by bathing regularly and drying yourself thoroughly stops skin bacteria from growing and can lessen some of the symptoms.
Wearing breathable clothes, socks, and shoes made of natural materials also allows your skin to get more air and helps wick the sweat from your body. If hyperhidrosis affects your feet, change your socks throughout the day and dry them thoroughly each time.
Many doctors also recommend practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga, to relax your mind and body. When you can control anxiety and outside stressors, your body may be less likely to trigger excessive sweating.
Living with hyperhidrosis can be stressful and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. Like all medical conditions, hyperhidrosis is tied to your genetic makeup, not your hygiene. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your dermatologist about treatments for hyperhidrosis, including MiraDry. You can be on your way to enjoying life without worrying about excessive sweat.