02 September 2010

Excessive sweating

We all sweat, what's the big deal? For some people sweat is more than just a nuisance - excessive sweating is having a devastating effect on millions.

We can all deal with a little sweat on a hot day, when exercising and when we are nervous.

At a product launch for an antiperspirant that combats excessive sweating, Anne Kirstine Riemann, MD of Riemann & Co, said excessive sweating - hyperhidrosis - is a clinical disorder that leads to the over-production by the sweat glands. It causes large amounts of visible sweat to gather, impossible to hide, and potentially also results in body odour. It affects millions of people around the world.

  • Antiperspirants – the most common treatment for sufferers of hyperhidrosis. They decrease the production of sweat. How long the effects last will depend on the efficacy of the product.
  • Anticholinergic drugs – these drugs dry up bodily secretions. However, they have significant side-effects including on the cardiovascular system, and can cause dry mouth, dizziness, somnolence and blurry vision.
  • Iontophoresis - this is a process in which the affected area of the body is immersed in a solution through which a low electric current is passed. After three to four treatments of 15-20 minutes each, perspiration will be reduced for a couple of weeks. The channels of the sweat glands become clogged with keratin during the treatment. The treatment needs to be repeated frequently.
  • Botox - Botox injections into the skin of the affected area is another option. Injections need to be repeated every month, they are expensive, and can cause muscle weakness when used on the hands.
  • Surgery – in severe cases of hyperhidrosis, surgical removal of the sweat glands is performed. It is usually performed in the armpit but severe hand and foot perspiration can also be stopped surgically.

  • Wear light-coloured clothing. It reduces sweat visibility
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to allow air to circulate near to your skin
  • Be careful of wearing polyester, silk and artificial fibres. These can cling to the skin and restrict air flow
  • Wear clothing shields and natural fibres
  • A daily bath or shower lowers the amount of bacteria formed on the skin
  • Alternate and air out shoes
  • Use antiperspirants in the evening
  • Walk barefoot when possible
  • Change socks or pantyhose twice a day
  • Stay away from foods that cause you to sweat as well as foods with strong odour such as onions and garlic
  • Drink lots of water to replenish any moisture loss and to prevent dehydration


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