With roughly 3% of Americans suffering from hyperhidrosis, and even higher numbers in other countries, it is clear that excessive sweating is a big problem. It is also evident that this caliber of sweating can have a massive impact on a sufferer’s quality of life. Several studies have found a significant correlation between a hyperhidrosis diagnosis and a lower quality of life, especially when symptoms are not well managed. One study found that people diagnosed with hyperhidrosis often report issues like work limitations, social disturbances, and trouble with recreational activities as a result of their excessive sweating. This explains the relationship between hyperhidrosis and anxiety: the symptoms of hyperhidrosis cause anxiety and, in turn, the symptoms of anxiety produce increased sweating and discomfort, leading to more anxiety. So, what can be done to break this cycle? There are many medical options available to treat anxiety, but often the most effective treatments are lifestyle changes and natural practices that can reduce stress, and thereby reduce sweating. Some of these practices include the use of hypnosis, meditation, biofeedback and yoga to break the cycle of sweating and stressing.
It is always a good idea to manage hyperhidrosis with a doctor if symptoms intensify enough to greatly reduce quality of life, but these techniques offer a great add-on that can benefit people both physically and psychologically. They can also be utilized in conjunction with other alternative methods used to manage hyperhidrosis if someone prefers to treat their condition naturally.
Hypnosis is a practice that uses trance states to access repressed and unconscious parts of the psyche to control physiology that is not possible in the ordinary conscious, waking state. It is often used to help people regulate emotions, and deal with issues that are deeply ingrained. When a person is said to be in a trance, it means their brain has shifted into a low alpha or theta range of brainwave activity. This happens naturally when a person is deeply absorbed in reading a book, or watching a movie. So, a hypnotist is taking a naturally occurring state and using it to help a person process information, change ingrained patterns of behavior, and calm certain physiologic systems. Medical hypnosis is a specific type of hypnosis used to help people with medical conditions heal, both physiologically and psychologically. As a specific treatment for hyperhidrosis, hypnosis has had varied results. It has been found that hypnotic suggestion and autogenic training may be useful for hyperhidrosis patients when used in addition to other medical treatments. Hypnosis does not appear to alleviate the physical symptoms of hyperhidrosis, however, it may help an individual deal with anxiety caused by the condition. A good resource that can be used to find a qualified hypnotist is The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), their information can be found at www.asch.net. This type of treatment may be especially beneficial to hyperhidrosis patients who suffer from stress sweating.
Meditation has been used as a stress reduction technique, in various ways, for hundreds of years. As in hypnosis, meditation requires a person to enter into a trance state. However, this trance is achieved by a person focusing their attention and breathing. There are several effective ways in which a person can meditate and which method a person chooses depends on personal preference. In one study, psoriasis patients patients underwent either PUVA light treatment or UVB light treatment. Half of the patients were randomly assigned to use mindfulness meditation during their treatment while the other half was not told to. It was found that the groups assigned to meditate reached a clear point (resolution of their psoriasis) significantly more rapidly than the control group. While the effect of meditation has not been studied as closely in hyperhidrosis patients, it still offers promising results. It has been found that lower rates of stress and anxiety can help patients reduce the amount of sweat they produce as blood vessels dilate during relaxation and the body spends less time in a reactive state. Using meditation on a regular basis can help people with hyperhidrosis control and regulate the body’s natural stress reaction which can, in turn, help them to manage their sweat and reduce its production.
Biofeedback therapy is one of the most exciting natural remedies that can help those with hyperhidrosis lower their sweat production. It is a type of therapy in which a person is connected to a machine that monitors their breathing rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, sweating and temperature. The person is able to see how these physiological processes change based on how they feel and what they do. Over time, a person can learn to re-regulate the physiological processes that are being monitored. This can be an especially beneficial therapy to those suffering from hyperhidrosis because the use of a galvanic skin resistance (GSR) device that can specifically monitor the amount of sweat a person is producing. This allows a hyperhidrosis patient to see, in real-time, how their body is reacting to different emotional states and what actions they can take to effectively reduce sweating. Not only can biofeedback assist in reducing anxiety but it also allows a patient to understand their mind-body connection so that they can use it to their advantage. Patients can expect to see differences in sweating after practicing biofeedback daily for 15 to 30 minutes within three to six months. Biofeedback can be used to manage hyperhidrosis at home in order to make it more convenient. It is a practice that takes dedication and determination, but it can effectively reduce sweating naturally and at a relatively low cost.
The use of relaxation techniques, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments, can be life changing for some people with hyperhidrosis. Reducing stress can also lower the amount of night sweats and stress sweat attacks that individuals suffer. Finding a way to stay calm amidst the chaos of life can help people both physically and psychologically and it should be considered an important part of person’s treatment plan.
- Kamudoni, P., Mueller, B., Halford, J., Schouveller, A., Stacey, B., & Salek, M. S. (2017). The impact of hyperhidrosis on patients' daily life and quality of life: A qualitative investigation. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 15, 121. doi:I 10.1186/s12955-017-0693-x
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
- Shenefelt, P. D. (2017). Use of Hypnosis, Meditation, and Biofeedback in Dermatology. Clinics in Dermatology. doi:10.1016/J.clindermatol.2017.01.007