Is There a Cure for Hyperhidrosis?

As much as 3% of the population suffers from the excessive sweating that categorizes hyperhidrosis. Is there a cure?
Is There a Cure for Hyperhidrosis?

The short answer to this question is “no”. However, there are many treatments available today that make the condition manageable for most people who have it. There is also a tremendous amount of research and future treatments for hyperhidrosis that are being developed in order to solve this problem. There are two main types of hyperhidrosis, primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Secondary hyperhidrosis typically has a sudden onset in adulthood, and there is usually a cause for excessive sweating that doctors are able to ascertain. Unfortunately, doctors don’t fully understand the etiology of primary focal hyperhidrosis. Interestingly, patients with primary focal hyperhidrosis have sweat glands that are anatomically the same as the average person. Their sweat glands are the same size as an average person, and they have the same amount. It has also been found that the sweat glands of individuals with hyperhidrosis function properly. The problem is that people with hyperhidrosis have overactive sweat glands. It is thought that a problem with the sympathetic nervous system, which the body uses to activate sweat glands, may be the cause of hyperhidrosis. This understanding is relatively new, and more research needs to be done in order to confirm it. If this is the case, then a cure, or at least a very effective treatment option, could be found in the foreseeable future.[1]

Current Treatment Options

While an exact cure is not currently on the table, there are many treatment options available to those with hyperhidrosis. Some of them treat the condition so effectively that patients only have mild symptoms, or none at all. Regrettably, many of the most effective treatments are expensive and only covered by some insurance plans. The cost of hyperhidrosis treatment can be a concern for many people when they are choosing a treatment plan that is right for them.

The type of treatment an individual needs is most often based on their specific problem areas. Most people with primary focal hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweating in the axillae, palms, soles, face, and occasionally, other parts of the body.[1] Patients might only experience excessive sweating in one location or they might have several problem areas. Below is a list of the treatments that are currently available to treat hyperhidrosis:

  • Over-the-counter topical treatments: Most topical treatments are antiperspirants, and there are many formulations available. Some antiperspirants are for areas like the face and groin which are sensitive, and others are stronger for areas that are extremely sweat prone and tougher, like the hands and soles. It is important to note that antiperspirant differs from deodorant, as antiperspirant prevents sweat from forming while deodorant kills bacteria and masks the smell of body odor.
  • Iontophoresis for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis: This type of treatment is noninvasive and can be done at home. It does require patients to devote a large amount of time to consistently do the therapy. Iontophoresis really does work and it is a good choice for those with sweaty hands and feet.
  • Botox: Botox for axillary hyperhidrosis is approved by the FDA and is highly effective. It is also used to treat palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis, and treatments only need to be repeated every six to twelve months.
  • Oral medications for hyperhidrosis: Several types of oral medications are available to reduce excess sweating in hyperhidrosis patients. Unfortunately, many medicines cause side effects that may make them a less desirable option.
  • Local Permanent Treatment Options for Axillary Hyperhidrosis: There are a variety of procedures that can be done specifically to the armpit that enable a patient to experience permanent relief from excessive sweating in that area. These are a great option for someone with severe underarm sweating, but can be cost prohibitive.[2]
  • In the last few years there have been several advances in the treatment of hyperhidrosis. New and improved ingredients for antiperspirants have been discovered, many of the local procedures for the permanent treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis came out, and other new treatment options are just around the corner. In 2018, a company released a new product called Qbrexza that has the potential to improve the topical treatments available for hyperhidrosis.[3] There is hope for a cure, but until then, there is also hope for better treatments with less side effects.

    Research for the Future

    The pathophysiology of hyperhidrosis needs to be better understood in order for researchers to develop a cure. Specifically, research that looks into the relationship between the sympathetic nervous system and overactive sweat glands could be an excellent place to start.[1] However, it will likely be some time before this occurs. There are treatments currently in development that will improve the outcomes for people with hyperhidrosis, if they are approved and able to infiltrate the market. Much of this future research involves treatments that are able to reduce sweating caused by hyperhidrosis locally. These types of treatments are advantageous due to the fact that they do not cause systemic side effects and because they are often able to permanently stop sweating. Most of the treatment advances have been focused on using energy, in various forms, to disrupt sweat glands and prevent them from producing excess sweat. So far, these types of treatments have been most successful in treating axillary hyperhidrosis.[2] Hopefully, as time goes on and more research is done, hyperhidrosis will become a better recognized condition and a cure will be found. Currently, hyperhidrosis is under diagnosed and under reported due to stigma and a lack of understanding that permeates the medical community. There are efforts underway to change this and as medical professionals become better educated, hyperhidrosis will be better understood and more effective treatments will come about.

    Sources
    1. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science.
    2. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    3. Qbrexza. (2018). Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://dermira.com/our-medicines/
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