Managing Your Sweat

Looking for how to get rid of your sweaty hands, feet, or other body parts? Although hyperhidrosis cannot be completely cured, several treatment options exist to help you manage your sweat.
causes of excessive sweating

Around the world, an estimated 365 million people suffer from hyperhidrosis. Simply explained, hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes an individual to sweat excessively regardless of environmental triggers such as heat. Do you know how to tell if you have hyperhidrosis? [1]

Whereas a person without hyperhidrosis will sweat in reaction to environmental triggers to regulate the human body’s temperature, the underlying genetic (Primary Hyperhidrosis) or medical (Secondary Hyperhidrosis) circumstances that cause hyperhidrosis create an excessive amount of sweat that can range in severity from simply uncomfortable to medically invasive. From uncomfortably sweaty hands that lead to embarrassing handshakes, to profuse sweating on the feet that can cause serious infections, hyperhidrosis poses a significant problem to individuals across all ages. [1]

Trying to figure out how to get rid of your sweaty hands, feet, or other body parts? Although hyperhidrosis cannot be completely cured, several treatment options exist to help you manage your sweat. For years, hyperhidrosis was largely overlooked by both the research and clinical branches of medical professionals. However, there are currently several treatments, procedures, and even surgeries as a result of increased research and development that can provide individuals with much needed relief.

Managing Hyperhidrosis with a Doctor

Fortunately, dermatologists stand prepared with a myriad of treatment options to help manage your hyperhidrosis with a doctor.

Prescriptions:

As the first line of defense, your dermatologist may write you a prescription for a topical cream​or a pill. Topical creams that include a sweat-blocking aluminum solution like aluminum chloride or aluminum sesquichlorohydrate will reduce the amount of sweat that can exit the pores when applied to the skin of specific problem area. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication for hyperhidrosis like a pill series of pills known as anticholinergics​that prohibit the signalling chemical acetylcholine from delivering messages to certain nerve receptors. [2] By blocking these receptors, the sweat glands will receive fewer synapses from the brain that cause the sweat glands to produce excessive sweat. [2]

Iontophoresis Sessions:

Iontophoresis is a treatment for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis that involves running a mild electrical current into the body that temporarily blocks the sweat glands from producing sweat. [3] In iontophoresis sessions, the affected part of the body is placed in water, and the currents are administered over a 20 to 40 minute period. Iontophoresis sessions must occur on a regular basis (typically weekly), and it may take up to ten sessions before the sweating is noticeably reduced. [3] Since the affected part of the body must be submerged in water, iontophoresis is most effective when used to alleviate

Surgery:

If your hyperhidrosis symptoms cannot be reduced by prescription medicine or iontophoresis, your dermatologist may recommend a surgical treatment for primary focal hyperhidrosis to reduce your sweating. These procedures range from minimally invasive, such as botox treatment for hyperhidrosis, to significantly invasive procedures such as an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy​or an endoscopic lumbar sympathectomy. [1] Although invasive surgical intervention should only be attempted after less invasive methods have proven themselves ineffective, surgery can provide a significant reduction in excessive sweating in a specific area for the most serious cases of hyperhidrosis.

Managing Hyperhidrosis at Home

Over the Counter Topical Treatments:

Before seeking a prescription medicine to manage hyperhidrosis, you may want to try an over-the-counter topical treatment for hyperhidrosis. Currently, there are several topical creams and solutions that contain lower percentages of the same aluminum compounds found in prescription creams that can be purchased both online and retail settings.

Iontophoresis Sessions with a Personal Iontophoresis Machine:

Although iontophoresis sessions may be performed at a doctor’s office, many individuals opt to purchase their own iontophoresis machines and conduct iontophoresis treatments at home.

The upfront cost of an iontophoresis machine is typically hundreds of dollars, but the advantages to this method include convenience and an eventual decrease in cost from avoiding the pay-per-session model of iontophoresis at a doctor’s office.

Managing Hyperhidrosis with Non-Medical Methods

In addition to tradition medical approaches, there are many ways to manage hyperhidrosis at home and ways to manage hyperhidrosis via alternative methods. Individuals can​take several actions around their exercise routines, choice in clothing, and daily habits to reduce their sweat.​Athletic approaches like yoga can help alleviate sweat through specific poses and stretches. Selecting clothing that allows the body to breathe, always wearing dry socks, and alternating various pairs of shoes can help curb the effects and production of sweat. Establishing a consistent routine of applying antiperspirants at the same time each day can prove to be a powerful means to reduce excessive sweating as well.

Use Clothing to Conceal and Control Your Sweat

What you wear can really make a difference! Wearing breathable fabrics can reduce sweating and allow for ventilation when it inevitably does occur. These are clothes made from cotton and natural fibers that are lightweight and airy. It can also be helpful to wear moisture-wicking workout clothes when appropriate. Make use of the wide array of products available on the market today.

Use the color of your clothing to mask sweat throughout the day. This means wearing darker colors and bold patterns so that sweat stains are less visible. Specifically, colors like black, charcoal, pale pink and navy blue are all solid choices. Avoid wearing colors like light gray that make sweat stains more obvious. Bold patterns will also diffuse the appearance of sweat stains so try a plaid or floral design.

The shape of your clothing can prevent or greatly minimize outward stains. For women, think about wearing shirts with loose fitting armpits and flowy blouses. These are comfortable and will make it harder for moisture to reach your clothing. For men, consider wearing an absorbent undershirt to soak up moisture before it reaches the outer layer of your clothes. For all over sweating, loose clothing that does not cling to the skin is a must - think flowy dresses for women and loose-fit pants or shorts for men.

If you are finding that you are soaking through clothes daily then there is another solution available. There are pads specifically made to soak up underarm sweat. These conveniently adhere to garments and can be used in cases where you know other measures may just not be enough. You can also use special powders on your feet to prevent moisture build up and irritation.

Sometimes sweat is just going to happen, so bring back up clothes! If you know you are going to be in a situation where sweating is inevitable, bring a change of clothes to keep in your car or bag. You can also keep a stash of helpful products like absorbent pads, antiperspirants, and a towel.

Protect Your Feet

Feet are the foundation of your body so it is essential to keep them dry and well cared for. Try wearing shoes made of fabric as these are more breathable and less stifling. You should also invest in moisture wicking socks that are lightweight, especially when working out! For those times when you must wear shoes that make you sweat you can try special sole inserts that soak up extra sweat and reduce slipping. Don’t let the skin on your feet become irritated as this can lead to wounds, infections are many more preventable problems.

Learn to Relax and Take Care of Your Body

Although hyperhidrosis is a physical condition, your emotional state can have an impact on how it affects you day to day. The more aroused your nervous system is the more likely you are to sweat excessively. There are a variety of techniques you can use to calm your mind and slow down your sweat. Some of these include mindfulness, deep breathing, stretching and exercises like yoga. All of these activities are grounding and give your mind and body and chance to slow down and reset. Relaxing activities can be used as both a preventative measure and as a way to stop or reduce sweating once it has already begun.

Another alternative method used to manage hyperhidrosis is diet. What you eat and drink can help or hinder hyperhidrosis symptoms. Try to avoid triggers like spicy foods, fatty processed foods, alcohol and caffeine. Spicy foods can trick your body into thinking your temperature is rising and highly processed foods are hard to digest and can increase sweating. Both alcohol and caffeine increase sweat production because of the way they work in the body. Also, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and keep your body in a balanced state.

Sources
  1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Amsterdam: Elsevier Pub. Co., 2014. Retrieved
  2. Symposium on Anticholinergic Drug and Brain Functions in Animals,and Man. (1968). In Bradley P. B. (Ed.), Anticholinergic drugs and brain functions in animals and man Amsterdam, New York etc.] Elsevier Pub. Co., 1968. Retrieved
  3. Scifers, James R, DScPT, PT, SCS,L.A.T., A.T.C., Lewandowski, Jeff, DPT, PT, SCS,A.T.C., M.T.C., O'Brien, Matthew, PhD, LAT, ATC, & Watts, Jay, RPh,F.A.C.A., F.A.C.V.P. (2013). Iontophoresis. Athletic Training & Sports Health Care, 5(3), 103-105. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.duke.edu/10.3928/19425864-20130509-03
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