Persistent underarm sweating when we’re not exercising or hot can be an embarrassing and debilitating condition.
It can isolate us from other people and have a negative impact on our work and relationships. It can feel like it’s ruining our lives.
This excessive underarm sweating is called axilliary hyperhidrosis and it’s a condition which affects around 5% of the population.
Scientists believe it’s caused by a malfunction in the body’s complex nervous system which causes an over activity in otherwise normal sweat glands. Essentially, the body sweats far more than is needed to maintain a normal temperature.
They say a minority of cases may be caused by problems with the body’s central control of emotions.
The condition could also happen because of other underlying medical conditions or as a side-effect from some medications, which should both be ruled out before any treatment.
How does sweating work?
Sweating is essential for the body’s ability to control its temperature.
Moisture is released from the millions of sweat glands in the body.
A sweat gland is a tubular structure with long branches. It has a coiled area and a straight duct-like area.
Sweat, a clear and odourless fluid when it is produced, is stimulated in response to nerve impulses.
A substance called acetylcholine is released from nerve endings and it binds to receptors in the gland’s cells.
When sweat is released, it sits on your skin and evaporates into the air. That cools down the body.
The average normal body temperature is 98.6°F or 37°C.
What can you do to combat the problem?
Anyone suffering from excessive underarm sweating is advised to avoid man-made fabrics like nylon and to wear loose-fitting clothes. Many will have tried special deodorants like Driclor, but unfortunately this doesn’t tend to last long so you still maybe left with patches.
Armpit shields are available to protect clothing, too.
Sufferers are also advised to avoid alcohol and spicy food which can make the condition worse.
However, there is also several treatments available.
Because the underarm area is only one part of the body where there are a number of sweat glands, treatments won’t disrupt the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, but they will help to stop sweat pouring down the sides of the body and staining clothes.
Treatments include medication to reduce sweating, iontophoresis (passing a weak electric current over a wet pad), surgery to remove the underarm sweat glands, or Botox injections which are a useful tool to help people suffering from this condition.
They disrupt the production of acetylcholine so that it isn’t released and doesn’t start the process of sweating. The effects can last between 7 and 14 months.
A consultation with a professional practitioner is vital before you begin any treatment for underarm sweating
So, if this condition is making your life a misery, don’t suffer in silence. There are several things you can do to minimise its effects and treat it but the most effective is Botox® injections.