Have you ever had a friend or patient complain about their excessive sweating? Despite the fact that millions of people suffer from this condition there is a general lack of awareness about it. This is probably due to the embarrassing and isolating nature of the condition. The good news is that more individuals are being diagnosed and treated appropriately and improving their quality of life.
What is Axillary Hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excess sweating. In this condition overactive sweat glands release a larger volume of sweat than is the body’s usual requirements for cooling.
The cause of severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis is generally unknown however a genetic link is likely. Sweating is often exacerbated by stress at work or in social situations and is worse in warm weather but also occurs in cold climates. Other stimulants such as caffeine and exercise can be triggers.
Axillary Hyperhidrosis can be extremely embarrassing and can affect the daily life of affected individuals. Clothing can become visibly damp and stained and wet skin areas are prone to chafing and dermatitis as well as secondary infection. The condition can be socially embarrassing for sufferers and can impact their ability to function at work and to interact with people in social situations.
What treatment options are available?
- Readily available antiperspirants can be helpful however clinical strength antiperspirants containing aluminium chloride hexahydrate such as Driclor or Rexona Clinical protection (available from pharmacies) are more likely to offer a solution.
- Injectable treatments. Injections with Botulinum toxin type A into the axilla are available for those in whom clinical strength antiperspirants are not tolerated or are ineffective. The injectable medication is available on the PBS which means the cost of the medication is covered by the government. A referral from a general practitioner to a dermatologist or other specialist who performs these injections is required. Little or no anaesthesia is required and complete or near cessation of sweating lasts approximately 6 months.
- Microwave thermolysis. A non-invasive treatment known as the MiraDry system reduces the sweat glands permanently offering a more permanent solution to excess sweating. This is available at limited clinics and at this stage is not funded by Medicare.
- Surgery is usually considered a last resort but overactive sweat glands can be removed by several methods including curettage or liposuction.
So what is the take home message on excess sweating?
Severe underarm sweating is a debilitating medical condition. Effective treatments are available and sufferers should be encouraged to speak to a dermatologist for advice.
If you would like to make contact with the Australasian College of Dermatologists you may do so via the following contact details:
Telephone: (02) 8741 4101