For some people however, regardless of the weather, excess sweating can be a real problem. We call this hyperhidrosis. It usually involves the palms and soles as well as under the arms. Hyperhidrosis can be very disabling, imagine not being able to shake hands when meeting someone new or contaminating paper or work materials with excess moisture. It can affect children as well as adults, with children finding themselves in trouble at school for messy work or the subject of bullying. Wearing loose fitting clothing, antiperspirants and frequent clothing changes only help in more mild cases.
Fortunately there are ways to reduce this problem! Here at the Skin Hospital we have dedicated hyperhidrosis clinics. After ruling out any secondary causes for the excess sweating there are a number of treatments that can be tried. These begin with simple measures including applying 20% aluminium chloride to the affected areas. If this fails sometimes tablets can be tried. For those not wanting tablets, iontophoresis is a method of reducing sweating by passing an electrical current through the skin (don’t worry it doesn’t hurt!) to block the sweat glands but it needs to be repeated regularly. Finally a more recent addition to our armamentarium of hyperhidrosis treatment is botulinum toxin (Botox) injections into the affected skin. Fortunately for patients meeting particular criteria this is now Medicare subsidised and provides a more effective method of reducing unwanted hyperhidrosis.
Dr Amy Kline
4th Year Dermatology Registrar