Hyperhidrosis describes the condition of excessive sweating, a common disorder affecting approximately 2-3 percent of Americans. There are many types of hyperhidrosis, but the two most common types are:
- axillary hyperhidrosis, which is the excessive sweating of the underarms and usually begins in late adolescence
- palmoplantar hyperhidrosis, which is the excessive sweating of the palms and the soles of the feet and could begin in patients as young as 13.
Those with hyperhidrosis deal with embarrassment, discomfort, and even problems driving, as the sweating of their palms makes gripping a steering wheel difficult.
Causes of Hyperhidrosis
Most of the time, hyperhidrosis occurs in patients who are otherwise very healthy. Sometimes neurologic, endocrine (based on the network of glands in your body that produce hormones to keep the body functioning), infectious, or other systemic diseases can be the cause, and other times people experience hyperhidrosis due to heat or emotions. However, most who suffer from hyperhidrosis experience sweating at all hours, regardless of mood or temperature.
Treatments for Hyperhidrosis
Treatments for hyperhidrosis have included over-the-counter antiperspirants, prescription strength antiperspirants, a treatment called Iontophoresis, which uses direct electricity to pass ionized tap water through the skin to temporarily disable the sweat gland, oral medications, Botox, and now miraDry®.
- Over-the-counter antiperspirants usually contain aluminum or another low dose of metal salt and are usually the first attempt at treating hyperhidrosis, since they’re easily accessible.
- Prescription strength antiperspirants are usually the next step. Most doctors will recommend a prescription strength version of aluminum chloride called Drysol, which patients apply two to three nights in a row before bedtime and usually once a week thereafter. While this treatment generally works well for underarm hyperhidrosis, it is less effective for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and can cause irritation.
- Iontophoresis has been around for 50 years as a treatment for hyperhidrosis and is thought to work by temporarily blocking the sweat duct using an electric current. The treatments usually begin as frequently as a few times a week for 10-20 minutes per session with a maintenance program to follow based on the patient’s response. The treatments are not painful and are sometimes covered by insurance. This is an ongoing treatment to reduce sweating.
- Oral medications include drugs like gycopyrrolate, or Robinul, but are not commonly used because of side effects like dry mouth, dry skin, blurred vision, and urinary retention.
- Botox®, which you might recognize as a treatment for fine lines and wrinkles, can also treat excessive sweating due to hyperhidrosis with injections to the armpit. The FDA has not approved Botox® for the treatment of hands and feet, and this treatment is not permanent, as it usually lasts for about 3-6 months depending on the amount injected and overtime can become costly.
- miraDry® is a treatment for hyperhidrosis of underarms that we offer at WIFH. Using microwave energy, miraDry® targets sweat glands. miraDry® treatments can take up to 30 minutes per underarm. Patients sometimes return for a second treatment after three months or more to achieve even better results.
miraDry® for Hyperhidrosis
If you suffer from the embarrassing and uncomfortable symptoms of hyperhidrosis, come into WIFH for a free consultation to find out more about miraDry® and whether or not the treatment is right for you.