Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, is very common. In fact, most of you know someone who constantly has sweaty palms or armpits, or whose face is drenched in sweat after a short walk to Starbucks nearby to get a coffee regardless of the weather.
Excessive sweating usually happens in palms, armpits, soles and face. It can be distressing and can have serious impact on your life. Some avoid social contact with others because of the embarrassment. Some constantly appear anxious during important meetings because of sweaty forehead.
There are several ways to treat excessive sweating. However, treatment can be challenging and it may take a while to discover the best treatment for you.
Most treatment aims to block the function of sweat glands.
1) Topical treatment (things you apply directly to the skin)
There are many anti-perspirant products available over-the-counter. They contain certain chemicals that block your sweat glands but they do not work for everyone. They can cause irritation and itching to the skin if used frequently or in large amount, creating more problems for you. Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor if you suffer from excessive sweating.
2) Oral treatment
Yes, there are oral medications available for treatment of excessive sweating (available by prescription only). They block a chemical in your body (acetylcholine) that contributes to sweating. The ones available in Singapore are oxybutynin and propantheline bromide.
Oxybutynin is most commonly used in Singapore. Studies have shown that it successfully treated excessive sweating in about 80% of people after 12 weeks of treatment. How long it takes to work varies in different people: some after a few doses, some after a few weeks. It typically takes about 1-2 hours after ingestion of the tablet to have the effect of reduced sweating.
A lot of people like taking oral treatment because it is easy and flexible. Some like the fact that the effect is reversible, meaning it does not stop you from sweating permanently. The effect wears off after about 6-8 hours.
Oxybutynin does have side effects such as dry mouth and constipation. Therefore, it is very important to consult a doctor to have a discussion regarding the dosage and potential side effects before taking this medicine. It is usually started at a low dose and adjusted upwards depending on the effectiveness and the side effects. Most people tolerate this medicine very well.
Botox injection can usually be given in the face or armpits that are affected by excessive sweating. Around 15-20 injections may be needed. The effect lasts for 4-6 months, after which time the treatment can be repeated if necessary.
Surgery is usually the last resort if conservative treatment does not work. There are several surgical methods available. Please consult a surgeon if a surgical treatment is needed.
While you are trying out medical treatment, you can also incorporate some of these home remedies to reduce sweating.
1) Wear clothes made of light, breathable fabrics such as cotton and silk. Avoid wearing heavy clothes that will trap sweat.
2) Cut down on coffee, tea and chocolate (We know this is hard!).
3) Avoid spicy food and alcohol
4) Bathe or shower daily, using mild antibacterial cleanser.
5) Manage your stress. Stress can cause sweating, and excessive sweating can cause stress. Join a yoga club, or just set aside a little time every day to relax and meditate.
6) Tomato juice and wheatgrass juice! Try taking one to two glasses of fresh tomato juice or wheatgrass juice a day.
7) Honey and apple cider vinegar. Take a mixture of one table spoon of honey and one tea spoon of apple cider vinegar two to three times a day.
If you or someone you know suffer from excessive sweating, please consult a doctor early to get a proper assessment. You may require blood tests to exclude underlying health problems that cause excessive sweating. Seek help early, and you can be cured!