Sweating is a very important way for the body to lose heat. However, people with hyperhidrosis produce sweat in amounts far greater than needed and this can have a profound effect on their daily lives, including their confidence.
There are two main types of hyperhydrosis:
- Focal hyperhidrosis is the more common type involving excessive sweating on the feet, hands and in about 30 - 40% of cases, the armpits. Botolium is recommended for the treatment of focal hyperhidrosis affecting the armpits when other treatments have not worked.
- Generalised hyperhidrosis affects the whole body. It is much less common and is usually caused by another illness such as an infection, diabetes or when the thyroid gland is overactive. The excessive sweating usually stops when the illness is treated.
How common is hyperhidrosis?
It has been estimated that up to 1% of the population has some form of hyperhidrosis. It usually starts during the teens and twenties.
What are the causes of hyperhidrosis?
It is caused by over activity of one type of sweat gland, the eccrine gland. These are found all over the body surface but are concentrated on the palms, the soles of the feet and the armpits. Triggers to normal sweating are many and the same is true for hyperhidrosis. The difference however, is the amount of sweating.
Examples of these triggers can include:
- Alcohol, coffee or tea, smoking, hot or spicy food
- Stress, anxiety or strong emotions
People with hyperhidrosis can produce a large volume of sweat. This means that the hands, feet, chest or armpits may be constantly damp. This can make day-to-day activities difficult to carry out and can cause embarrassment at work or socially. However, it is important to note that hyperhidrosis does not cause body odour as this is caused by bacteria if sweat remains in the area for a long time.
What can I do about hyperhidrosis?
There are a number of self-help precautions that you can take if you suffer from hyperhidrosis. This includes:
- Choose clothing that will keep you cool.
- Keep your work area cool and well ventilated.
- Avoid the food and drinks that trigger sweating. These will vary for different people but you will probably know what causes problems for you.
- Reduce stress, tension and anxiety. Think about how you can reduce stress during the day, plan your activities carefully and make time to relax.
- Pay attention to your personal hygiene. Taking frequent showers can reduce odour but is not perhaps very convenient forsome.
What is Botulinum toxin and how does it work?
It is a treatment given by injection into the skin. It is recommended for the treatment of hyperhidrosis in the armpits.
Botulinum Toxin is a very pure preparation of a protein, Botulinum toxin type A. When small doses are injected into the skin, Bo.tox blocks the action of the nerves that supply the glands that produce sweat. Bo.tox will block the nerve endings but over time new nerve endings do grow to replace them. The effect of treatment last for several months but eventually it will wear off and repeat treatment is required.
What happens during treatment?
Using a very fine needle, a small amount of Botulinum toxin is injected into 20 to 30 places, spread evenly across the armpit. A course of treatment takes about 30 minutes.
How quickly does it work and how long will the effects last?
You should notice a positive change within a week; responses do though vary between patients.
In a clinical trial, sweat production was reduced by 83% one week after treatment. Furthermore, sweating was reduced by at least half in 95% of patients. Your next treatment can be given when the effects of the first course wear off, this usually happens after 4 to 6 months. Your doctor will advise you about when to return for further treatment.