I know why you are reading this article...
Because, but of course, you sweat a lot.
In addition you are always embarrassed to sit or even stand next to someone because of the puddle of sweat you create near you.
You fear that by the time you reach your office you must’ve already started stinking!
And to top it off, you get stared at because when everyone else is as dry as a bone, you are sparkling like silver glitter.
I completely understand and sympathize with all of you who have “Excessive Sweating”. And in order to ease out your concern and answer the questions you have in your mind, here are few things you should know about sweating:
The medical lingo is Hyperhidrosis
(Hyper: Excessive , Hidrosis: Excessive perspiration/ sweating)
It occurs because of the over activity of the Eccrine glands (Sweat glands) in the skin and thus is termed as Eccrine Hyperhidrosis (overactive sweat glands)
Eccrine Hyperhidrosis has 3 more types:
Then there is a completely different entity called as Emotional Sweating.
I have confused you, haven’t I? Worry not, I am going to simplify it for you.
Secondary generalised hyperhidrosis occurs in certain diseased conditions (of the brain and spinal cord, Diabetes Mellitus, Thyroid disorders, ). I am not going to be discussing those diseased conditions here because they come under a different speciality of medicine and the treatment is primarily given by Physicians/Neurologists.
Almost all people who come to me for treatment are either patients of primary generalised hyperhidrosis or are patients of emotional sweating.
Primary Generalised Hyperhidrosis is usually inherited, starts around adolescence or childhood where sweating is seen all over the body and usually has a family history. It may decrease as age progresses or may remain throughout life.
Why does this happen?
The commonest ‘triggers’ of generalised excessive sweating are:
Yes, remember those times when you started sweating just before your presentation or in a meeting or when you were on a date or when you were just sitting alone and thinking? Anxious individuals have an overactive sympathetic drive (related to the nervous system ). A slightest provocation (happiness, sadness, anger etc) can throw the body into an overdrive and create excess sweat.
Excessive sweating occurs especially post fever as the temperature lowers down.
3. SPICY FOOD
All those spicy food lovers out there, even a bite of very spicy food can send you into a profound bout of an embarrassing sweat.
4. EXCESSIVE COFFEE CONSUMPTION
1 or 2 cups of coffee usually don’t harm. But it is constant drinking throughout the day that can induce uncontrollable sweating.
Gain in weight can trigger excessive. So if you have gained weight then that could be the reason why the sweating has increased. The Fat in the body acts like insulation and that raises the core temperature of the body. This rise in temperature triggers the sweating.
Now, let’s move on to the next type of sweating.
Have you ever experienced not being able to hold a pen in your hand while giving your exams because your palms were dripping with sweat? Have you slipped in our own chappals because your soles were so sweaty that there was almost a puddle that was created inside your chappals? Were you embarrassed because you wore this lovely dress but your underarms had this big blot of sweat?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then you are suffering from Emotional Hyperhidrosis.
This, I believe is the commonest complaint that people come to me with. Sweating happens when they are emotionally driven (angry, sad or even happy). And it tends to magically disappear during sleep and when they are relaxing. Again an overactive sympathetic drive is what causes this particular phenomenon.
After I have finished explaining the causes of sweating to people, they almost always get demoralised and ask me this question:
Is there no treatment since anxiety and stress are a part and parcel of everyone’s life these days?
My answer is:
Of course, there is treatment.
There are medical/ surgical treatments available. Iontophoresis (for palmar hyperhidrosis), application of aluminium chlorohydrate lotions, botulinum toxin injections, tumescent liposuction, microwave thermolysis, subdermal ND YAG laser etc can be used. But it is usually the treating dermatologist who decides what treatment would be best suited depending on the type of sweating. These treatments, unfortunately, do not cure but certainly make life more manageable and relatively sweat free.
And there are general measures that can definitely alleviate your symptoms to a good extent:
Wearing clothes which are of cotton and loose fitting. Synthetic and tight fitting clothes are seen to induce more sweating
You could just sprinkle some powder (talc free preferably) every time you sweat. Yes, it sounds inconvenient but a small powder bottle could definitely find a place in your backpack or purse.
Since sweating (especially axillary hyperhidrosis) can cause bad odour I usually encourage patients to use a good quality perfume! I personally feel that deodorants applied to the skin cause more irritation to the skin (in the long run), plus they tend to ‘wash away’ with the sweat. Again, direct application of deo’s (which are actually chemicals) can cause a leeching effect, where these chemicals instead of being washed off are actually absorbed into the skin and cause contact allergic dermatitis. So wearing a good quality perfume which is applied directly onto the clothes you are wearing not only stays longer but this prevents direct chemical contact with your skin.
Though this doesn’t have a direct effect on your sweaty soles, using insoles in your shoes and changing them frequently helps in keeping the shoes cleaner and drier.
Decreasing weight can give you magical results!
Reducing your cups of coffee
And picking up a hobby! Why? Because that is the simplest way you could relieve yourself of stress and anxiety. And the hobby needn’t be time consuming... something as simple as reading a book, listening to music, even becoming a bathroom singer could really help reduce stress levels!
When I do ask people to pick up a hobby, as always I am met with a lot of resistance. ‘ I have no time’, ‘ I come back home late’, ‘ I am too tired’ etc,. In today’s day and age, stresses and tensions are always going to be a part of our lives. But that doesn’t mean we keep making excuses. I’d rather say that since we are always going to be stressed it is our responsibility (and a prime one) that we help find ourselves ways to relieve it. I think for the hard work that we do, we owe ourselves this happiness.
As a stress management expert, Ms Laroche, says and I quote :
"Stressed spelled backwards is Dessert!"
Pic courtesy: www.askideas.com
Sweat it out!... Sweat the stress out!