Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) is sometimes linked to diseases that cause fever or thyroid disorders that affect the endocrine system. However, when sweating is focal (localized to specific areas of the body such as the hands, feet, and armpits), it is caused by a problem with the parasympathetic nervous system. These nerves help control the activity of many glands in the body – including sweat glands. For people with focal hyperhidrosis, the signals the nervous system sends are out of proportion to the body’s actual need to sweat to cool off. These individuals may sweat continuously, but the problem is often worse in hot weather or during periods of emotional stress. The liberal use of antiperspirant is usually the first line of therapy. There are also several other remedies for this condition:
Armpit Sweating Treatments
Botox is one option for sweaty armpits. These injections block nerve activity and keep the sweat glands from being hyperactive. The toxin wears off over time and injections must generally be repeated every few months. There may be some post-procedure swelling and discomfort.
The sweat glands may be physically removed using an approach similar to liposuction. The glands are suctioned out through small incisions in the armpit. This is done on an outpatient basis and entails minimal downtime. The treatment does not eliminate sweating altogether, but has been shown to significantly reduce excessive sweating. Hyperhidrosis does recur in some patients, but this is apparently not typical.
Lasers such as the YAG are now being investigated for their ability to damage sweat glands without invasive surgery. The process is similar to hair removal, but with more intense settings. The treatment often leaves the armpits sore for a while. Further studies are still needed to determine how long the effects last.
Excessive Sweating of Hands & Feet
Iontophoresis is a treatment that involves immersing the hands and feet in water that has a moderate to high mineral content. A mild electrical current is run through the water. This appears to cause the top layers of skin to thicken slightly, blocking sweat from reaching the surface.
An invasive therapy called an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) is also available from some surgeons. This is generally only attempted as a last resort since it involves severing the nerves that signal the sweat glands. There are greater risks associated with ETS than with other hyperhidrosis therapies since it involves the use of full anesthesia and it is possible for the wrong nerves to be cut accidentally. Side effects of successful treatment can include increased sweating on other areas of the body and difficulty regulating body temperature.
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