Beauty Buzz: Excessive sweating — cause and treatments

By Dr. Cheryl Hull, dermatologist and owner of Hull Dermatology

One of the conditions I commonly see is called “hyperhidrosis,” or excessive sweating. We all sweat to regulate our inner body temperature, but too much sweating can be frustrating and embarrassing. It can limit the clothes you choose to wear, may affect your ability to do your job, and can create a lot of social awkwardness.

There are different types of hyperhidrosis, but I’ll focus on one called “primary focal hyperhidrosis.” It’s a true medical condition that occurs on specific parts of the body, with the most commonly effected areas being the underarms, feet, hands, head and face. It usually begins in childhood and there may be a hereditary component.

Available treatments include antiperspirants available as sprays, gels, roll-ons and lotions. The major ingredient in these products is aluminum chloride hexahydrate. The product is applied at bedtime and then washed off the next morning.

Another treatment is oral medications that work to block the stimulation of sweat glands. Since all medications have potential side effects, the benefits must outweigh the risks. These medications are not always very tolerable.

One of the most effective treatments for this condition is the injection of botulinum toxin A. A dilute concentration of this medication is injected into the underarms, hands or feet. The medication blocks the release of a neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) and is an effective treatment that may last four to eight months. I’ve found this to be a very effective treatment for the condition, and I have patients that return regularly for treatments because they find the benefits so rewarding. Insurance will sometimes cover this procedure for this condition.

If you have questions about this condition and the available treatments, talk to your dermatologist.

*This article first appeared on Motherlode in April 2010. For more info on dermatology-related issues, contact Dr. Hull by calling her office at 479-254-9662. “. For more info, click here to visit the Hull Dermatology website.