A Permanent Solution for Excessive Underarm SweatingMedical Aesthetics
It’s a condition with a fancy, scientific name: hyperhidrosis. You likely don’t care what it’s called, however. You just want it to stop — the embarrassment, the odor, the ruined clothing. For all the jokes, for all the medical and scientific names, you just want an effective treatment for heavy armpit sweating.
According to Science Daily, about 2.8 million people suffer from excessive sweating, also called hyperhidrosis. Among those people, about half have excessive underarm sweating. Although hyperhidrosis can affect the entire body, many people are most concerned with excessive underarm sweating. Such perspiration is noticeable and embarrassing for people in all walks of life.
Understanding what causes hyperhidrosis and what you can do about it, both temporarily and permanently, is a great first step in controlling this condition and preventing the embarrassment that accompanies hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis: A Good Thing Gone Wrong
Sweat is our body’s effective means of cooling us down and ensuring the human body maintains the optimal temperature for its systems. Sweat or perspiration is made mostly of water with minute levels of substances such as ammonia, salts, urea and sugar. That’s why your dog likes to lick your bare legs on a hot day — the salts and sugars taste good to his discerning, or not quite-so-discerning, palate.
There are over 2 million sweat glands scattered throughout the human body. The highest concentration of sweat glands is on the soles of the feet, which explains sweaty socks, and on the palms of the hands, which explains why people’s hands are moist when they are nervous. Such glands are called eccrine glands.
There’s another type of sweat gland, however, called the apocrine glands. These are larger than eccrine glands and concentrate sweat, along with some fatty acids, in the underarm and anogenital area. Apocrine glands become active during puberty and are thought to contribute to sexual attraction. The scent produced in the area may be a holdover from our ancient past, a sort of ‘animal attraction’ used by our ancestors to find and attract mates.
Sweat by itself is odorless. However, once it reaches the skin, bacteria interact with the components of sweat to create the telltale odor. For most people, bathing and showering reduce the bacteria so that even with moderate sweat, the odor is kept to a minimum. The application of deodorant also reduces odor.
Underarm perspiration is especially troublesome because proteins and lipids, or fatty acids, are also excreted by the larger apocrine glands. This is why the fabric under your arms on your favorite white shirt eventually acquires a dingy yellow or grayish tint no matter how well you launder it or how much antiperspirant you use – your body’s secretions, bacteria and the ingredients in deodorant and antiperspirants interact to discolor fabric.
Characteristics of Abnormal Perspiration
Everyone experiences times of stress, exertion or heat that causes excessive perspiration. A summer’s day at the beach broiling on the sand can increase perspiration as can a mountain bike ride along a steep trail. Job interviews, an important speech, and any other events that cause stress can also trigger an extreme response from the sweat glands.
There are times, however, when perspiration is excessive. Ask yourself if you have any of the following characteristics of abnormal perspiration:
- Do you sweat even on a cold day? If the room temperature is 65 and you’re dripping with sweat, something is wrong. Sweat cools the body, and, if you’re sweating excessively on cool days or in cool or cold rooms, something could be wrong.
- Do you have to change your shirt several times a day? It is not uncommon for someone suffering from hyperhidrosis to sweat through undershirts, dress shirts, suit jackets and other clothing, necessitating changes of outfits several times a day. This is time-consuming, annoying and expensive since it results in additional loads of laundry or dry-cleaning bills.
- You’re self-conscious about your underarm area. For those who have repeatedly sweated through shirts, blouses, sweaters and jackets, you know how embarrassing it can be to raise your hands and feel a soaking wetness under the arms. Self-consciousness may keep you from doing the things you like to do or participating in sports or other activities.
- Sweat ruins your clothing. Underarm sweat contains additional chemicals that can discolor clothing. Even with the most attentive laundering techniques, special sprays and detergents, you may find yourself throwing clothing away after only a few washings because excessive perspiration has ruined them.
- You go everywhere armed for extra sweat. Not only do you carry extra deodorant, you also know every place along your route for the day where you can stop and change your shirt. You keep extra shirts packed into your car for a quick change. Sounds familiar? When your entire life revolves around keeping your excessive sweating a secret, it’s become a problem.
- You get skin infections or irritations from the wetness: Skin isn’t meant to be wet all the time. Excessive perspiration can cause skin irritation or even infections.
- Over-the-counter products don’t work: You’ve tried deodorants, antiperspirants, special soaps and powders. Nothing controls the wetness and the odor persists.
If these signs seem to be familiar to you, you may have hyperhidrosis. It’s a condition that’s common although rarely talked about.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
The hypothalamus, a region of the brain, controls normal sweating activity. Chemical signs turn “on” sweat glands when you have a fever, run a marathon or walk outside on a hot day. In a normal individual, when you recover from a fever, recover from a marathon or step back into an air-conditioned room, the hypothalamus signals the sweat glands to slow down, cut back and shut off. You stop sweating.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis refers to a condition in which the sweat glands are permanently ‘on’. Although doctors aren’t sure why, in some people, the signal to shut off sweat production is broken or muted. The sweat glands never get the signal to turn off, so you sweat constantly.
Secondary hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating due to an external factor. Certain medications, medical conditions and other factors can cause secondary hyperhidrosis. Secondary usually occurs over the entire body, while primary hyperhidrosis affects the underarms, face, feet and hands.
Although lifestyle changes alone won’t solve the problem of hyperhidrosis, they can help with secondary hyperhidrosis and can sometimes cut back on the number of episodes or the frequency and intensity of perspiration. Certainly these suggestions, while not curing hyperhidrosis, can help you feel better.
Things you can do to reduce the likelihood of excessive perspiration include:
- Avoid triggers foods that make you perspire. Certain spices such as chili peppers, ginger and other foods can cause sweating, as can spicy dishes and cuisines. Some people also find alcohol consumption makes them perspire, too, so try avoiding alcohol to see if it diminishes perspiration.
- Use antiperspirant rather than deodorant, or a combination antiperspirant/deodorant. Remember, it is the bacteria engaging with the perspiration that causes odor. Without perspiration, the odor is reduced naturally.
- Avoid manmade fibers, which do not dry or ‘breathe’ easily. Nylon, rayon and other synthetics hold moisture onto the skin. Cotton and linen are the most ‘breathable’ fibers that allow air to circulate around perspiration areas.
- Wear dress shields, also called armpit shields or cloth dress guards, to absorb perspiration. These can keep it from your clothing and enable you to change shields, rather than shirts, during the day.
- Choose black or white clothing, which minimize signs of sweating, although be aware that white stains easily, and wear loose-fitting clothing that allows air to circulate.
These simple suggestions may boost your confidence while you explore options for reducing or permanently stopping excessive underarm sweating.
Temporary Solution for Excessive Underarm Sweating
For those seeking a temporary solution for excessive underarm sweating, you have several choices.
- Prescription-strength antiperspirants containing aluminum: According to the Hyperhidrosis Society, aluminum temporarily blocks some of the sweat ducts, thus shutting down or slowing secretions. Used over time, metallic salts found in prescription-strength antiperspirants can significantly shut off or slow sweat production.
- Anticholinergic drugs: Anticholinergic drugs block the effects of acetylcholine, the chemical messenger that does, among many other tasks, switch on the sweat glands. Anticholinergic drugs are applied topically, as a cream, to areas that sweat excessively. This sometimes shuts down the sweat glands and reduces excessive perspiration.
Anticholinergic drugs may also be taken orally, especially in the case of hyperhidrosis over large areas of the body. In this case, the drug works internally to mute or shut down the effects of acetylcholine, thus reducing perspiration production. Anticholinergic drugs prescribed for excessive sweating are considered ‘off-label’ uses since the drug is primarily for another medical condition.
- Botox injections: Yes, Botox (botulism toxin) can temporarily reduce excessive sweating, although the Hyperhidrosis Society does not consider it ideal. Problems occur when botulism injections are used repeatedly — the body sometimes produces antibodies to them, making them less effective.
Side effects can include paralysis or loss of feeling in nearby areas, soreness from the injection sites, and the need for multiple injections.
There are other medications that can be prescribed a by a physician to counteract excessive sweating. None of these treatments, however, offer a permanent solution to the problem of excessive underarm sweating.
Some drugs found in deodorants and antiperspirants, both over the counter and prescription strength, can cause irritation, dry skin, and allergic reactions. Anticholinergic drugs can have many side effects, too. Constipation, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, difficulty concentrating and other side effects have been reported.
Long-term use of such medications may not be recommended by your doctor. If you’re leery about using medications for extended periods, then exploring permanent solutions for underarm sweating may be a better option.
Permanent Solutions for Underarm Sweating
There are permanent solutions for underarm sweating. These solutions include surgery to remove excess apocrine glands and laser treatment to shut them down without removing them.
Among permanent solutions to excessive underarm sweating, surgery is one of the most drastic. In this type of surgery, a specific location, such as the underarm, is identified to remove the sweat glands. An incision is made in the underarm skin and the sweat glands are removed through scraping or liposuction. This is considered radical sweat gland removal and is done using local anesthesia, so you are awake but do not feel the procedure.
Laser therapy for hyperhidrosis is the latest among the permanent solutions to excessive underarm sweating that shows great promise. It has a high level of safety, and the precision with which doctors can use the laser ensures that the exact area to be treated is targeted.
To stop excessive underarm sweating permanently, lasers are used to precisely target the sweat glands. Concentrated heat is used to destroy the gland, thus offering a permanent solution to underarm sweat.
Laser therapy for underarm hyperhidrosis is very effective. In one study cited by the International Hyperhidrosis Society, 33 people who received laser therapy for excessive underarm sweating were monitored for six months. These patients were found to have significantly reduced underarm sweating after treatment. Some people did have some side effects such as bruising and swelling, but these were considered minimal.
Follow-up examinations revealed that laser therapy effectively destroyed the sweat glands under the arms. Laser therapy reduced underarm hyperhidrosis by 78 percent. Sweat glands cannot grow back, so the results are permanent.
Treatment for Heavy Armpit Sweating
With several options to choose from, you do not have to suffer from excessive underarm sweating and the embarrassing effects of hyperhidrosis. Treatment for heavy armpit sweating is available and is considered both safe and effective.
Synergy Wellness Center is a spa-like medical aesthetics facility located in Bakersfield, California. Among the many services offered is Precision TX — a laser treatment for heavy armpit sweating. Precision TX is a long-lasting treatment for excessive underarm sweating that can be completed in one or two sessions in our offices.
In Precision TX treatment, a doctor will numb the area and make a small incision. The doctor then uses a precision laser to destroy sweat glands and hair follicles under the armpits. A thermally controlled laser, called Sidelight™, is used to ablate (destroy) overactive apocrine glands.
Results reported for Precision TX treatment include a 90 percent reduction in sweating in just one treatment. Best of all, because the sweat glands are permanently destroyed, it solves your problem of excessive underarm sweating permanently.
Precision TX sessions can be completed in one treatment session right in our office. You can go home the same day, and no one can tell you have had the treatment — except you. You’ll notice the benefits quickly. No more shirts ruined by excessive perspiration. No more embarrassing odor or moisture. Best of all, you will not need a prescription or over-the-counter antiperspirants anymore.
There are very few side effects to Precision TX treatments. During the treatment, you may feel pressure or movement as the laser is used in the underarm area. After the treatment, there may be some minimal swelling or bruising. You’ll be able to resume your normal activities within 24 to 48 hours after Precision TX treatment.
To make an appointment with Synergy Wellness Center for Precision TX, please call us at 661-878-9100. We’ll schedule a consultation so we can review information about Precision TX with you in person and get you started on a new road to personal freedom from hyperhidrosis.