This article is going to deal with an indelicate subject. Hyperhidrosis strikes about 3 percent of the population. Millions of people throughout the world suffer from this embarrassing condition. Let’s drop the fancy medical term, for a moment, and call it what it really is: Excessive sweating. It’s when the body produces more sweat than needed to cool itself.

And don’t think it’s just a baby boomer guy thing. Men and women are affected, according to Dr. Suzanne J. Friedler, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City. Friedler says, “Hyperhidrosis frequently becomes pronounced at puberty when the sweat glands become more active and peaks in the third and fourth decades. However, severe sweating can be seen in childhood, infancy and old age.”

In an e-mail interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Friedler says she sees several patients who suffer from excessive sweating. While it’s more noticeable in summer, most patients experience hyperhidrosis throughout the year.

Don’t think all sweat is bad. You might consider sweating a bodily “thermostat,” designed to cool the body when it overheats – a perfectly normal function. The problem in hyperhidrosis patients, says Friedler, is that “the sweat glands produce excessive amounts of sweat even when the body is at a normal temperature.”

Hyperhidrosis can affect your emotional well being. “Sufferers of severe sweating spend considerable time thinking about and dealing with sweat – changing clothes, ‘freshening up,’ wiping, placing napkins or pads under their arms, bathing and hiding under dark-colored, bulky clothes,” says Friedler, who is a board certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology with expertise in several areas of medical and cosmetic dermatology. Hyperhidrosis can have a huge impact on social interactions. According to Friedler, “Patients commonly report that it ruins their clothing, causes anxiety, and impairs their work and social activities…some people avoid social situations where their sweating could be noticed. Businessmen frequently report avoiding shaking hands, having difficulty with their grip, trouble handling paperwork and constantly carrying a towel to wipe away their excessive sweat.”

Not only can excessive sweating make your daily routine miserable, but complications can prompt you to visit the doctor. Hyperhidrosis, adds Friedler, can cause painful or irritating skin problems, such as bacterial or fungal overgrowth, infections and disintegration of the skin.

Friedler says there are several ways to combat this debilitating condition. “Treatments include prescription-strength anti-perspirants, iontophoresis, which uses an electrical current to disrupt sweat activity, Botox injections, and in the most challenging cases, oral anticholinergic medications; even surgery to cut the sympathetic nerves.”

Botox, says Friedler, is FDA approved for the treatment of severe underarm sweating, which is known as severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis. Friedler says, “most of my patients report that the treatment is pain free and that they are very satisfied with the results.” One clinical study, according to Friedler, involved 322 patients with severe underarm sweating. “81 percent of the patients receiving Botox injections achieved a greater than 50 percent reduction in sweating, and 50 percent of the patients had their excessive sweating relieved for at least 201 days.”

If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, check with your dermatologist. Friedler says dermatologists are specially trained to diagnose and treat excessive sweating. Others who may treat the condition include primary care physicians, family practitioners, internists, neurologists and surgeons.

Don’t be afraid to bring up your issue with a medical specialist. Friedler says experts in hyperhidrosis evaluation and treatment can be found through the International Society of Hyperhidrosis’s physician finder at www.sweathelp.org.

Visit www.sweathelp.org

Learn more at www.botoxseveresweating.com.

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