Excessive sweating can make people's lives a misery, but there are self-help techniques and effective treatments.
On internet forums devoted to excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), anonymous posts talk about "distress", "embarrassment", "stigma", "hopelessness" and "isolation". While excessive sweating isn’t medically dangerous, it can cause significant emotional and psychological distress, which can affect personal and professional relationships.
"It can be very embarrassing, to the point where many sufferers are reluctant to speak to their doctor," says Julie Halford, founder of the Hyperhidrosis UK support group.
“It affects people in everything they do. If you work with paper and have hyperhidrosis of your hands, it's a big problem. People who have hyperhidrosis of the feet can rot their shoes within a few weeks.
“A lot of people associate excessive sweating with body odour. Hyperhidrosis doesn't [cause] body odour. Often people just sweat excessively but there is no smell with it.”
Bad body odour is caused when bacteria living on the skin break down protein and fatty substances secreted by sweat glands in the armpits (underarms) and groin.
Most people produce about a litre of sweat each day, but people with hyperhidrosis (about 2-3% of the population), can produce up to 10 times as much.
Excessive sweating can be caused by illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. It normally stops once the underlying condition is treated.
But it’s also a condition in its own right. When the nerves that control sweating don’t function normally, they cause constant sweating in one or more areas of the body.
“The hands, the feet and the armpits (underarm) are the most common places,” says Halford. “The face, the head, the groin, the back and the chest also sweat, but not as commonly.”
People with excessive sweating wish they could just turn the tap off. It might not be as easy as that, but there are effective treatments available.
What help is available?
Changing your lifestyle and daily activities can improve symptoms and make you feel more self-confident.
- Avoid known triggers that make your sweating worse, such as spicy foods or alcohol.
- Frequently use antiperspirant spray (rather than deodorants).
- Avoid tight, restrictive clothing and man-made fibres, such as nylon.
- Wearing white or black clothing can minimise the signs of sweating.
- Armpit shields can absorb excessive sweat and protect your clothes.
- Wear socks that absorb moisture, for example thick, soft socks made of natural fibres or sports socks designed to absorb moisture. Avoid synthetics, and change your socks at least twice a day.
- Buy shoes that are made of leather, canvas or mesh rather than synthetic material.
If you're troubled by excessive sweating, there are many products here at PharmacyKwik available to help the condition. Why not call us and speak to one of the pharmacists, who will be able to advise you further.