Everyone experiences sweating, whether from high temperatures, nervousness, exertion, or even eating spicy food. Sweat is simply a natural part of being a human being, as each of us has more than 2.5 million eccrine glands, or sweat glands, spread across our bodies which release sweat in response to stimuli.
This particular process works to cool you down, detoxify, and send salt back into the blood to maintain basic functions, but can be an issue for the approximately 5% of people who have overactive sweat glands.
Unfortunately, some people sweat more than average, experiencing a condition known as hyperhidrosis, also called excessive sweating. This can affect the palms (palmar hyperhidrosis), armpit (axillary hyperhidrosis), feet (plantar hyperhidrosis), and head (craniofacial hyperhidrosis), and can be a year round problem that becomes extreme in warmer months.
This sweating can be worsened by stress, heat, and lifestyle factors like drinking alcohol, smoking, and eating spicy or affective foods like garlic and caffeine as overactive sweat glands are stimulated.
Types of Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis can be split into two types, primary and secondary. Primary hyperhidrosis is identified as excessive sweating that does not does not have any clear trigger, that may present itself gradually. By contrast, secondary hyperhidrosis can often be linked to a particular cause, for example, certain illnesses, natural life events (pregnancy, menopause, etc.), or medications, and is more likely to begin suddenly.
Treating Overactive Sweat Glands
Until a few years ago, the only options to treat overactive sweat glands would have been limited to extra-strength deodorants and antiperspirants at one end of the spectrum, and surgical procedures at the other extreme. Now, there are more therapies available, like the ongoing use of botulinum toxin injections or devices like miraDry.
Botulinum toxin, commonly known simply by the brand name Botox, can be injected into the armpits in order to block signals from the brain to sweat glands for as long as 3-4 months at a time. miraDry offers a more lasting solution, using electromagnetic energy to eliminate these glands, for a recommended reduction of up to 80% of sweating.