Hyperhydrosis is a condition in
which the sweat glands are over productive resulting in excessive
perspiration. This condition is most common in adolescents and young
adults. What causes hyperhydrosis? Each of us has a set point for our metabolism. This set
point is somewhat like the thermostat in our homes. Some folks have a
higher set point than others. For some patients, hyperhydrosis may be due to anxiety,
stress, hyperthyroidism, hypoadrenalism or excessive fluid intake. For
others, it's just their natural metabolic set point.
The opposite of hyperhydrosis is called anhydrosis, or lack of perspiration.
Anhydrosis is common in patients with advanced diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is common is cases of poorly controlled diabetes.
As diabetic peripheral neuropathy progresses, the autonomic nervous
system becomes dysfunctional. The autonomic nervous system is that system
that controls the 'behind the curtain' activity in our bodies such as
perspiration, salivation and bowel motility. Anhydrosis results in dry, brittle
skin that heals poorly.
Treatment of hyperhydrosis
When treating hyperhydrosis, it's important to realize that this
condition cannot be cured with oral or topical medications. Treating hyperhydrosis requires ongoing,
daily care. Some
of the methods used to treat hyperhydrosis are really quite simple and focus on
an environment in the shoe that is cool, dry and accessible to UV light.
As an example, try these four simple tricks to keep the foot dry:
1. Rotate your shoes, wearing each pair every other day
to allow them to dry thoroughly.
2. Avoid synthetic materials like rubber or vinyl and wear leather or cloth that
can absorb moisture.
3. Frequent changes of socks to wick away moisture.
4. Use talc or baby powder daily to wick away moisture.
Topical drying agents, such as
Onox, are useful to help
control hyperhydrosis. Aluminum chloride is the most commonly used topical
drying agent. Aluminum chloride is found in many under arm
anti-perspirants and in several prescription strength medications used to treat
hyperhydrosis. Formalin is used in other prescription strength
medications to control perspiration. Antihistamine and anticholinergic medications are used in
severe cases. These medications include Benadryl, Banthine or
Shoe odor, called bromhydrosis, can be reduced with the use of a
drying agent like
Onox. Bromhydrosis is due to bacterial overgrowth in the shoe that
is promoted by hyperhydrosis. Control of bacterial growth in the shoe can
be helped with the use of a
And remember that it's imperative to keep the shoe as dry as possible.
Severe cases of hyperhydrosis can
also be treated with injections or surgery. Recently, injections of Botox,
or attenuated botulism, have been used very successfully by dermatologists and
podiatrists to control hyperhydrosis.
Botox is used to paralyze the smooth muscle that regulates the sweat
gland. Endoscopic excision of the dorsal root ganglion is a method used by
neurosurgeons to create surgical anhydrosis by surgically removing that
component of the nervous system responsible for autonomic functions.
And finally, it's interesting to note that those patients who have
an interest in alternative healthcare may be reluctant to treat hyperhydrosis. Their
philosophy is that perspiration is a natural way that the body is ridding itself
of toxic material. Inhibiting perspiration by any means will result in the
accumulation of free radicals and other metabolic waste.