Dry me a river: They are fighting a battle against profuse sweating By Zakir Hussain NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE on May 10, 2005
Each time Sophia Parente held the hand of her 5-year-old son, Vincent, he pulled away and said, “Ew, it’s gross, Mummy.”
“He’d wipe his little hands off while crossing the road,” Parente said.
At social events, she would have “that sinking inside feeling” when people wiped their hands after shaking hers. When she could, she would hold a glass of cold water so she had an excuse for why her hands were wet.
Then in March, Parente, 30, a middle-school teacher in Virginia Beach, Va., began receiving Botox injections in her palms. Now, they no longer drip. And Vincent doesn’t let go.
Parente is one of nearly 8 million Americans who perspire profusely. Theirs is an obscure medical condition, hyperhidrosis, which is getting more attention thanks to a group of doctors who in 2003 formed the International Hyperhidrosis Society, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia.
The society recently launched a “Know Sweat” awareness campaign to help sufferers realize that they are not alone. Its Web site, www.sweathelp.org, explains treatment options and provides a database of over 500 physicians throughout the United States, Canada and the world.
“This is the message that we’re trying to get out,” said Dr. David Pariser, president of the society, who has a practice in Norfolk, Va. “To tell people it is not normal to sweat all the time.”
A recent survey sponsored by the society found that 88 percent of those diagnosed with hyperhidrosis had endured negative social reactions from others like disgust or mockery. One recent survey showed that 12 percent of Americans said they perspired a lot all the time. Of these, 83 percent had not seen a doctor about their condition, mainly because they didn’t think they had a problem or because they didn’t think anything could be done about it.
“When they have a problem that interferes with their life, that’s sweating too much,” said Dr. Flor Mayoral, a dermatologist in Miami. “People will say ‘no’ to a social event, they would isolate themselves, they may not go to church or, when they go, they don’t shake people’s hands.”
Hyperhidrosis results from overactive sweat glands and is not related to weight, ethnicity or climate, said Dr. Heidi Waldorf, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. It usually affects the underarms, palms, face and soles of the feet, and commonly begins in adolescence. People who perspire all over the body may have other medical conditions, she said.
Far more damaging to many sufferers than the inconvenient physical manifestations are the ridicule, embarrassment and anxiety that accompany them. This is particularly difficult for children.
“They may feel uncomfortable raising their hands in class, and the teacher might think they’re not interested,” said Dr. Kathryn Connor, a psychiatrist at Duke University who has seen young hyperhidrosis patients.
That was the case for Frances Rivers, 16, who found it nerve-racking to be around people. She could barely hold a pen in class without wiping her hands every few minutes and wore three layers of clothes to hide sweat marks under her arms. Last October, the high school student in Virginia Beach demanded that her parents arrange treatment.
Rivers’ mother, Felecia, searched the Internet and discovered a specialist who administered Botox injections on her daughter’s underarms. He also prescribed iontophoresis, a procedure where a water bath is used to conduct a mild electric current through the skin. Almost immediately, her symptoms went away.
People who think they sweat too much should locate a dermatologist to help them explore treatment options, said Pariser. One common approach is surgery that prevents nerve signals from being transmitted to sweat glands in affected areas. This procedure, however, can prompt profuse perspiration in other previously unaffected parts of the body.
People with hyperhidrosis can use prescription antiperspirants or they can temporarily block sweat glands by iontophoresis. Parente found this time-consuming and not effective. It was then that her dermatologist suggested Botox as an option. Note that you should seek natural cures BEFORE thnking about Botox and understand the risks associated with injections as well!
Botox injections stop the nerves from stimulating sweat glands, said Waldorf. Completed in minutes, these injections need to be repeated after six months. And while they may cost up to $2,000 per treatment, insurance companies are increasingly paying for the procedure if it has been prescribed by a doctor. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Botox for hyperhidrosis.
Not long after Rivers’ injections, she wore a strapless gown to her 10th-grade homecoming party and participated in her school’s pageant. “It just changed my life completely,” she said.
Thank you to Lori Riback for submitting this article and writes:
This was published in the health section of the San Diego paper today and I thought I would pass it along. Thank you, Lori Riback – Tampa Florida.