Sweating is a very important way for the body to lose heat. However, people with hyperhidrosis produce too much sweat and this can have a profound effect on their daily lives, affecting job opportunities, relationships and self- confidence.
Hyperhidrosis involving excessive sweating on the feet, hands and in about 30 – 40% of cases, the armpits. Botox is recommended for the treatment of focal hyperhidrosis affecting the armpits when other treatments have not worked.
Your Questions Answered
How common is hyperhidrosis?
It has been estimated that up to 1% of the population has some form of hyperhidrosis. It usually starts during the teens and twenties.
What are the causes of hyperhidrosis?
It is caused by over activity of one type of sweat gland, the eccrine gland. These are found all over the body surface but are concentrated on the palms, the soles of the feet and the armpits. The Eccrine gland which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system regulates body temperature. When the internal body temperature rises, the eccrine glands secrete water to the skin surface certain triggers exacerbate normal sweating however in hyperhidrosis the amount is increased.
Examples of these triggers can include:
- Alcohol, coffee or tea, smoking, hot or spicy food
- Stress, anxiety or strong emotions
People with hyperhidrosis can produce a large volume of sweat. This means that the hands, feet, chest or armpits may be constantly damp. This can make day-to-day activities difficult to carry out and can cause embarrassment at work or socially. However, it is important to note that hyperhidrosis does not cause body odour as this is caused by bacteria if sweat remains in the area for a long time.
What can I do about hyperhidrosis?
There are a number of self-help precautions that you can take if you suffer from hyperhidrosis. These include:
- Choose clothing that will keep you cool.
- Keep your work area cool and well ventilated.
- Avoid the food and drinks that trigger sweating. These will vary for different people but you will probably know what causes problems for you.
- Reduce stress, tension and anxiety. Think about how you can reduce stress during the day, plan your activities carefully and make time to relax.
- Pay attention to your personal hygiene.
What is Botox and how does it work?
Botox is a treatment given by injection into the skin. It is recommended for the treatment of hyperhidrosis in the armpits.
Botulinum Toxin is a very pure preparation of a protein, Botulinum toxin type A. When small doses are injected into the skin, Botox blocks the action of the nerves that supply the glands that produce sweat. Botox will block the nerve endings but over time new nerve endings do grow to replace them. The effect of treatment last for several months but eventually it will wear off and repeat treatment is required.
The treatment is not a cure for hyperhidrosis – it only provides temporary relief. It needs to be repeated every three to six months for maximum effect.
What happens during treatment?
The treatment takes 30 minutes, firstly the area to be treated is marked out and anaesthetic cream is applied to the area as the arm pits are quite sensitive.
Using a very fine needle, a small amount of Botox is injected into 20 to 30 places, spread evenly across the armpit. A course of treatment takes about 30 minutes
How quickly does it work and how long will the effects last?
You should notice a difference in sweating within a few days; responses do though vary between patients.
Your next treatment can be given when the effects of the first course wear off, this usually happens after 4 to 6 months. We will advise you about when to return for further treatment.