Dermatology

Sweat It Out

  • August 1, 2019
  • 2 minutes read

In Singapore’s humid climate, people who suffer from excessive underarm sweating may find it uncomfortable and embarrassing. Here are some options to tackle the flood.

We all sweat. It’s the body’s cooling system, a way to regulate temperature and prevent heat stroke. However, excessive and uncontrollable underarm sweating can not only be uncomfortable and annoying, but socially embarrassing. This extreme form of underarm sweating is known as axillary hyperhidrosis.

No one knows the exact cause of hyperhidrosis, but about three in every 100 people suffer from some form of it; they are otherwise completely healthy. Although excessive sweating is often linked to anxiety, studies show that sufferers are usually no more nervous than those who sweat normal amounts. The problem usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood, and the sweating is most profuse in the palm, sole and underarm.

About one-third of people with hyperhidrosis say their symptoms significantly affect their quality of life. It can have a negative impact on many activities we take for granted. Some people have difficulty writing because the sweat causes loss of grip or results in smears to the ink on a page.

Others avoid shaking hands, skip social engagements or resort to frequently changing their clothes due to wet patches or pungent odour. For many sufferers, it affects their self esteem and poses a challenge to romantic relationships.

The first mode of defence for sufferers is to use antiperspirants, which can come in a range of strengths, including clinical-strength formulations, which may cause irritation. Some use absorbent undershirts or underarm pads under their clothes to soak up excess sweat. However, these are only temporary measures.

A SAFE, LASTING SOLUTION

A more long-term solution for hyperhidrosis is miraDry®, a noninvasive solution that is currently the only FDA-approved treatment providing lasting results for axillary hyperhidrosis. The system uses a handpiece to deliver electromagnetic energy to the sweat glands in the underarms, thus destroying the sweat glands permanently and drastically reducing underarm sweating immediately after treatment with minimal to no downtime. The advantages of miraDry® are that the sweat glands do not regenerate after treatment — so the results are lasting — and the absence of surface scarring.

A published study measured an average sweat reduction of 82%. A large percentage of subjects with self-reported underarm odour also found that it was not noticeable after treatment.

The procedure is an outpatient treatment, involves no surgical incisions, and can be customised for each underarm area. Local anaesthesia is given to maintain comfort. The procedure lasts about an hour. For excessive underarm sweating, two to three sessions — which are typically spaced three months apart — are usually recommended to maximise the results.

After treatment, there may be soreness or swelling, although these symptoms can be readily remedied with over-the-counter pain medication or the use of ice packs. Most patients can return to normal activities or work right after the procedure, and can also resume exercise routines within several days.

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