If you’d like to learn how to control sweating, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 8 million Americans suffer from excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis. And even though it’s a common problem, there’s a stigma associated with excessive sweating so many people don’t seek help for the problem.
Why It’s Important to Sweat
Sweating is an important bodily function that helps maintain the body’s temperature. Everyone constantly sweats to some degree, but it becomes excessive in hot weather, when we exercise, and during stressful situations.
Approximately 2-4 million sweat glands that are located on the forehead, face, hands, armpits and feet excrete sweat from the skin’s pores to keep us from overheating. As the sweat evaporates, our skin cools down and a safe body temperature is maintained. If we were unable to sweat properly, say from severe dehydration, death would surely be imminent.
Why Some People Sweat Too Much
People with hyperhidrosis may sweat up to four times more than the average person, although it can be more or less. The problem is that they sweat profusely at times when the body doesn’t need it, even when they are calm, relaxed and inactive.
While the causes of hyperhidrosis are unknown, some experts think it may be due to abnormally sensitive pathways between the sweat glands and the brain.
Statistics indicate that hyperhidrosis may be genetic since about two-thirds of sufferers have it in their family history.
Excessive sweating usually starts during puberty and tends to be noticeable in stages: first under the arms and the hands, then on the feet, face, and scalp, but excessive sweating can occur from head to toe.
How Much Sweat Is Too Much?
When assessing hyperhidrosis, it really comes down to how much it affects a person’s quality of life.
Some people with hyperhidrosis only wear dark clothing or may bring several shirts to work to change into during the day. Some people even tuck paper towels or sanitary pads in their armpits to soak up the sweat.
How to Control Sweating
For mild hyperhidrosis, here are some things you can do to help:
- Apply talcum or cornstarch powder to your problem areas for perspiration.
- Use an unscented, aluminum salt-containing antiperspirant that is formulated for use on the palms and soles of feet.
- Apply medicated powder on problem areas to help absorb sweat and prevent bacterial growth.
- Wear cotton socks and alternate the shoes you wear every other day to allow shoes to air dry when not wearing them.
- Use absorbent inserts in your shoes and replace them often.
Help is Available
Medical help is also available to control sweating. Often, dermatologists will start with a prescription-strength antiperspirant. Other drugs are available if the first treatments aren’t effective, but some drugs may have more severe side effects, so beware.
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