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Posted at: May 13, 2017, 12:47 AM; last updated: May 13, 2017, 12:47 AM (IST)

For a summer of no sweat

Vikas Sharma

As the mercury rises so do many skin problems. With the rise in body temperature due to summer heat, our autonomic nervous system stimulates eccrine sweat glands to secrete sweat onto the skin surface. However, in many people this secretion becomes abnormally high. This condition is known as hyperhidrosis, a medical condition in which a person sweats excessively. Sweat is an important human secretion and each person has not only unique finger prints, taste buds but also a unique sweat odour. While it may cause social embarrassment, it may also cause practical problems like not able to have a firm grip on a car steering.

Taking control of this problem at the earliest is of paramount importance so as to avoid plethora of complications like fungal infections, bacterial infections and dermatitis. These infections can lead to a vicious cycle of sweat-itch-infection.

Treatments may include

Antiperspirants: Excessive sweating may be controlled with strong antiperspirants, which plug the sweat ducts. Products containing 10 per cent to 20 per cent aluminium chloride hexahydrate are the first line of treatment for underarm sweating. Some patients may be prescribed a product containing a higher dose of aluminium chloride, which is applied nightly onto the affected areas. Antiperspirants can cause skin irritation, and large doses of aluminum chloride can damage clothing. If you have open cuts under your armpits, don't use deodorants — wait for the cuts to heal completely before you try out underarm deodorants. Deodorants do not prevent sweating, but are helpful in reducing body odour.

Medication: Anticholinergic drugs, such as glycopyrrolate help to prevent the stimulation of sweat glands. Side-effects include dry mouth, dizziness, and problems with urination.

Iontophoresis: This FDA-approved procedure uses electricity to temporarily turn off the sweat gland. It is most effective in cases of effective sweating of the hands and feet. The therapy lasts about 10-20 minutes and requires several sessions.

Botulinum toxin type A: It is FDA approved for the treatment of severe underarm sweating, a condition called primary axillary hyperhidrosis. Small doses of purified botulinum toxin injected into the underarm temporarily block the nerves that stimulate sweating. Side-effects include injection-site pain and flu-like symptoms.

Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy: In severe cases, a minimally-invasive surgical procedure called sympathectomy may be recommended when other treatments fail.

When the sweating becomes too much to handle, it's time to make changes in the daily routine.

Clothing: Strictly avoid synthetic fabrics. Wear loose clothes made up of breathable fabric like cotton.

Shoes: Opt for shoes made up of natural material like leather rather than synthetic material. Avoid wearing closed shoes for prolonged periods, whenever possible let your feet breath fresh air. Or prefer open-toed, breathable footwear.

Soaps with correct pH: Avoid fragrance-laden soaps, use soaps having pH of around 5.8. 

Avoid fragrance-laden wipes or use hypoallergenic wet wipes.

Avoid spicy and fatty foods.

— The writer is a dermatologist, National Skin Hospital, Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula


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