‘Men sweat and ladies glow’ – is a popular observation but in fact we all sweat. Normal sweating helps to regulate body temperature especially during hot weather, exercising or during a period of illness when fever is present.

Excessive sweating (known as hyperhidrosis) is suffered by some people where they sweat more than normal even when not hot, exercising or ill.

The usual places where we sweat are the armpits (axillae), palms of the hands and soles of the feet and in affected individuals one of these areas will produce excessive sweat. The sweating occurs equally in both arm-pits, both palms and both feet but the rest of their body will sweat normally. There is usually no particular cause - some people just seem to have overactive or oversensitive sweat glands in these areas. Occasionally it can run in families but it can develop at any age and both men and women are affected equally.

For some sufferers the condition varies from time to time and may be made worse by certain triggers such as spicy food, heat or anxiety.

 There are some basic tips which you can try to minimise the condition:

Use a bland soap or soap substitute to wash, trying not to irritate or over-stimulate the area.

  • Use a normal anti-perspirant regularly. Remember an anti-perspirant reduces sweating whereas a deodorant just masks an odour.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes in the underarm area made from natural fibres. Man-made fibres are more likely to make you sweat.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that show the sweat marks.  Generally black or white clothes are less likely to show wet patches.  Sometimes dress shields (an absorbent pad) may be worn in the underarm area.

 For excessively sweaty feet it is advisable to:

  • Use an absorbent foot powder twice a day.
  • Change socks twice a day.  Again try to wear cotton socks not man-made materials.
  • Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day and try to wear shoes that are made of a breathable material.  Avoid trainers or boots as these often trap the sweat making the condition worse.

 If normal antiperspirants are not working for you it is possible to buy stronger ones which contain aluminium salts.  These seem to work by blocking the sweat ducts and can be used under the arms, on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  In the pharmacy two brands are available, Perspirex and Driclor both of which come in a handy roll on applicator.

They are applied to dry skin at night then washed off in the morning and this is repeated daily until the desired result is obtained.  It may then be possible to reduce the frequency of applications as the condition improves, eventually only having to use the treatment weekly.  It is important that the skin is dry before application and that the skin hasn’t been shaved within 24 hours of application. If used correctly these products make a great difference to sufferers and can be used indefinitely.


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