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Is There a Cure for Hyperhidrosis or Treatments?

As much as 3% of the population suffers from the excessive sweating that categorizes hyperhidrosis. Is there a cure?
picture of dice showing cure or care for hyperhidrosis treatment

So, you have a diagnosis of primary focal hyperhidrosis and you're wondering: is there a cure?

The short answer to this question is “no”. However, there are many hyperhidrosis treatments available today that make the condition manageable for almost everyone that has it. There is also a tremendous amount of research and future treatments for hyperhidrosis that are being developed in order to solve this problem.[1]

There are two main types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Secondary hyperhidrosis typically has a sudden onset in adulthood, and there is usually a cause for the excessive sweating that doctors are able to ascertain. Unfortunately, doctors don’t fully understand what causes primary focal hyperhidrosis.[1]

Primary focal hyperhidrosis describes excessive sweating that occurs on specific parts of the body, specifically, the hands, feet, armpits, face, and groin. People usually begin to notice symptoms during adolescents and they continue throughout a person’s lifetime. If you are wondering what causes this to happen, you are not alone.[2]

It is interesting to note that people with primary focal hyperhidrosis have sweat glands that are anatomically the same as the average person. This just means that the sweat glands of someone with hyperhidrosis look the same as the average person. People with hyperhidrosis have the same sized sweat glands and the same number as anyone else. It has also been found that the sweat glands of people with hyperhidrosis function properly.[1]

The problem is that people with hyperhidrosis have overactive sweat glands. It is thought that an issue with the sympathetic nervous system, which the body uses to activate sweat glands, may be the cause of hyperhidrosis. This understanding is relatively new though, and more research needs to be done in order to confirm it. If this is the case, then a cure, or at least a very effective hyperhidrosis treatment option, could be found in the foreseeable future.[1]

Hyperhidrosis Treatments

While an exact cure is not currently on the table, there are many hyperhidrosis treatment options available for those with the condition. Some of them hyperhidrosis so effectively that patients only have mild symptoms or none at all! Regrettably, many of the most effective treatments are expensive and only covered by some insurance plans. The cost of hyperhidrosis treatment can be a concern for many people when they are choosing a treatment plan that is right for them.[1]

The type of hyperhidrosis treatment an individual needs is most often based on their specific problem areas. Most people with primary focal hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweating in the armpits, palms, soles, face, and occasionally, other parts of the body.[1] Patients might only experience excessive sweating in one location or they might have several problem areas. Below is a list of the treatments that are currently available to treat hyperhidrosis:

  • Over-the-counter topical treatments:Most topical treatments are antiperspirants, and there are many formulations available. Some antiperspirants are for areas like the face and groin which are sensitive. Other antiperspirants are stronger and intended for areas that are extremely sweat prone and have tougher skin, like the hands and soles.
  • Iontophoresis for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis:This type of hyperhidrosis treatment is noninvasive and can be done at home. It does require patients to devote a large amount of time to consistently do the therapy, but it is a good choice for those with sweaty hands and feet.
  • BotoxBotox for axillary hyperhidrosis is approved by the FDA and is highly effective. It is also used to treat palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. Treatments only need to be repeated every six to twelve months.
  • Oral medications for hyperhidrosis:Several types of oral medications are available to reduce excess sweating in hyperhidrosis patients. Unfortunately, many medicines cause side effects that may make them a less desirable option.
  • Local Permanent Treatment Options for Axillary Hyperhidrosis:There are a variety of procedures that can be done specifically to the armpit that enable a patient to experience permanent relief from excessive sweating in that area. These are a great option for someone with severe underarm sweating, but can be cost prohibitive.[2]
  • In the last few years hyperhidrosis treatment options have expanded. New and improved ingredients for antiperspirants have been discovered, many of the local procedures for the permanent treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis came out, and other new treatment options are just around the corner. In 2018, a company released a new product called Qbrexza that has improved the topical treatments available for hyperhidrosis.[3] There is hope for a cure, but until then, there is also hope for better hyperhidrosis treatments with less side effects.

    Research for the Future

    The pathophysiology (how it affects the body) of hyperhidrosis needs to be better understood in order for researchers to develop a cure. Specifically, research that looks into the relationship between the sympathetic nervous system and overactive sweat glands could be done.[1] However, it will likely be some time before this happens. There are hyperhidrosis treatments currently in development that will improve the outcomes for people who have it - if they are approved and able to infiltrate the market. Much of this future research involves treatments that aim to reduce sweating at specific sites on the body. These types of hyperhidrosis treatments are advantageous due to the fact that they do not cause systemic side effects and because they are often able to permanently stop sweating. Most of the treatment advances have been focused on using energy, in various forms, to disrupt sweat glands and prevent them from producing excess sweat. So far, these types of treatments have been most successful in treating axillary hyperhidrosis.[2]

    Hopefully, as time goes on and more research is done, hyperhidrosis will become a better recognized condition and a cure will be found. Currently, hyperhidrosis is under diagnosed and under reported due to stigma and a lack of understanding that permeates the medical community.[2] There are efforts underway to change this, and as medical professionals become better educated, hyperhidrosis will be better understood and more effective treatments will come about.

    Sources
    1. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science. Retrieved from https://www.bookdepository.com/Hyperhidrosis-Janine-R-Huddle/9781633215160
    2. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Amsterdam: Elsevier Pub. Co., 2014. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/books/hyperhidrosis-an-issue-of-dermatologic-clinics/pariser/978-0-323-32607-0
    3. Qbrexza. (2018). Retrieved September 20, 2018, Retrieved from https://dermira.com/our-medicines/
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