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From topical to surgical, there are many ways to turn off the flow from excessive sweating

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
From topical to surgical, there are ways to help excessive sweating
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Excessive sweating can make daily life miserable. Some people are so embarrassed, they suffer before even mentioning it to a doctor.

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Excessive sweating can make daily life miserable. Some people are so embarrassed, they suffer for five or 10 years before even mentioning it to a doctor. But there are effective treatments, from topical to surgical.

Perspiration cools us in the sweltering heat, and a little on the palms improves our grip. But too much can be trouble.

"Shaking someone's hand, holding a pen, turning the doorknob," says Temple Health dermatologist Dr. Alina Shevchenko

Dr. Shevchenko says excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, affects about 3% of the population.

It can be in just a few areas, such as the armpits, hands or feet, and forehead.

Or it can be an allover problem.

It can be primary, meaning it's a stand-alone problem, or secondary, caused by a medication or medical condition.

"Overactive thyroid gland, some cancers like lymphoma, some infections like tuberculosis, and some very common conditions, like diabetes," notes Dr. Shevchenko.

If prescription-strength antiperspirants don't work, there are medications to decrease sweating.

Botox injections are very effective at calming the nerves causing sweat glands to be overproductive.

"The results last about three to four to six months," she says.

There are also FDA-approved devices that use thermal or other energy to eliminate underarm sweat glands.

One of the most popular, Miradry, was approved in February 2011.

Surgeon Cherie Erkmen says sometimes an overactive nerve can be the cause.

"We have the nerve that runs in the chest, and along the ribs on the back side on both sides - one on the right and one on the left, says Dr. Erkmen, adding, "It can be triggered and all of a sudden cause sweating without even a cause."

Robotic surgery can disrupt just the overactive pathway.

Dr. Erkmen says the relief is immediate.

"When people wake up, they will feel the difference in both of their hands," she says.

But other nerves won't be harmed.

"There's no effect in terms of the hand, arm, finger sensation or movement at all," she says.

Dr. Erkmen says there is a chance of what's called "compensatory sweating" elsewhere on the body, but the amount is much less.