When Botox injections became one of the most popular methods to remove wrinkles and firm sagging skin, dermatologists started hearing reports from hyperhidrosis patients who received Botox shots for wrinkles that they were not sweating as excessively as they had been prior to receiving Botox injections. Intrigued by the prospect that Botox may be having a positive affect on people who perspired profusely, dermatologists began performing clinical studies involving hyperhidrosis sufferers and Botox, eventually discovering that Botox did indeed reduce sweating on the palms, soles of the feet, underarms and face.
What is Hyperhidrosis?
We all perspire when we are hot, physically active, nervous or frightened. Caffeinated beverages and spicy foods can also make us sweat, in addition to strong odors that trigger an emotional or physical response initiated by stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Sweating is necessary to prevent the body from overheating and plays a significant role in eliminating toxins from the body that have not been removed through urination. However, people diagnosed with hyperhidrosis sweat unpredictably and excessively, even when they have a comfortable body temperature and are not physically engaged or anxious. Although hyperhidrosis does not present a health risk, it can be embarrassing to those suffering from the condition. People with hyperhidrosis often avoid shaking hands or attending social functions where they may perspire even more due to feeling anxious.
Sometimes hyperhidrosis is the result of a person suffering from another medical condition. This is referred to as “secondary” hyperhidrosis, which is commonly seen in individuals diagnosed with chronic anxiety, cancer, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease and heart disease. Menopausal women often experience excessive “secondary” hyperhidrosis as hormone levels fluctuate and estrogen release decreases in the ovaries, leading to hot flashes and nighttime sweating.
Most people with hyperhidrosis do not seek professional medical treatment since it does not cause them to feel ill. They may try to control excessive underarm perspiration with antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate, although antiperspirants are actually formulated to reduce body odor rather than the amount of perspiration released under the arms. Anticholingerics medications that inhibit sweat gland activity by blocking acetylcholine (a chemical messenger that “tells” the sweat glands to start producing fluid) can be taken for hyperhidrosis but people who take these drugs frequently experience moderate to severe side effects. Dry mouth, inability to urinate, constipation, vision problems and heart palpitations often cause hyperhidrosis sufferers to abandon their medication and simply deal with their excessive sweating.
Signs That You May Suffer From Hyperhidrosis
What is the difference between “normal” sweating and “excessive” sweating? Some things to ask yourself when determining whether you may have hyperhidrosis are:
- Do I change my clothes more than twice daily due to excessive sweating?
- Do I avoid socially interacting with others because you are embarrassed about sweaty hands, face or underarms?
- Do I perspire heavily in cool weather?
- Do I perspire heavily while sitting and doing nothing?
- Do I sometimes need to change your bed sheets during the night because they are soaked with your sweat?
- Do I feet suffer from frequent fungal infections and heat rashes because you sweat so much?
If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, you may have hyperhidrosis.
How Does Botox Reduce Symptoms of Hyperhidrosis?
Botox is able to eliminate wrinkles, folds and frown lines by introducing a purified protein into muscles that reduces contractions and essentially paralyzes muscles into maintaining a relaxed state. Following a Botox injection, muscles and skin flatten and smooth out over the previously wrinkled area, providing dramatically younger-looking skin.
When used to treat hyperhidrosis, Botox effectively inhibits the ability of the sympathetic nervous system to control sweat gland activity due to very small amounts of the botulinum toxin contained in an injection of Botox. This toxin prevents the release of acetylcholine, an action that inhibits nerves from overstimulating sweat glands in the hands, feet, under the arms and the face.
Botox injections take about 15 minutes and most hyperhidrosis sufferers experience relief from excessive sweating in a few days. Patients do not need to be anesthetized but can choose to have a topical numbing agent applied to the injection area. Although Botox does not cure hyperhidrosis, people receiving a Botox injection for excessive sweating generally experience relief for up to seven months before they begin to notice symptoms of hyperhidrosis return.
If you suffer from the embarrassment and discomfort of hyperhidrosis, consider discussing your condition with a Mayoral dermatologist who can provide further information about Botox injections for the treatment of hyperhidrosis.