What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is the production of excessive sweat. It can involve the palms of the hands, the arm pits and the feet. This disorder is most intense during adolescence but may abnormally persist into adulthood in some patients. Hyperhidrosis affects approximately 3% of the population. Climate does not cause hyperhidrosis, but hot weather exacerbates sweating. Hyperhidrosis involving the palms and arm pits can be the most debilitating as it often creates substantial professional and social problems for patients.

How can I manage my hyperhidrosis?

Nonsurgical treatment should initially be attempted in all patients with hyperhidrosis. These include anti-perspirants (especially those containing aluminium chloride), medication (blocks the nerve endings that activate the sweat glands), iontophoresis (the affected areas are placed in water and a low-voltage electrical current passed through it), and Botox injections (directly block the nerves that activate sweat glands). Antiperspirants can cause skin irritation; medication can cause side effects such as a dry mouth and issues passing urine. Iontophoresis and Botox are temporary and need to be repeated regularly which can become expensive.

What are the options to more permanently treat hyperhidrosis?

Surgery to directly cut the nerves in the chest responsible for activation of the sweat glands in the hand and arm pits (thoracoscopic sympathectomy) is an option for patients who do not experience an improvement in quality of life despite appropriate nonoperative treatment. This is a more permanent solution for patients willing to accept the risks involved in surgery. These risks include excess sweating elsewhere (compensatory hyperhidrosis), air in the chest (pneumothorax), bleeding and inadvertent damage to other nerves. Dr Freeman is experienced in performing surgery for hyperhidrosis and can provide expert advice as to whether this is a suitable option for you.

Sydney Vascular Ultrasound provides specialised vascular and venous diagnostic imaging in Burwood, Bankstown and Liverpool.