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Ever since I was a teenager, all I remember is sweating horribly. I'm a skinny girl, so my problem was never my weight. However, I did sweat more than anyone else I knew. It came to a point where I would have to hand wash the yellow patches from my white school shirts every night. I would be too scared to take my jumper off in class, and yes, I was ridiculed by nasty bullies.
People seem to think sweating is a personal hygience issue - Ignorance. However I tried everything.
I kept my underarms clean, always wore deodrant, carried wet wipes, yet nothing worked.
Whilst in my teens and early to mid 20's my boyfriends made fun of me, not understanding the issue. My confidence was minus 110%. I would stress out at work, and stay away from any interaction with colleagues, always running to the bathroom to give my underarms a quick wipe. I can honestly say, I was disgusted with myself. Looking at me you'd never know I was a sufferer - until I wore clothing showing my sweat patches.
I tackled most days with sleeveless tops, so no one could see the sweat stains. I'd literally sweat sitting at my desk. This severely drained me mentally and physically.
My first step to helping myself was by buying the aluminium roll ons. None of these worked for more than a week. Some even itched and burned so bad.
I then went to the doctors, who advised I needed a blood test in case there were underlying issues that needed to be tackled. Nothing was found, so I went to another doctor for a second opinion, who literally stuttered for words. Oh she had been trained on botox injections, however, here in Scotland, the nhs do not pay for treatment. So she got out her medical book, and went through the list of options I could try. Most of them were the roll ons, and she advised botox was way too expensive for me.
She then gave me Zeasorb powder to put on my underarms. This was her "alternative" to roll ons.
My heart sank when she handed me the prescription. The lack of knowledge the doctors had, disappointed me a lot.
It didn't work, and I knew it wouldn't.
This left me with no hope. People don't realise how much the sufferer goes through with a condition like this. It may not be physically harmful, but the sufferer feels it 1000 times over mentally.
I decided to get botox, did my research and went for the treatment. A needle was placed in my underarms about 15 times. As the doc numbed my underarmed before treatement with a cream, I hardly felt anything. Just a slight pinch and I didn't even bleed! After about a week (5-7 days) my underarms were dry during the day! I was ecstatic! I would get a slight sticky patch every now and again but it wasn't anything to worry about. I FINALLY felt happy to be normal. I was sceptical however, so I took my time buying coloured clothing. Colours like pink and yellow, and blue - with sleeves!
My new found happiness did not last. I started sweating again after 3 weeks. It wasn't like I used to sweat but the doc who treated me, did advise it would disappear by up to 80%. I was worried it would be back before the 4-6 months were over. Hence waste of money (treatment is expensive) and time.
I started to think nothing would cure my hyperhidrosis, even temporarily. Was it too much to ask?
Then I had an idea. What if I use the aluminium roll on whilst the botox was still in my system? Both combined together may work better than one.
And I can say, its been about a month and my sweating has been controlled so far.
My suggestion to you is, do your research, try and find out if you can get paid treament before forking out hundreds of pounds. Then find out if the clinic is reputable and i'll leave the rest to you :)
As something that has affected me for a long time and with so few people having written about it I felt that it might be worth spreading the word about it so you can all understand a condition that may not be life threatening but is incredibly hard work, and frustrating for those who suffer with it. Imagine girls going into a shop and seeing the most beautiful pink dress, but knowing that even trying it on would leave it with marks that would embarrass you... That's what I dealt with for five years....
~*~ What is Hyperhidrosis? ~*~
Now there are two types of hyperhidrosis, localized hyperhidrosis which can be around particular places of the body such as excessive sweating in arm pits, feet, hands and groin area. This is because in these areas there are the most sweat glands in the body, however it is not just these areas, any on the body can be affected; generalized hyperhidrosis however happens to be in various places all over the body at the same time. It can be specified into Primary and Secondary sectors of the condition, primary hyperhidrosis tends to start in adolescence, and should be distinguished from secondary which can start at any point in life. The secondary hyperhidrosis can be due to thyroid or pituitary problem - which normally has to be investigated, using blood tests. There are other ways of classifying hyperhidrosis, one being the area in which it affects - palmoplantar; meaning just sweating in palms of hands or feet.
~*~ At this point I'd just like to point out that hyperhidrosis is merely excessive sweating it doesn't mean a sufferer is smelly or disgusting and if you suffer as a child it's something you will come across as an insult frequently! ~*~
~*~ Treatments for Hyperhidrosis ~*~
There are many ways to treat the condition once you have been diagnosed by your GP, the first thing they tend to do is refer to a dermatologist so you can talk through your condition with a professional. The first line of treatment tends to be an aluminium chloride based anti perspirant if you are suffering with axilla hyperhidrosis (underarms) but it has been known to be used on other parts of the body affected by excessive sweating. There are other ways if that doesn't work, such as botox injections in the affected areas, tablets and if it's really needed there are surgical procedures that can be carried out to help the condition. Such as removing the sweat glands, but there are many side effects with that such as regrowth so it is possible that the condition could come back. There are many treatments that you can be referred to, it is always down to the severity you have and normally what your GP has had results with in the past. Don't be nervous to go and see your GP about treatment it will make all the difference.
~*~ That is a brief look at the condition if you want to know anymore have a look on NHS choices and if you are concerned book an appointment with your GP ~*~
~*~ My experience with the condition ~*~
As far as I can remember I realised something was wrong around the time I was 14, it started out I didn't take much notice of it I was just at school and noticed my shirts were getting a bit yellow around the armpits. Mum didn't think much of it so I ignored it, in retrospect that was probably a bad idea but it's too late now. It wasn't until I was out the summer of my GCSE's with friends in a brown vest top (I remember it like it was yesterday) stood outside Bakers Oven and one of my male friends at the time turned round to me and said oh Laura's really sweaty, despite the fact it wasn't really that hot, and we hadn't really done anything - that it really began to concern me. Come my prom a few weeks later I had a lovely pink dress, and I had to keep my arms down all night through fear of what was showing, I became increasingly paranoid about it.
That's when the obsession with black clothing came, I figured that there was no chance of anyone seeing anything if I wore black. So in sixth form, I never bothered to take my navy blue jumper off, because I was scared of what would be on my white shirts underneath. I found myself going through shirt after shirt because they were getting stained. My normal clothes too, were stained with sweat/anti perspirant that I so desperately tried to use so much to get it to stop. No one in my family said anything, but I was getting even more paranoid and upset about it every time someone mentioned it - that all I would wear was black tops and nothing else. Then I got with my boyfriend at the time and tried so hard to avoid him noticing, that wasn't going to happen, it's the most embarrassing thing in the world some things that happened to me while we were together, I won't repeat it, but it was enough to push someone back into their shell.
If I'm honest it could have been worse, but I in a day I could change my top twice maybe three times in the day time purely because it was soaked through. One of the worst things that this condition causes for me having the axilla hyperhidrosis is the fact that if I go to try on dresses or tops it used to have to be a really quick try on and off again else I would run the risk of making the top or dress wet. At one point even in the winter I could lift my arms and there would just be beads of sweat sitting on the skin. Even more so come the summer or if I was doing anything remotely like exercise it would dribble down the back of my arms, I sat in lectures last summer dripping onto the chair I was sat on. It's a horrible condition and honestly if you think you have a problem go to your GP, because I wouldn't want anyone to suffer how I did over the past five or six years.
It was about March or April this year that I discovered an anti perspirant that has pretty much stopped all this with minimal effort, and regular application. To the point that when I went to meet my new boyfriend for the first time I didn't have a drop of sweat on what I was wearing, and the girl that always had to wear black dresses for important occasions, wore a turquoise dress for her best friend's wedding. I just wish I'd gone to the GP sooner than I did - because maybe all these years of anguish and upset might have been saved. I just look forward to buying and wearing lots of bright coloured clothes, and getting my bright and bubbly personality back!
I suggested this health problem straight after writing my review of the PerspireX antiperspirant because I want to tell everyone my experiences which I'm hoping will help others that want to be 'normal'.
~ What is it? ~
Hyperhidrosis is the technical name for excess sweating. Now you may not think that this is a big deal, but trust me, it affects the sufferer in so many ways, not only physically but emotionally too. There are over half a million people in the UK alone that suffer with this problem, and this doesn't only affect the armpits (that I will be focusing on) but on the hands, feet, back groin and face too.
Your body naturally sweats to cool you down, but the difference between that and it being classed as 'excess' is when it doesn't stop. I've been outside in the snow wearing merely a t-shirt and still been sweating!
~ My experiences ~
I can't pinpoint exactly when it all started, but I think it was around year 5 at school, so I'd have been around 10/11.
School was a nightmare, especially in the summer when I felt unable to take my jumper off due to the large sweat patches under my arms. I felt like I couldn't take my jumper off, so this made me hotter, and I therefore sweated even more. I also couldn't take my jumper off before I got all hot, because as I said earlier, this has nothing to do with the heat.
I felt that if people knew about it, they wouldn't want to come near me, and this would make me feel even more isolated than I already did. So I kept it to myself, even my best friend didn't know about it, or how I was feeling. I started to get really down about it, but after a few years I finally accepted it, and started to find my own ways of dealing with it.
Outside of school was awful too, when going out with friends I'd have to carefully select what I would wear so that no sweat could be seen. I would always have to wear layers of clothes so that any sweat would be soaked up by the layer nearest my skin and hopefully wouldn't show through the outside one. Even in the summer I would still be wearing layers. During the really hot weather a couple of years ago now, it was around 35 degrees C I think, and I was still wearing my black acrylic school jumper, whilst everyone else was fanning themselves in just a t-shirt. I would be sat there thinking why me? Why am I not like them?
One time when I was sat outside with my friends at lunch during the hot weather, one of my friends had a bottle of water, and squirted my other mate in the armpit with it, making it look like she'd been sweating and it was going through her shirt. Then they all started laughing and joking around saying ergh you sweat loads, and eww that's nasty! I was sitting there going along with it because I didn't want to draw attention to myself by being different. Even though they were all joking around, it made me realize why I had never told anyone, and how immature people can be about the smallest of things.
I didn't have any relationships with the opposite sex until I was 16, and I felt like I had to tell him before he noticed himself. What a disaster that was! He wouldn't stop bugging me about it, and questioning things and, I wouldn't say it was bullying, but let's just say that it made me feel even worse and less confident than I already was! Lucky I ditched him and have now found someone that respects me and all my problems with my confidence and sweating too!
I know it probably seems silly that something like sweating should seem like such a problem, but it really affects my confidence and how I feel about myself. I can't wear what I want to wear because I'm always afraid of what people would say of the wet patches, and this makes me not like my appearance, so I never seem to be happy with myself. It's really nasty for me to be sat there feeling so uncomfortable and wet, and in cold weather when it starts so dry, it makes me really cold.
I never smelt, it was always just wetness, but if people saw the wetness I thought that they would automatically assume I stank, and was unclean.
~ How I tried to fix it ~
My parents began to notice things, obviously the wet patches, but also the fact that I was quite down, so it was then that we started looking at solutions.
I tried many strong antiperspirants that you have to apply at night then wash off in the morning, and repeat only a few times a week. I didn't continue with using the antiperspirants because I found that they really hurt me, it was like a really bad stinging that would get so bad that I would find myself not being able to sleep when I had it on. The good effects soon wore off for me, so we started looking for other ways to fix it. (The antiperspirants I tried were called Triple Dry, Driclor, PerpireX). Driclor was prescribed by my doctor because it's quite expensive, but since then it's now available to buy off the shelf. (My doctor didn't take me seriously at first, she didn't understand how bad it was, I ended up going to another another doctor who then reffered me to the hospital).
We then tried alternative medicines, a Homeopath. She prescribed something that would 'dry me out' basically, but this made me develop a bad cough and didn't help the sweating at all, and for £45 a session, we didn't continue.
By this point I was getting extremely desperate, and just wanted to be normal and wear what I wanted and to feel like I fitted in. I started to look at drastic measures, like operations. I wanted to have an Endoscopic Transthoracic Sympathectomy. This would involve deflating my lungs so that the surgeon can get to my Sympathetic nerves that run next to my spinal cord, they would then cut the nerves and re-inflate the lungs. The side effects; sweating in other places, and the complications that may occur; excessive bleeding, damage to surrounding organs, air trapped in your chest cavity, and Horner Syndrome, put me off having this done.
My mum was totally against this, so I looked at other operations such as:
Excision - This is where they cut the skin away! It leaves really bad scars, and doesn't heal well at all, so not many surgeons want to do this procedure.
Retrodermal Curettage - This is done under a local anaesthetic, and you can go straight home after having it done. This is where they make a small incision in the armpit and they 'scrape' the sweat glands away! This works for some but not others.
Botox was what we thought we'd go with, so we went to the doctors to get referred to the hospital so that I could have it done on the NHS. When we got there, we were told that only 2 people were allowed to have Botox on the NHS a year, and that the waiting list was extremely long! We discussed the operations however we decided to try all the other options before doing anything drastic!
~ My treatment ~
Iontophoresis was what we went with. All I knew was that it involved water and electricity! I had great fears that they were going to sit me in a bath of water and put electricity through me, I was obviously wrong!
On my first treatment they talked me through what was going to happen. There was a machine that would pass a direct current through my armpits by using two wires with electrodes on the end, the flat electrodes would have spongey pads over that have been soaked in water (one had water and the other had a solution called Gycopromium Bromide on, as using them both with water didn't help me at all). These would then be placed under my armpits for 10 minutes, then they would reverse the current and re-soak the pads. All metal below the head had to be removed, so I had to take my belly bar out.
I had to go 3 times in the first week, twice in the second week, once the week after and then once more the week after that. After my course of treatment I had seen quite a vast improvement! I was so happy! I could wear what I wanted and I felt so much more confident!
~ What next? ~
We were told that the machines were available to buy for home use, so we got given a website where we would be able to buy one from: www.iontophoresis.info/
They cost around £300 depending on which one you have, and all the leads and pads you need too.
I got my machine extremely quickly after ordering it, however to complete my treatment I would need the Gycopromium Bromide solution to soak the pads in, this costs £80 a bottle to buy (!!) but luckily it's available on prescription! One bottle lasts me around 3 months, and I use it sparingly so I can get the most out of it!
~ Conclusion ~
I use my machine around 2 times a week, for around 20 minutes (10 minutes per armpit then you have to swap the electrodes round). One of the leads is black and the other is red so you don't get confused, the hospital always told me, red to right, so I make sure I always do this first.
The effects last around 2 to 3 days for me, but it varies from person to person.
I feel normal now :D
Recently I have noticed that my Ionto machine has been having little, if not no effect on my sweating anymore. It's getting me down again, I thought that for once I had found something that could actually help me, but good things never last long!
I have been referred back to the hospital, as I have asked to be put on the waiting list for Botox. Apparently, the time in between each treatment gets longer the more you have it; meaning that the gap between the 1st and 2nd treatment may last 3 months, then the gap between the 2nd and 3rd may last 5 months, and so on. I thought I would give this a go seeing as I'm starting to get desperate. I cry almost everyday now, I really wish I could be normal.
I will update this again once I've had my appointment!
Don't think that just because you're sweating this means you've got Hyperhidrosis, but do some research if you're worried, I did, and now it's better!
I really hope that this can help some people, I really needed to read peoples experiences when I was really down to feel like I wasn't alone and that I wasn't the only one, so I just hope that this has helped at least one other person!
Thank you so much for reading!