Now here is a topic of conversation that no-one ever wants to delve into. Personally I can’t bring myself to say the word ‘armpits’. Ugh. I always have to refer to them as ‘underarms’. But why is it such a taboo topic? Why am I so grossed out by the word pits?
Sweating. Although it’s a natural process and happens to us all, it’s something that great concern for the majority of us. It doesn’t help when the media portrays it as something to be ashamed of. They had a field day when Halle Berry went onto the Ellen DeGeneres show and revealed her sweaty patches to the audience. The Daily Mail captioned each image with the words, ‘unsightly’, ‘clean-up’ and ’embarrassing’. Ouch!
How many of you can recall looking down to see two nice big round patches adorning your beautiful satin blouse and feeling like you never want to reach up high for anything ever again?! For some, this will occur on hot days, or maybe the occasional moment throughout the year, but for others this will occur on a day to day basis, known as excessive sweating, or Hyperhidrosis.
Did you know that more than 1.93 million people in the UK are affected by Hyperhidrosis? Even in their calmest, coolest moments sweating will persist and although it doesn’t pose a serious threat, it can be embarrassing and distressing. The inconvenience of it can also have a negative impact on your quality of life. So it can be reassuring to know that there are solutions available from the mild to the extreme and everything in between.
If regular antiperspirants do not control your excessive sweating, an antiperspirant containing Aluminium Chloride is usually the first line of treatment.
AHC20, manufactured in Switzerland, is great for sensitive skin. It’s applied to the surface of the skin and plugs the sweat glands thereby reducing the volume of sweat that reaches the skin’s surface. Simply put 1 drop of AHC20 fluid onto your fingertip and apply it quickly to the deepest part of your underarm. Your sweat glands are concentrated right there, in an area not bigger than a 10-Pence coin, so usually 3 drops will do the trick.
For something a little bit stronger, try Driclor Roll On Solution. Apply it before going to bed at night and allow it to dry naturally in order to block the sweat glands while they are least active. It should be washed off in the morning with soap and water. The sweat glands will then remain blocked during the day. Make sure you don’t re-apply in the morning or use other antiperspirants as well. To begin with, you should apply Driclor every night until your sweating is controlled in the day. You can then reduce how often you apply it – you may need to only apply it twice a week or less to keep your sweating under control. Bear in mind that if your skin is getting irritated you are probably using the product too often. Oh, and a final tip, don’t use this directly after shaving. If your skin is broken when applied, the area will become severely irritated.
It may the drug of choice for numerous Hollywood faces,but did you know that it can stop you from sweating for 3-6 months per dose?! Botox is a preparation of protein which, when small doses are injected into the skin, blocks the nerves that supply the eccrine glands; this prevents the glands from producing sweat. The down sides? It usually takes about a week to kick in and in some circumstances you may notice sweating in a different area, such as hands or feet. It’s also quite an uncomfortable procedure as you’re injected a numbered of times each session.
If nothing else works and you are quite desperate for a solution, the final choice is surgery. But be warned, many patients have complained of compensatory sweating from other glands within the body, especially with Endoscopic Transthoracic Sympathectomy (interruption of transmission of nerve signals from the spinal column) which I wont even be writing about, let alone recommending.
Retrodermal Curretage can be performed under local anaesthetic as an out-patient procedure and patients can return home immediately after the surgery. A small incision is made in the axillae (armpits) and the sweat glands are literally scraped away, with antibiotic ointment introduced into the puncture wound. Sweating ceases at once and as early as 4-6 weeks when the puncture incisions are almost invisible. By 4-6 months postoperatively, physiological sweating returns (exercise/heat), but in most cases the hyperhidrosis does not return. There are currently only 3 practitioners of this surgery in the UK and it will cost you around £1000 for private treatment.
But the one I would recommend is a relatively new treatment to hit the UK shores, thanks to Mr Mark Whiteley at the Whiteley Clinic, called Laser Sweat Ablation. The procedure starts with an iodine test to show the exact areas of sweating in the armpit, which are then marked. A local anaesthetic is injected into each side and a 3mm incision is made through which the operation is performed. After loosening the skin of the armpit, a laser is put inside the skin and fired, destroying the sweat glands. Once destroyed, the sweat glands are removed by suction. Due to the size of the incisions, all wounds should be healed in 3 – 5 days, with a return to exercise or heavy physical activity within 2 weeks.
Now you see it…. Now you don’t