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Factors that Make Hyperhidrosis Worse
Hyperhidrosis Treatments
Treatments for Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
Can Iontophoresis Make Sweating Worse?
Written by Katie Crissman
October 01 2020

Iontophoresis is a treatment for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis that uses an electrical current delivered through water to decrease excessive sweating. It is has been used as a treatment for over 70 years and has withstood the test of time. Scientific studies have shown that iontophoresis really does work, doctors regularly prescribe it, and side effects are reported to be mild.[1] However, some patients think that iontophoresis can actually increase their already excessive sweating. Is this true? It is hard to say. It appears on message boards across the internet, new users asking questions like “Can iontophoresis make my sweating worse?” Many users claim that iontophoresis is an effective treatment but admit that it did increase their sweat production when they first started treatment. While this may be the case for some individuals, it does not appear that any studies have specifically looked into the phenomenon. The good news is that most people who claim that iontophoresis did increase their sweating at first say it eventually did lead to a reduction in sweat. So, if you experience increased sweating when you first start iontophoresis keep trying and you will most likely see good results.

Iontophoresis is a mysterious treatment and no one is quite sure how it works. Some theories posit that iontophoresis plugs sweat glands as a result of ion deposition, blocks sympathetic nerve transmission, or decreases the pH of skin as the result of the accumulation of hydrogen ions. At any rate, studies have shown that about 91% of people respond positively to treatment. When side effects do occur during studies they are usually mild and don’t involve an increase in sweat production. The side effects that have been recorded include redness of the skin, small shocks, scratches, cuts, discomfort (feeling of pins and needles), vesiculation, and dry or cracked skin. Many of these side effects are caused by people using iontophoresis incorrectly and often go away after patients learn how to perform iontophoresis correctly. Some people find that iontophoresis doesn't work and there are ways to make it make it more effective. One study that looked at the effectiveness of iontophoresis over time did note that one patient out of 27 experienced a worsening of symptoms between week 3 and week 4 of the experiment.[2] However, the study still demonstrated the effectiveness of iontophoresis over time.

It is not known why some people appear to experience a worsening of symptoms after beginning iontophoresis but it doesn’t seem to impact the effectiveness of the treatment over time. If you experience a worsening of your hyperhidrosis symptoms after starting iontophoresis it is best to talk to your doctor so you can form a plan of action. If iontophoresis does not work for you, there are other effective treatments for for sweaty hands and sweaty feet.

Sources
  1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
  2. Kim, D. H., Kim, T. H., Lee, S. H., & Lee, A. Y. (2017). Treatment of Palmar Hyperhidrosis with Tap Water Iontophoresis: A Randomized, Sham-Controlled, Single-Blind, and Parallel-Designed Clinical Trial. Ann Dermatol, 29(6), 728-734. doi:10.5021/ad.2017.29.6.728
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Factors that Make Hyperhidrosis Worse

5 Foolproof Ways to Survive Football Season When You Sweat a Lot

By JP Carter /

Football season is finally rolling around as the weather cools off, but some players struggle with sweat problems as the season heats up. Athletes are known to sweat copiously when they are performing - it is a sign of health as it is the body’s only physiological adaptation to keep itself cool. In fact, those who are more fit tend to sweat more than those who are not because they can workout at a greater workload which generates more heat. However, at a certain point sweating can become an issue for athletes trying to perform at an optimal level.[1] This is true for athletes in all types of sports, but it can be especially pertinent to football players as they participate in such a high impact sport and come in such varied shapes and sizes. One study found that linebackers tend to sweat more, on average, than other types of players due to the size of their bodies. Their overall larger size caused them to generate more heat while working out and thus produce more sweat[2] While a linebacker producing more sweat than a smaller player is normal and makes sense, some players make such large quantities of sweat that it interferes with their performance.

So, how much sweat is too much? There is a large natural variation in the amount of sweat physiologically normal people produce. One person can produce twice as much sweat as another and still be within the normal range. However, some people sweat so much that it indicates that they may have a condition called primary focal hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes people to sweat in excess of what the body needs to maintain its internal temperature. People with the condition may sweat four to five times as much as a normal person. Hyperhidrosis usually causes excessive sweating to happen on specific parts of the body like the hands, feet, armpits, face, and occasionally the back and groin. It is not a dangerous condition, but it can have damaging consequences for football players who have it. It affects around 3% of the population so it is not uncommon. If you have the following symptoms you may be struggling with hyperhidrosis:

  • You sweat excessively even in cool conditions when you aren’t working out
  • You sweat from specific areas of your body like the hands, feet, armpits, or face
  • The amount of sweat you produce causes you to have functional issues when you are trying to play football[3]
  • If sweat is interfering with your ability to play football then check out these tips to get your sweating under control and your focus back in the game.

    #1 Wear the Right Gear

    As many athletes know, it is imperative to wear the right type of clothing when performing. This is also the case when it comes to protecting yourself from sweat. If you have hyperhidrosis, or even if you just sweat a lot, wearing the right clothing during a workout session can protect you from chafing, skin breakdown, and irritation.[4] The most important clothes for people who sweat excessively are underwear and socks.This is because they are the clothes that will come in contact with your sweat the most. The best type of underwear tend to be manufactured by athletic brands. It is best to go with underwear that is made from new types of fabrics that have moisture wicking technology. This advice holds up for athletic socks as well. These materials will keep sweat away from your skin and keep it dryer for longer.

    When buying clothes to workout in try and find shirts and pants made out of natural, lightweight fibers - like cotton. These types of fabrics are breathable and absorbent allow sweat to transfer away from the skin. You may not have as much choice of what to wear when you are in an actual game, but keeping your skin safe during practices can ensure that you are ready to perform on days when you have less control over your wardrobe.

    You may also want to try:

  • Wearing a headband if you struggle with sweat dripping and burning your face.
  • Use gloves to prevent slippage when throwing and catching the ball.
  • Wear extra padding under your uniform if you are worried about sweat leaking through to the outside.
  • #2 Use Antiperspirant and Powder to Improve Grip

    Antiperspirant is a must have for anyone with excessive sweating, especially athletes. Antiperspirant allows skin to produce less sweat by forming a superficial plug within sweat glands.You can use antiperspirant on specific problem areas of your body which makes it even more ideal for athletes. For example, if you are struggling with your grip on the ball you can apply antiperspirant to your hands so you won’t sweat as much from them. This way it won’t affect the rest of your body. Antiperspirant is the first line treatment doctors recommend for hyperhidrosis because it works locally and it is considered to be very effective.[5] Powders, like baby powder, can also be useful to keep your hands and feet from slipping when you have extra sweat. They can be applied before practice or a game and have virtually no side effects. You can find over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis, like antiperspirants and powders, at your local pharmacy or grocery store. There are several types and brands to choose from. Some brands, like Carpe, have antiperspirant lotion that is useful for sensitive skin. The same brand make a groin powder to help cut down on chafing and discomfort. Other brands offer antiperspirants that come in spray, roll on, and stick forms. It is important to read labels and stay informed so you can choose the right antiperspirant for you.

    #3 Protect Yourself from Jock Itch

    ock itch, as the name implies, is a common ailment for male athletes. It is a type of fungal infection that is medically referred to as tinea cruris. It is caused by a type of fungus called ringworm and it thrives on warm moist areas of the body. It can be a common problem for people who deal with excessive sweating on a regular basis, especially athletes. You may have ringworm if you are experiencing the following around the area of the groin:

  • Itching and burning
  • Red, scaly rash with raised edges
  • Cracking, flaking, or peeling skin[6]
  • If you suspect that you have jock itch then you need to treat it. Most cases can be resolved fairly easily with an over-the-counter antifungal. It is easy to prevent jock itch by doing the following:

  • Showering frequently, especially after sweating
  • Don’t share your personal items like towels with others
  • Wear clean clothes and change after a workout
  • Wear loose fitting clothes and switch to boxers if you have an ongoing problem[6]
  • #4 Check Your Anxiety Levels for Better Performance

    Hyperhidrosis and anxiety are closely related as anxiety can be a result of the condition and it can also make it worse. This can be especially pertinent for football players as performance anxiety prior to games can make sweating worse which can, in turn, affect performance. If you are dealing with anxiety try to find ways to relax so that you focus on your game and not on your sweat. There are some relaxation techniques like meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis, and yoga that have been shown to reduce stress, and in some cases, reduce sweating.[7] Working on your anxiety will help you focus better on football, improve your skills, and reduce your sweating. If anxiety is a big problem for you then talking to a doctor can help.

    #5 Stay Clean

    This may seem obvious, but it is imperative that athletes who have been sweating profusely shower after every workout. This won’t reduce the amount you sweat, but it will improve other associated problems. It is a good idea to shower and use antibacterial soap, especially after touching equipment used by many other people. This is prevent bacteria on the surface of your skin from breaking down sweat and producing foul smelling byproducts and it will reduce your chance of catching fungal and bacterial infections. When you sweat often it is important to prevent skin breakdown and staying clean is necessary for that. It is also a good idea to change into clean clothes after every workout. If you decide to apply antiperspirant it is best to do so later in the day after a shower when your skin is dry.[8]

    If these tips aren’t cutting it and you are still struggling with sweat, then it may be time to see a doctor. There are several effective treatments available for people with hyperhidrosis and they can improve your ability to play football as well as your quality of life if you need them. Don't give up and give it your best this season!

    Sources
    1. Heid, M. (2015, July 8). You Asked: Is It Healthy to Sweat A Lot? Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/3947804/sweating-healthy/
    2. Godek, S. F., Bartolozzi, A. R., Burkholder, R. B., Sugarman, E., & Peduzzi, C. (2008). Sweat Rates and Fluid Turnover in Professional Football Players: A Comparison of National Football League Linemen and Backs. Journal of Athletic Training, 184–189. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267333/
    3. Doheny, K. (n.d.). How Much Sweating Is Too Much? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/dont-sweat-it#1
    4. Doheny, K. (n.d.). When You Sweat Too Much. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/dont-sweat-it#1
    5. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    6. What Causes Jock Itch? Can You Prevent It? (2019, May 15). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/men/causes-and-prevent-jock-itch#1
    7. Shenefelt, P. D. (2017). Use of Hypnosis, Meditation, and Biofeedback in Dermatology. Clinics in Dermatology. doi:10.1016/J.clindermatol.2017.01.007
    8. Excessive Sweating: Treatment Tips. (2017, October 21). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hyperhidrosis-treatment-11#1
    Body Areas Affected by Hyperhidrosis

    Can Athlete’s Foot Cause Sweating?

    By JP Carter /

    The answer is “no” - Athlete’s foot does not make you sweat more, but it can make excessive sweating even more uncomfortable than it already was. Here is an in-depth look at what Athlete’s foot really is and how excessive sweating impacts it.

    Athlete’s foot, known scientifically as tinea pedis, is caused by a fungal infection (called dermatophytes) that affects the skin of the feet, especially the skin between the toes. The fungus causes skin to redden and crack and the affected areas are often flaky and itchy. Sometimes affected skin can also become inflamed. The fungus is able to infect a foot when it enters the top layer of the skin through small cracks or wounds. The infection can be passed on from person to person through direct contact or when someone steps on infected flakes of skin from another person. In order to grow and thrive, the fungus that causes Athlete’s foot needs a dark, moist environment and feet provide the perfect breeding ground due to those conditions. Furthermore, the skin of the feet contain large amounts of Keratin which the fungus feed on. There are certain risk factors that make it more likely for someone to develop Athlete’s foot, these include:

  • Genetic predisposition (seems to affect some families more than others)
  • History of allergies and eczema
  • Excessively sweaty feet (history of hyperhidrosis)
  • A weakened immune system
  • Poor circulation in the legs
  • Playing certain sports, particularly running and swimming[1]
  • Athlete’s foot appears to be a very common problem as anywhere between 3% and 15% of the population are thought to struggle with it at any given time. It is not physically dangerous, but it typically won’t go away on it’s own. Therefore, it is important for people with the condition to seek treatment.[1] While no studies have shown that Athlete’s foot causes people to sweat more, it has been noted that excessive sweating of the feet makes the development of Athlete’s foot much more likely. This is especially true for people who suffer from a condition called primary focal hyperhidrosis.[2] Hyperhidrosis causes people to sweat excessively from specific parts of the body like the hands, feet, armpits, face, and head. It affects about 3% of the US population making hyperhidrosis quite common, like Athlete’s foot.[3] The reason so many people with hyperhidrosis develop Athlete’s foot is because the condition causes the feet to constantly produce sweat which promotes the exact environment fungus need to thrive.[2] Luckily, there are several effective ways to prevent Athlete’s foot and manage the symptoms of hyperhidrosis.

    How To Prevent Athlete’s Foot

    Preventing Athlete’s foot predominantly consists of specific types of self-care to keep feet dry and certain precautions to limit exposure to infectants. Often times, treating hyperhidrosis symptoms, which are how you stop foot sweat and its odor, can greatly reduce the likelihood of developing a fungal infection like Athlete’s foot. Here are some practical solutions you can use to make your feet a less habitable environment for the fungi that cause Athlete’s foot:

  • Thoroughly drying feet after any activity that gets them wet. This includes activities like showering, bathing, swimming, or after sweating profusely while wearing shoes.
  • Wearing breathable shoes that don’t constrict your feet.
  • Not wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row. It can be useful to have two pairs of shoes that you alternate each day.
  • Taking shoes off and airing out feet as frequently as possible.[1]
  • If you are suffering from hyperhidrosis and practical lifestyle changes are not enough to keep your feet dry, then you may want to consider other treatments for sweaty feet. These include treatment options like using over-the-counter topical treatments like antiperspirant to more invasive procedures like botox injections.[3] Due to the fact that hyperhidrosis treatments reduce the amount of moisture your feet are exposed to they can drastically reduce the likelihood that you will develop Athlete’s foot.[2]

    In addition to maintaining a dry pedal environment, it is also important for people to limit their exposure to the fungi that cause Athlete’s foot. Here are some tips to avoid contracting it:

  • Wear your own flip flops when swimming, using communal showers, and using communal changing rooms.
  • Do not share towels, shoes, and socks with other people.
  • Wash all towels, bedding, and socks in hot water that is greater than 60 degrees C.
  • Add antifungal laundry sanitizer if you wash your laundry at a lower temperature.[1]
  • How to Treat Athlete’s Foot

    Due to the fact that Athlete’s foot is so common, even when practicing prevention procedures, people often develop the condition at some point in their lives. In most cases, Athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter remedies that are available at local pharmacies. These treatments come in the form of creams, gels, or sprays that contain an active ingredient that stops fungal growth of kills off fungus completely. In rare cases, tablets can be prescribed for people who haven’t had success with over-the-counter treatment options. There are also natural remedies that people use, which include tea tree oil some herbal foot bath solutions, although there is not scientific evidence that they are effective.[1]

    Once you have treated Athlete’s foot it is important that you continue to use preventative care practices so that you don’t develop it again. If you do also happen to suffer from hyperhidrosis, then getting treatment for it should keep your feet more comfortable and prevent you from developing Athlete’s foot as easily. There are many effective treatment options and it is important to make sure that you are taking proper care of the skin on your feet.

    Sources
    1. Athlete's foot: Overview. (2015). Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279549/
    2. Common Complications of Hyperhidrosis. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/common-complications-of-hyperhidrosis
    3. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    Causes of Hyperhidrosis

    Hot Flashes, Menopause, and Sweating

    By Katie Crissman /

    Everyone will experience the effects of aging as they get older, but only 50% of the population will go on to deal with the symptoms and changes that occur with menopause. Menopause is a natural part of the aging process for women and it usually begins some time in a woman’s 40s, although it can occur a few years earlier or later. It is the process that occurs when a woman’s fertility begins to decline and she is no longer able to bear children or experience a period. There are three distinct phases of menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Perimenopause is the first stage of menopause in which women begin ovulating less frequently and they often experience less frequent periods and physical symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, and other hormonal shifts. Menopause officially begins when a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months.[1]

    Menopause can be a frustrating time for many women because of the physical side effects that occur as a result, especially hot flashes and night sweats. As many as 75% of women will experience hot flashes at some point during perimenopause and menopause, making it a very common symptom. Hot flashes can feel intense and last anywhere from one to five minutes each. Their frequency varies for each woman, some only experience a few a week while others have several hot flashes a day. Some women will also experience night sweats - bouts of intense sweating that only occur during sleep. While hot flashes and night sweats may sound benign, they can be incredibly frustrating, and even debilitating, for some people.[2]

    What Causes Hot Flashes and Night Sweats?

    No one is entirely sure what causes hot flashes and night sweats to occur, but most doctors agree that it most likely has something to do with fluctuating, and often decreasing estrogen levels that menopausal women experience. Researchers suspect that dropping estrogen levels affect the part of the brain that controls temperature. The body has an acceptable window of what a person’s normal internal temperature can be and it is suspected that decreasing levels of estrogen make this window more narrow. This means that external temperatures can more easily cause a rise in body temperature. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself down. So, when a woman’s body senses that her internal temperature has risen more than it should it reacts by dilating blood vessels and sweating. This is when a woman experiences a hot flash.[2]

    There are a few other theories about the causes of hot flashes and night sweats, although they are not currently proven. The first theory suggests that some women have especially sensitive skin during this time which makes them more prone to experiencing vasodilation and sweating. The second implies that menopause causes an imbalance in the hormone leptin which can in turn cause blood sugar imbalances. These blood sugar imbalances are then thought to cause hot flashes, and possibly night sweats. No matter what the cause, night sweats and hot flashes are hard to deal with![2]

    Interestingly, hot flashes and night sweats are considered to be a type of secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. This means that they are a type of excessive sweating that is caused by an underlying medical state or condition. Luckily, there are several medical and practical solutions for this type of sweating. The most effective treatments focus on eliminating the underlying cause while others aim to minimize symptoms and reduce their impact on a person’s quality of life.[3]

    Medications that Can Help

    There are a few medical treatments that can help women who experience hot flashes. The most effective treatment is called menopause hormone therapy (MHT), it is also sometimes known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This type of therapy consists of patients taking a combination of hormones, most often estrogen and progesterone, to keep their hormone levels stable while they are going through menopause. It can greatly reduce symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, vaginal dryness, and sleep problems. Unfortunately, MHT can be dangerous for some women and it can cause alarming side effects in others. Studies have shown that women using hormone replacement therapy are at an increased risk of developing heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. This is similar to the risk women take when they use hormonal birth control, but the effects can be more likely to occur in women of a more advanced age. Some evidence suggests that non oral forms of hormone replacement may reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.[1][2]

    Some other medications can be used for women who can take hormones. SSRIs, which are normally used to treat depression, can be taken in a lower dose to reduce sweating in some people. Ironically, SSRIs can also be a cause of secondary hyperhidrosis in some people so watch out for increased sweating if you choose to try them. Another medication used to treat seizures called Neurontin can be beneficial for some. Finally, a medication called clonidine which is normally used to treat high blood pressure can be useful in reducing symptoms for some people.[2]

    Other Ways to Improve Symptoms

    While medications work well for some people, others prefer to treat their symptoms naturally. There are several practical things you can do to reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. Here are some solutions that may help you:

  • Lose weight: Studies have shown that overweight women who lost weight had a lower frequency of hot flashes than those who did not.
  • Exercise: This is not confirmed by a study, but it is suspected that exercise lessens the amount of hot flashes people experience.
  • Stop smoking: Smoking is related to a higher frequency of hot flashes, so reducing or quitting can have a positive effect.
  • Avoid trigger foods and beverages: Caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods have been shown to trigger excessive sweating.
  • Use other strategies to manage sweat: Use other means to manage your sweat like dressing in layers, staying in cooler temperatures, and avoiding stress.[2]
  • Some people have claimed success when they use certain supplements or employ dietary changes. Eating more soy is thought to reduce hot flashes, although this is currently not supported by studies. Other supplements like DHEA, dong quai, ginseng, kava, and red clover have been used by some to manage symptoms. However, no scientific evidence has yet backed the claims that these supplements work up as of yet. Any time you decide to use supplements it is important to consult a doctor and they can cause side effects and interact with other medications.[2]

    Sources
    1. Scaccia, A. (2018, May 16). How Long Do Symptoms of Menopause Last? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/how-long-does-menopause-last
    2. Suszynski, M. (n.d.). Menopause and Sweating. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/menopause/features/menopause-sweating-11#1
    3. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    4. Santoro, N., pperson, C. N., & Mathews, S. B. (2016). Menopausal Symptoms and Their Management. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am., 44(3), 497–515. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890704/
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