Living with hyperhidrosis can be challenging. The contents of this article may seem like too much personal information about bodily functions for some people, however, I feel that hyperhidrosis is something that is not talked about a lot in the chronic illness community. We need to delve into the TMI (too much information) realm to discuss it.
I used to think that I was a gross freak of nature for sweating so much, but after connecting with other people who experience a similar thing I realized that it is more common than I thought.
What is hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is abnormally excessive sweating that is not always related to heat or exercise. Someone with hyperhidrosis may sweat so much that it soaks their clothes and drips down their face and hands. People normally sweat when they exercise, are hot, are anxious or under stress. The sweat that accompanies hyperhidrosis far exceeds this normal level of sweating. Hyperhidrosis can also be made worse by factors such as heat, exercise, sweat, stress or anxiety.
Primary Focal (Essential) Hyperhidrosis
The most common form of hyperhidrosis is primary focal (essential) hyperhidrosis. This occurs when the nerves responsible for
Secondary hyperhidrosis occurs when it is a symptom of another medical issue. It is more likely to cause widespread excessive sweating than primary hyperhidrosis. Conditions that may result in excessive sweating can include:
- Thyroid issues
- Some types of cancer
- Heart issues
- Nervous system disorders
Some medications can also cause excessive sweating.
Experiencing Fibromyalgia with Hyperhidrosis
My secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by my severe fibromyalgia, which is a central nervous system disorder. While some of the medications can cause secondary hyperhidrosis, my experiences with excessive sweating began in childhood, long before I started taking these specific medications, but after I started suffering from chronic pain.
Of course, weight can impact how much you sweat, and I am overweight. However, as said above, I have been experiencing this excessive sweating since before I was even a teenager, and I weighed nothing close then to what I weigh now.
How Hyperhidrosis Impacts Social Situations
Work: If your job is in any way stressful and you deal with hyperhidrosis, you may find you sweat a lot at work. If you work around others, such as in a customer relations role or in the office, the excess sweating may make you anxious about how others may perceive you. This anxiety may impact your productivity if it becomes severe. Hyperhidrosis may also impact your opportunity of gaining new employment if it becomes problematic during job interviews. Since sweating is usually a sign of anxiety, even the calmest person with hyperhidrosis may look extremely anxious to the interviewer. This could have a severe impact as to whether you are chosen for the job. Shaking hands can also be a source of anxiety particularly if you have primary focal hyperhidrosis which causes sweaty palms.
Night clubs: As a young adult, every once in awhile I like to go to a night club and dance with my friends. Even though I find this extremely draining, I like to experience just a few hours of normality. Many nightclubs are crowded and warm. Hello Extreme Flare! It can be difficult to enjoy myself knowing that I have sweat visibly dripping down my face. This can also impact my chances of meeting new people and starting new relationships. , The excessive sweating may cause people to judge me before they get to know me. This is definitely a disadvantage for the single girl like me.
Any social occasion: Hyperhidrosis can impact any situation. Going to a café, a theme park, the beach, the movies and attending school are all different for a person that has to consider excessive sweat. Hyperhidrosis and extra sweating can become a source of anxiety at any time, but when it’s flaring especially when it’s flaring.
Tips and Tricks for Coping With Hyperhidrosis and Excessive Sweating
Now that I’ve listed the ways hyperhidrosis may negatively impact social situations, I will now tell you my tips and tricks for coping with hyperhidrosis and living with excessive sweating that I have developed throughout my own experience.
The facial sweating that is the result if hyperhidrosis can ruin any makeup you may be wearing. I personally love wearing makeup every once in a while for nights out or on a day I feel like dressing up. Unfortunately, if I’m not careful with what products I use my makeup can end up dripping down my face. Utilizing a good primer and a waterproof foundation and concealer are a good start. Make sure your mascara and eyeliner is waterproof if you enjoy using those products. You can even find inexpensive brands at your local retailer and online. Many brands meet these suggestions.
Dressing in Light Layers
Very many people live in a place where the weather can go from cold to hot within a few hours. Dressing in light layers is the way to go. If you also suffer from temperature control issues spring layering is good strategy for you, too. Utilize cardigans because not only are they light but they also don’t take up too much room in a bag while out and about. If it is chilly in the morning wear a t-shirt and a cardigan over top. It is easy to take take it off later on in the day.
This may seem a bit extreme, but if you’re prone to over-heating on a regular basis like I am, a portable fan can be invaluable. I got one for $8 from The Warehouse, and I love it. It’s rechargeable by USB and has multiple levels of intensity. This would be perfect for days at university during summer, long days of traveling, or days when you’re spending a lot of time outside in the heat.
Apply Multiple Layers of Antiperspirant
With secondary hyperhidrosis the sweat under your arms can become excessive and can be very hard to manage. Recently I have started using multiple layers of antiperspirant using two different types and I find this helps well for summer. I use a cream antiperspirant under my arms first and then a spray antiperspirant on top. While this does not completely stop underarm hyperhidrosis it does make it more manageable. There are some more aggressive options you may discuss with your health provider in some places.
Body Wipes and Shower-less Body Wash
If you have hyperhidrosis and live with excessive sweating in addition to chronic illness then managing your hygiene can be very difficult. Bathing, for example, can be very difficult for those who experience symptoms such as chronic pain and fatigue. Some days many Chargie’s do not have the energy to shower. Other days I may end up perspiring a lot requiring multiple showers. In these cases it is convenient to use deodorant body wipes or shower-less body wash. Deodorant wipes are targeted especially at lessening odor. Shower-less body wash can be used without washing it off and do the same thing.
Many people like to use baby wipes in the place of deodorant body wipes. I find that baby wipes don’t work very well in comparison. Products specifically targeted at killing sweat caused germs and odor do a much better job, and I find that body wipes are more moist with product, therefore you end up using less wipes.
When you experience hyperhidrosis and living with excessive sweating it can feel very isolating. However, there are things you can do that make coping with it a bit easier. It was also helpful for me to learn that isn’t something that I go through alone. Surrounding yourself will people who understand your condition can also make a huge difference. Having a non-judgmental environment can become your social safe space. I know that when I start sweating excessively my close friends won’t judge me for it. Therefore I never become anxious about it around them.
Amy Clements is a 20-year-old who has lived with chronic pain, the result of Fibromyalgia, since childhood. In her teens she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in her wrist, which was the result of a netball injury. Amy lives in New Zealand and studies Business part-time at University. She enjoys reading novels and writing. She especially enjoys writing about her experience with chronic illness.