Treatment Methods – Axillary Hyperhidrosis

In order to begin treating axillary hyperhidrosis, we hereby present a number of treatment methods, which will be explained in detail later on.

  • Axillary sweat gland removal surgery
  • Axillary sweat gland suction surgery
  • Botulinum toxin injections (Botox)
  • Aluminum chloride
  • Armpit sweat pads
  • Medication
  • Electric shock treatment
  • Deodorants
  • Natural solutions, relaxation techniques, and apparel

Axillary sweat gland removal surgery:

The first type is the “sympathectomy” surgery, which disconnects neural connections from sweat glands, and as such reduces their activity level.

For many years, such a surgical treatment was the common selection for axillary hyperhidrosis. During the surgery, an extensive abscission of the axillary skin is done, with or without removing subcutaneous tissue. Such a procedure leaves the patient with large scars, a long healing process of the wound, and a limited movement of the shoulders and arms. Another outcome is hair loss in the armpit area.

This surgery has a side effect known as “compensative sweating”, meaning hyperhidrosis in other areas of the body, reddish skin over the body and face, weakness in certain muscles, and sinking of the upper eyelids. In light of the aforementioned reasons, this surgery is not as common these days.

Axillary sweat gland suction surgery:

This type of surgery is aimed at a direct treatment of sweat glands. This has been a popular surgery for the past 10 years.

In this surgery, a hole is done in the armpit, through which a thin tube is inserted. The tube scratches and sucks the tiny glands located in the subcutaneous tissue. 

The operation is done under full anesthesia and lasts about an hour. 

After a few hours the patient may be released from the hospital. The armpits are bandaged for two days, and may be removed afterwards. The patient must avoid using deodorants and antiperspirants for 1-2 weeks, in accordance with the healing rate.

It should be noted that the purpose of the surgery is to enable the patient’s body to reach a normal or tolerated level of sweat, and not cease sweating definitively.

The operation success rate is about 90%. 10% of patients do not experience a decrease in sweating levels, or a decrease to a tolerable level. For them the surgery may be redone after a year. For patients experiencing positive results, sweating did not return for about 4-5 years.

The advantages of this method are small incisions, faster recovery rate, less tissue trauma, and the ability to perform the procedure with just a very light general anesthesia. 

Botulinum toxin injections (Botox):

Botulinum toxin (Botox) is an actively used substance in many medicine fields. The latest use of it is in axillary hyperhidrosis treatment.

Botox is a derivative of the lethal toxin botulinum, produced by Allergan. Botox is used by many doctors for cosmetic treatments, such as reducing facial wrinkles, and it is also used in axillary hyperhidrosis prevention.

Botox works by blocking the nerve tips, which paralyzes the small muscles adjacent to the sweat glands. This action causes the sweat secretion over the skin to stop. Botox injections that are inserted to the skin correctly, in any sweaty area, are effective without a shadow of a doubt, but their “life time” is relatively short. Botox is a temporary solution until wrinkles appear in the armpits, therefore should not be considered as a permanent solution. The injections are relatively painful and treatments are expensive. The final treatment usually lasts 4-6 months. Usually, a series of repeated injections will be performed 2-3 times a year. The usage of a very small needle might soften the discomfort. Side effects of injections are miniscule, if at all, and a trained doctor will administer them professionally.

Aluminum chloride:

Aluminum chloride is used as antiperspirant for axillary hyperhidrosis. Aluminum ions are pulled into the cells padding the sweat gland tubes. When ions attract into the cells, water in the cells come in contact with them. The cells slowly begin to bloat, which causes the sweat tubes to shut down; this way the sweat is no released out of the skin.

Eventually, after some time, the water concentration inside the cells reaches equilibrium. When this happens, water begins to leave the cells by an osmosis process. Swelling drops and sweat can now leave the body.

This could serve as a good enough axillary hyperhidrosis solution for some people, yet, over 50% of patients report a need for more advanced procedures in order to control the axillary hyperhidrosis syndrome.

A common side effect associated with aluminum chloride use is severe itching of the skin, often requires a treatment cessation. 

Armpit sweat pads (iDry):

Nowadays, a number of companies market armpit sweat pads. This is a unique clothing protection, with high absorption abilities, and it is thin and sticks directly and covertly to clothes. They can usually be found in different sizes, in accordance with the amount of sweat and the size of the armpit area.

 The pad is built from 2 layers. On one side there is fabric adhesive. Its other side is made of soft cotton, guaranteeing a soft and comfortable friction with the armpit area. When you begin to sweat during the day, the pad acts as a “shield”, preventing sweat to reach the shirt, so that the shirt remains clean and dry.

This solution is effective, it is suitable for most clothes and fabrics, and does not cause side effects. Nevertheless, this is but a temporary solution which does not cease sweating but only prevents the embarrassment it causes.

Medication:

Axillary hyperhidrosis preventive medications are meant to block the nerves connecting the small nerve tips of the sweat glands. These medications include anticholinergics, beta blockers, and Benzodiazapines. These medications should be taken on a daily basis, in order to entirely prevent axillary hyperhidrosis.

Taking such medications for a long period of time is not such a good idea; there are many severe side effects, such as dizziness, dry mouth, pupil dilation; all of these worsen with alcohol consumption. In addition, in severe hyperhidrosis cases, more advanced treatments should be taken into account.

Electric shock treatment:

Shock treatment, also called Iontophoresis. Some devices make use of electrical currents, transmitted to the skin in order to disorient the sweat gland function, and in such prevent hyperhidrosis. Usage must be repeated often in order to obtain satisfactory results, and could not serve as a permanent solution of axillary hyperhidrosis.

Deodorants:

Nowadays, there are many deodorant types containing aluminum chloride, which, as aforementioned, might be effective in axillary hyperhidrosis prevention. The most effective and strong deodorants contain a lot of aluminum chloride. This ingredient is considered the most efficient in sweat prevention. One must make sure that the amount of aluminum is at least 10%. This is a higher dosage than any common over the counter deodorants. Anything above 15% usually requires prescription. However, it is not always safe to use – especially for a pregnant woman.

What is called “natural” will usually be less effective. Also, normal deodorants aren’t usually strong enough, since they are meant only to disguise the smell and not really block the pores.

Natural solutions, relaxation techniques, and apparel:

It’s possible to change your diet in order to try to prevent axillary hyperhidrosis. It’s is recommended not to smoke or drink alcohol. You shouldn’t consume a lot of caffeine either, or eat too much junk food. You should drink plenty of water, in order to cool the body. This will also assist in removing toxins from your body in other ways than just sweat. Stay away from spicy foods that will surely raise your body temperature and stimulate the sweat glands.

You can also drink herbal tea on a daily basis. Tea is an excellent medication for axillary hyperhidrosis. Some good choices include: salvia tea, chamomile, peppermint, green tea, berries. Drink 2 glasses a day on an empty stomach. You can also smear the tea on your armpit area, thus dry the pores.

Relaxation techniques may very well help relax the nervous system. When the nervous system is calm, sweat glands will not be highly stimulated. It’s possible to relieve anxiety with yoga, meditation, self hypnosis, and physical activity. The more you workout, the less you sweat in the long run.Apparel: wear loose clothing made by natural fibers or fabrics developed specifically for moisture absorption. Consider avoiding wearing colors on which sweat marks could easily show. White and black clothing are usually a better solution than other colors, in terms of hiding sweat stains.