BOTOX® for Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating)
Hyperhidrosis is a condition of excessive sweating that usually involves the sweat glands of the hands, feet and underarms. There is considerable emotional and social shame attached to this condition. People who suffer from hyperhidrosis can routinely soak through clothing in a matter of minutes, no matter what they do. Simply shaking hands can become an intolerable ordeal. This condition can put a person in solitary confinement, avoiding all contact with friends and family, so that they do not inflict their condition on others. While there are many treatments available, they are mostly mildly effective and do not offer prolonged and complete relief from this debilitating disease. There has really been no relief for sufferers until now.
The eccrine sweat glands are concentrated in the palms, soles, and underarm skin. They number around 2-4 million per person and vary in number depending on the part of the body. They help us maintain our temperature and respond to many different environmental cues. Although the glands of people with hyperhidrosis appear normal, they seem to be hypersensitive to normal stimuli. When our bodies need to sweat, as in exercise, fear, or anger, special muscle cells around the gland contract in response to sympathetic nerve pulses. People with hyperhidrosis can sweat while completely relaxed, without any excessive stimuli.
Therapies for hyperhidrosis have included topical applications of special antiperspirant liquids (aluminum salts). Iontopheresis is a special topical therapy that uses an electric current to push these special salts into the skin. Topical therapy can help many people control the problem, and is usually the first and easiest method to try. Sometimes, though, it can be irritating and only slows the problem. Oral medicines that block the nerve pulses have also been used with varying success. All of these topical and oral medicines only work as long as they are used. Direct removal of the underarm skin and scraping the inside of the underarm skin have been tried, but with little success. Endoscopic sympathectomy (cutting the nerves that feed the hands) does have risks, but should be considered because it is a permanent solution.
The search for a therapy that combines effectiveness, safety, and long-lasting results has led to BOTOX®. BOTOX® (Botulinum A neurotoxin) is an injected medicine that blocks muscles from reacting to nerve pulses. It is better known for its smoothing effect on facial frown lines, crow's feet, and lines of the neck. Injecting very small amounts in the sweating areas has produced absolute relief from the sweating, no matter what the stimulus may be. People who undergo the treatment can see relief in as little as 48 hours; this relief can last anywhere from 4 to 7 months. The sweating simply stops, because the tiny sweat muscles cannot respond to command. When sweating begins to return, another treatment is done.
The procedure is simple. A special anesthetic cream is applied to the site for an hour before treatment, to minimize any discomfort. The medicine is injected very shallowly into the skin at multiple spots using a tiny skin needle. There are virtually no side effects. It is most effective in the underarms, followed by the hands. Temporary mild weakness in the muscles of the hand can sometimes occur after injection. This is rare and temporary and goes away in a week or two, and should not interfere in daily activities.
If you fear shaking hands with someone, if you dread taking off your clothes in the presence of other people because of increased sweating, there is an answer. BOTOX®.