Hyperhidrosis is no laughing matter if you're suffering from it. From the time I was born until I was 25 I battled with it. Even though friends and family never understood why excessive sweating was such a big deal to me, I don't have to tell any of you going through it why it is. And by excessive sweating, I mean dripping on the floor type of sweat. It was disgusting and it ruined my life for many years. It got to the point I contemplated hurting myself over it.
I don't remember when I first started dealing with over sweating, but my mom told me she remembers noticing that I had unusually sweaty hands as a toddler. I distinctly remember my hyperhidrosis going from a nuisance in elementary school to a nightmare in high-school. High-school was when I had my first boyfriend and I was always afraid to touch him because I feared he would reject me. It was plain old embarassing! My hands, feet and armpits would just pour sweat out constantly. My clothes were always soaked and some of my classmates used to joke that I must go running between each class. I tried to avoid social interactions because of my sweat. It was BAD and I was miserable. I could not even wear open toe sandals because my feet would slip out of them. Daily life was a struggle for me and it was horrible!
The first place I turned for hyperhidrosis treatment options was Google. I searched every day when I got home from school for a solution to my problem. I started with simple home treatments and eventually worked my way up to seeing a medical professional for more serious procedures to deal with my issue.
The very first treatment I tried was aluminum chloride salts. I had read that the salts caused the sweat glands to swell and that was supposed to prevent water from being released onto your skin. Well it didn't work for me! I saw no difference whatsoever. I actually think it made things worse! After I started applying the salts to my skin, my hands started feeling cold. It was like my nerve endings were malfunctioning. Long story short, I stopped using the salt.
The next treatment I tried was prescribed by a doctor. He gave me oxybutynin, which he called an anticholinergic medication. This meant that it was supposed to block the nerve signal to my sweat glands. Yeah...it didn't. All I got from this medication was the well documented side effect of dry mouth.
I was still drenched and started getting scared that there would be no solution to my problem. It was at this moment that I realized I had a real medical condition and that maybe I needed to consider more drastic measures. Surgery was something I did not want, but if it was going to help me, I was willing to have it done. I started watching videos on Youtube of a surgery called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. This surgery involves making an incision under your armpit, and then a probe is navigated to the nerves near your spinal column. The nerves are then cut and this is supposed to stop the impulse sent from your brain to the sweat pores. I was not okay with having the nerves near my spine cut. That really scared me.
I don't have fond memories of my Botox injection treatment sessions, so I will kind of glaze over them. I will say that I had them done, they were very expensive ($1300 for my armpits), hurt because of the number of injections in each arm and it only reduced the sweating I had in my armpits for 6-7 months and then I would have had to return for more. Instead, I turned to MiraDry as a more permanent solution.
Next on my never-ending list of treatments to stop my hyperhidrosis was MiraDry. I had looked into this treatment previously, but it was expensive ($3100). However, considering how many treatments I had tried before getting to this stage, I felt it was worth it at this point. I went to the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute for 2 MiraDry treatments. I knew this would only potentially fix one of the three areas I sweat from, but I wanted to give it a try. Any improvement I could potentially get was worth it to me.
The MiraDry procedure took about 1-1.5 hours to complete. The steps were as follows:
1) A stencil was applied to my armpit to outline where my sweat glands were.
2) My arm was numbed with local anesthetics injected by a very small needle. Each armpit required about 5 injections. I did feel some pain while I was being injected. It was the same type of pain you feel when you get a flu shot - a bunch of small pinches.
3) A sticker was applied to my armpit. The handheld attachment of the MiraDry machine attaches to this sticker.
4) The MiraDry machine was turned on and my skin was sucked into the device and then the microwave energy began, which is supposed to destroy your sweat glands. The machine was left on my armpit for 10-15 minutes and then my other arm was treated.
Upon finishing my MiraDry treatment, my pits were definitely swollen. I think the majority of the swelling was caused by the anesthetic injections (they inject a lot of fluid) and the MiraDry machine's suction.
I was very sore for 2-3 days after my MiraDry procedure. I used frozen vegetable packages as ice packs for 3 days and took ibuprofen for 2 days. The swelling persisted for about 4-5 days and during that time I refused to wear tank tops to hide my swelling.
My underarm sweating was reduced approximately 50% after my first treatment and about 80% after my second treatment. MiraDry was worth the cost and I would recommend the procedure to others. Just remember, it only work for underarm sweating and nothing else.
The last stop on my treatment journey with hyperhidrosis was iontophoresis. I had heard of the treatment before, but immediately dismissed it as a gimmick. I revisited my decision not to purchase the machine after reading many reviews online and watching a number of videos on Youtube from fellow hyperhidrosis sufferers, all of whom had claimed the machine worked. I had spent so much on hyperhidrosis treatments over the past 10 years, that I figured spending another $400 for even a chance of improving my situation was worth it.
I used the Iontoderma 1000 for 40 minutes at a time (10 minutes on each foot and hand) and sometimes twice a day on my hands and feet. It took a good two weeks before I noticed a difference in the amount of sweat I had on my hands and feet, but it has significantly dried up my extremities. To say I'm shocked it has worked is an understatement. I really expected to throw $400 down the drain by buying it. I was wrong. The device is a big time suck and it does feel very strange when you use it (tingling up arms), but it isn't painful and it works. Tingling and not leaving a pool of sweat on the floor from my hands or having stinky feet is worth $400 and 40+ minutes a day.
That's all I have folks. This review took me almost a week to write and I really hope it helps those of you out there who are suffering from hyperhidrosis. I wanted to make it as comprehensive as possible, because I've had trouble finding information about all the available hyperhidrosis treatments in one spot. Obviously the success rates I had with these treatments may vary for you depending on where you sweat. For example, I never suffered from facial sweating, so many of the treatments I've spoken about will not help you (sorry).
I know some of you reading this may experience excessive sweating even worse than I did, but please know there's always something that can be done. I too have struggled with the depression that comes along with hyperhidrosis and I've been able to overcome it. You can too. Never give up and please don't think about hurting yourself. I have gone through many rough patches in my journey with hyperhidrosis and after years, I now have it under control. Please send me a message if have any additional questions about my treatments.