If you suffer from excessive sweating, you should know that you’re not alone. Published research has proven that 3% of the population struggles with this devastating medical condition. And while hyperhidrosis may not be a life threatening illness, it's certainly life-altering, with overwhelming effects on social, professional, and home life.
This section is dedicated to what real people have told us about living with hyperhidrosis. These are stories of hardship but also of triumph and hope. We hope you find comfort and support from these stories and that you'll consider sharing your hyperhidrosis story with us, too.
We also want you to know that when we have a story or a quote--it's real. We don't make them up. This site is informed by, and serves, the hyperhidrosis community. So have your say and tell us your story. We will always keep your identity confidential. We promise.
My armpits used to sweat a lot. I could never wear cute tank tops or fun colors. I always wore bulky black clothes and jackets. My hands and feet sweated, too - I'm talking dripping sweat.
By the time I was 13, I gave up drawing because I was always smearing the paper. At 15, I cried because I couldn't go to a sleepover party because then people would find out about my problem. I stopped hanging out with my friends.
I'd just go to school, come home, do my homework, and go to bed. I didn't want to stay cooped up, but I didn't see any other way. I finally got my mom to listen to me and take me to a dermatologist. Now I get two different kinds of treatment for my sweating and it's like a miracle. I get Botox for my underarms and I do iontophoresis for my hands and feet. I hope I can help other kids like me, who are going through the same thing. I hope that people will be more aware of hyperhidrosis and know that they are not the only person who has it, that it's o.k., and that you can get treated. I went through so much, but I'm a stronger person because of it. If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, have confidence, feel good about yourself, and keep your head up high. I feel like I can do almost anything now.
"In an instant," says Paul M., "I can go from having a good level of self-esteem to feeling extremely self-conscious, insecure, anxious, and depressed. Excessive sweating is something you never truly get used to. It's a constant frustration that can't be forgotten. I've never really talked to anyone besides my doctor about it, not even my family. Unless someone has dealt with it themselves, they can't really understand and that makes talking about it difficult."
At first, Paul wasn’t sure that he wanted to share his story, not even with fellow hyperhidrosis sufferers through the International Hyperhidrosis Society. "Even though I deal with excessive sweating on a daily basis," he says, "there are times when I feel words don't provide an adequate description for how the problem makes me feel. But if people like me don't provide feedback, the medical community will never properly understand the condition."
Paul experiences excessive sweating of the palms, underarms, feet, lower back, and face but it’s the sweaty palms and underarms that bother him the most. "Ever since junior high, hyperhidrosis has greatly impacted my social interactions," he says. "It can be extremely humiliating to see people’s reactions or listen to their comments after they shake my hand. It’s been a big obstacle, particularly when I was dating in high school and college. A certain amount of nervousness and perspiration is a part of dating but try holding someone’s hand when yours is drenched - it’s beyond embarrassing! I would have been more confident and dated more if I didn’t sweat excessively. Fortunately, I’ve found someone who’s never made an issue of it." In fact, Paul is married with a baby on the way. But besides being a husband and a soon-to-be father, Paul is also a musician. "Excessive sweating is annoying when I’m playing the guitar and people often want to shake hands when the band finishes playing. It can be awkward extending my clammy hand to them."
To help control his hyperhidrosis, Paul uses topical products including Maxim and Certain Dri, both non-prescription antiperspirants. "They’ve made a world of difference as far as my underarms are concerned," he says. "I used to be able to sweat through two shirts and a suit coat, but now, instead of sweat pooling up and dripping under my arms, I may just get some moisture every once in a while." Still, says Paul, his problem hasn’t disappeared and the antiperspirants don’t really work on his hands. "After viewing the Physician Finder on the International Hyperhidrosis Society’s Web site," he says, "I’m seriously considering contacting the doctors listed in my area. I would feel much more comfortable talking to someone with experience dealing with hyperhidrosis. Talking to someone who doesn’t understand it, even a doctor, is an uphill battle."
"I found the International Hyperhidrosis Society mentioned on an online message board," says Paul, "and I really hope the Society continues to grow as a resource for people to find comfort and empowerment. And to anyone out there who suffers from excessive sweating, I say - gather as much information as you can and find the treatment that works best for you. Hyperhidrosis can be a depressing condition, but the resources that are available today can make it a little more bearable. I wish everyone the best of luck in their efforts to deal with their individual situations."
Amanda is a 28-year-old, single, veterinarian student in Columbus, Ohio, who first found the International Hyperhidrosis Society by doing an Internet search. Amanda suffers from excessive sweating of the hands, feet, and underarms. Her palmar hyperhidrosis, in particular, makes her life difficult because, as a veterinarian, Amanda uses her hands a lot.
"It’s embarrassing to have sweaty hands and it interferes with my job," she says.
When Amanda was about 11 years old, she started to sweat, a lot. "As a child, it didn’t really affect me much," says Amanda, "but when I was in high school I became self-conscious about it and tried to avoid social situations like school dances where people might notice."
"The worst part," she adds, "is not having control over it, especially in important situations such as in interviews or social situations and worrying what other people think. Hyperhidrosis makes me reluctant to do things that would expose my condition - things like dancing, holding hands, and shaking hands. I wish I could do these things without worrying about sweating. If it weren’t for my excessive sweating, I’d probably be more outgoing in my personal relationships. Instead, I tend to be shy because I don’t know what other people are going to think. But, I haven’t let hyperhidrosis stop me from pursuing my dreams - I'm becoming a veterinarian just like I wanted."
Fortunately, Amanda’s dermatologist diagnosed her problem early, while she was still a teenager. Unlike many other hyperhidrosis sufferers, Amanda didn’t have to see a series of physicians and experience numerous misdiagnoses before finding help. Amanda’s dermatologist recommended a prescription aluminum chloride solution and an over-the-counter deodorant/antiperspirant to help control the sweating on her hands, feet, and underarms. Over the years, Amanda has adjusted her treatment so that she uses the prescription solution mainly on her hands and in her underarms. "It works really well for my underarms," she says, "but it’s not as effective for my hands and feet." Someday, Amanda hopes to visit another physician with even more experience with hyperhidrosis and to perhaps try other treatments.
Amanda’s brother and father also suffer from hyperhidrosis but they don’t really talk about it much. "My brother and I mentioned hyperhidrosis to our mom once, but I don’t think she really took us seriously or realized how much it bothers us," says Amanda.
Don’t let excessive sweating get in the way of your dreams either. Remember, help is available. Talk to your doctor about your hyperhidrosis treatment options.
On Thursday, July 8, 2004, ABC television channels across the US broadcast the popular morning news and talk show Good Morning America to millions of viewers. That, in itself, isn’t news - it happens every weekday. But for Wendy from Norfolk, Virginia, the July 8th episode of Good Morning America was very special.
Wendy has been suffering from the devastating effects of excessive sweating of the hands, feet, and underarms since elementary school. And while she’s continued to pursue a career as a teacher, constant wetness has presented challenges and frustrations.
Good Morning America followed Wendy’s daily struggle with excessive sweating and her quest to achieve a dry handshake before an important job interview for an assistant principal position. Viewers watched as Wendy received injections of onabotulinumtoxinA (BOTOX) as well as iontophoresis treatments from an International Hyperhidrosis Society founding Board member, David Pariser, MD. Wendy also appeared live in the Good Morning America studio to talk about her experiences.
"I never thought that my hyperhidrosis would get me on national TV," Wendy told the International Hyperhidrosis Society. "The most I hoped for was a doctor who would say, "Hey there's actually a treatment for you and you can live a semi-normal life".
Today, Wendy’s underarms are completely dry thanks to her BOTOX injections and she and Dr. Pariser are using iontophoresis and BOTOX to improve the symptoms of excessive sweating on her hands and feet. Already, one of her hands is, as Wendy says, "dewy" as opposed to "dripping".
"If I could send a message to people, and if I could do one thing by doing this segment," Wendy said of her Good Morning America appearance, "it would be to inform the average person, like myself, that they might have the condition and not know what it is, and not to give up, to be persistent, and to find a doctor who’s going to believe in them and to help them. And if I could give a word to doctors, it would be to listen to the patients in front of them... there are people out there who need treatment to lead a semi-normal life."
Wendy's and Dr. Pariser’s appearance on Good Morning America has helped to increase awareness among patients, physicians, and the general public that hyperhidrosis is a serious medical condition that can significantly impact daily life. Happily, the show also left viewers with a hopeful message: Treatments such as Botox injections and iontophoresis offer a promising future for people with hyperhidrosis.
I've had a major sweat problem since I was 14. It was worst on hot days but even when it was freezing out I'd sweat so much that I'd sometimes have to change my t-shirt and sweatshirt before I left for school. It got really tiring trying to always figure out ways to constantly keep my arms at my sides. I couldn't go to my school's football or basketball games because I knew I'd be too embarrassed by my sweating and that the heat of the crowded gym would make me sweat even more.
My pencil used to slip out of my hands during class and my paper would stick to the side of my arm. I'd sit in the back, slump down and just try to concentrate on my breathing and cool down. I couldn't pay attention to what the teacher was saying - I was too busy wiping sweat off my face. Sometimes, if I thought I'd sweat too bad, I'd ditch class.
When kids found out, they tried to make me do high-fives so they could see how sweaty I was and make fun of me. I dreaded school. It was hard to talk about my problem - with my parents and with the doctors - but now that I get treated for my hyperhidrosis I can't believe I was ever scared. Life is good again.
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