This page focuses on what real people have told us about life with hyperhidrosis. Included here are stories of hardship but also of triumph and hope. In addition to written perspectives on excessive sweating, we also have a podcast episode with hyperhidrosis community members reading poetry about their experiences. You can listen to that here. Other podcast episodes share individual stories, as well. Look for the episodes labelled MyHhStory.
Whether through reading below or listening, we hope you find comfort and support today and that you'll share your hyperhidrosis journey with us, too. Consider sponsoring this page or making a donation to help us keep the conversation going. Even a small gift can make a huge difference in our reach.
Please know that when we post a story or a quote--it's real. We don't make these things up. This site is informed by, and serves, the hyperhidrosis community. So have your say. We will always keep your identity confidential. Use our Contact Us form and get in touch. (Please see important submission information at bottom of page.)
Caryn Toriaga is a successful professional flutist in New York City. She’s also a lifetime hyperhidrosis sufferer.
Uncensored and unscripted, we've included Caryn's hyperhidrosis story here. Watch and discover struggle, talent, perseverance, and hope. Then, please share the video with friends, family and anyone who doesn't yet understand the real impact of excessive sweating on lives and aspirations.
Ruining My Life
I suffer from palmar hyperhidrosis. My hands drip sweat off of them. They leave huge wet marks on papers. They ruin my life. Living with this is absolutely horrible. I have been depressed over this. I'm so lonely. I'm so afraid to go on dates, shake people's hands, and basically touch anyone. Everyone is in relationships but I don’t think I can ever have one. I feel like I can never get married or have kids. This is ruining my life and I just need help.
ETS Surgery Pain
I had endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS surgery) performed in 2007 for palmar hyperhidrosis. I have compensatory and gustatory sweating, which I expected, but about a year ago, I developed severe pain in my abdomen under the ribs along the same level as where the operation was performed. I've gone through intensive medical studies and everything has checked out as normal. I believe the surgery caused it. Nothing else explains the pain.
Tired of It
I have primary focal hyperhidrosis. I have the worst case of it and, although I try my best to live my life as normal as possible, every time I have a job interview, or the summer comes, I am devastated. I always wear gloves as I feel safer that way and, of course, no sandals. I am just tired of it.
I'm a teenage girl. I can't wear colored clothes without getting huge pit stains, so I have to have dark or black shirts. I have tried antiperspirants with maximum protection and I still get sweaty. I still get those stains. I'm even afraid to raise my hand in class. My sweat-problem is an ongoing torture.
I Can’t Go Out
My sweating is so severe I can't go out. I had a sympathectomy operation (ETS) in 2009 but it did not work and my condition was made worse. I sweat so much that I sometimes faint because I can’t rehydrate my body fast enough to keep up with the sweating! My skin is also very dry from all this sweating – so much so that it is breaking down and I have cellulitis. It’s killing me. I am so unhappy.
I had seriously sweaty armpits. I could never wear cute tank tops or fun colors. I always wore bulky black clothes and jackets. I had super clammy hands and totally sweaty feet, 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 talk 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 want to 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 OK, 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, uncontrollable underarm sweating, sweaty feet, sweating on lower back, and profuse facial sweating but like many others in the same situation, it’s the sweaty hands and sweaty armpits 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 CertainDri, a non-prescription antiperspirant. "It's 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 Clinician 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, sweaty feet, and underarm hyperhidrosis. 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 and to try other hyperhidrosis 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. At the International Hyperhidrosis Society, we hear this all too often. To combat this, we launched a program to educate school nurses. If you believe in this, please consider making a donation to help us keep it alive and growing.
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 had been suffering from the devastating effects of excessive sweating of the hands, soaking sweating feet, and uber sweaty 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 BOTOX injections for axillary hyperhidrosis as well as iontophoresis treatment for her palmar hyperhidrosis from an International Hyperhidrosis Society founding Board member, David Pariser, MD. Wendy also appeared live in the Good Morning America studio to talk candidly 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.
"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 and compassion."
Wendy's and Dr. Pariser’s appearance on Good Morning America has helped to increase awareness among patients, medical professionals, 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. And physicians like, Dr Pariser, are still out there and indeed are heroes. Donate now to the International Hyperhidrosis Society and help us continue to bring education and understanding to clinicians. Dr Pariser is ready to teach and train--we just need your support to get him out there!
I've had a major sweat problem since I was 14. It was worst on hot days but even when it was freezing 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 thanks to the International Hyperhidrosis Society I get treated for my hyperhidrosis. I can't believe I was ever scared. But I was and I think it was because I felt so alone. But now, life is good and I'm getting A's in class like I always should have. I hope to give back and help find a cure to hyperhidrosis so no kid has to suffer like I did.
What's your story? Share and inspire or just share and comfort someone out there who feels alone. Send your email to info@SweatHelp.org
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