As Summer Heats Up, Survey Reveals Need for Effective Sweat Treatments

As the thermometer rises, so does the humidity. For many, the humidity can be annoying, but for the nearly 8 million Americans who suffer from a treatable condition called hyperhidrosis [1], or excessive sweating, the humidity can be unbearable. Hyperhidrosis creates sweaty underarms, sweaty palms, sweaty feet, dripping sweat from the face, among other areas of excessive sweating, and though not caused by heat, is aggravated by heat or anxiety. The International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to those who have the condition, commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a survey among nearly 3,000 U.S. adults to find out how sweat affects the general adult population, not just those who suffer from hyperhidrosis. The survey found that one third of U.S adults (33%) think that they have too much underarm sweat, yet only three percent [1] of the U.S. population are known to suffer from hyperhidrosis – even less from excessive underarm sweating specifically.

The findings also revealed that more than half of U.S. adults (60%) would be embarrassed or very embarrassed by visible underarm sweat stains. Additionally, more adults would be embarrassed by visible underarm sweat stains than having bad acne (58%) or being overweight (47%). Furthermore, although more men (39%) feel they have too much underarm sweat compared to women (28%), more women would be embarrassed by underarm sweat than men (68% vs. 51% respectively). Young females are particularly affected by underarm sweat. The survey found that more than three in four (77%) young females (ages 18 to 34) would be embarrassed by underarm sweat and about half (49%) feel that they have too much underarm sweat.

Interestingly, the survey found that, of those who think they have too much underarm sweat, only 5% have consulted a healthcare professional; many more altered their lifestyle to cope, for example, by avoiding certain clothing or activities. Executive director of the IHHS, Lisa J. Pieretti, says, "Many people do not realize that excessive underarm sweat is a treatable medical condition, therefore going undiagnosed and untreated. People do not have to alter their lifestyle to accommodate or suffer in silence; many physicians specialize in the treatment of excessive underarm sweating, offering a range of treatments from prescription strength topical antiperspirants to BOTOX® (Botulinum Toxin Type A) injections."

Most U.S. adults who think they have too much underarm sweat (70%) go to various lengths to hide or prevent their underarm sweat – mostly altering activities (47%) and clothing choices (49%). For example, the survey found that about a third of those who think they have too much underarm sweat avoid raising their arms (35%) and others avoid hugging or putting their arms around people (18%) and participating in sports and athletic activities that may induce sweating (17%). Some even try and avoid giving presentations at work or school (5%) for fear of revealing underarm sweat stains. Additionally, they make clothing choices based on too much underarm sweat -- avoiding certain fabrics (25%), avoiding some colors (21%) and frequently choosing others (e.g., black) (19%), carrying additional clothing (12%) and changing clothes several times daily (11%).

To help both excessive sweaters and normal sweaters stay dry in the hot, humid weather, the IHHS has compiled the following summer survival tips.

• Drink early, drink often, and drink again – thirst is simply a sign your fluid levels are already low. Sweat plays a critical role in keeping your body cool in hot temperatures. The key to keeping this internal air conditioning system working properly is drinking enough fluids. If your urine is relatively clear you know you are drinking enough.

• Wear loose, lightweight natural fabrics, and light-colored clothing. Loose clothing enables perspiration to evaporate and natural, breathable fabrics "wick" moisture away from your skin. Some of today's hi-tech textiles even include copper and silver to fight odor-causing bacteria and keep you cooler.

• Protect your skin. Sweating can be a consequence of sun-damaged or burned skin, because it is not as effective at dissipating body heat. Stay out of direct sunlight whenever possible, wear sunscreen, and consider wearing a wide-brimmed or long billed hat such as the ones found at www.Coolibar.com. For extreme sweaters, waterproof sunscreen gel or "sweat proof" and "sports" formulations are the best bets.

• Choose lightweight, breathable or ventilated shoes – when it's hot outside, temperature in shoes can reach 120F. The IHHS recommends wearing open sandals or using sweat absorbing inserts such as Summer Soles  – a coupon code is available on www.SweatHelp.org! Absorbent foot powders and antiperspirants can also be used on feet to minimize sweating and moisture buildup. Ask your doctor or podiatrist for a recommendation.

• Change your antiperspirant routine and bust "pit stains." Choose a soft-solid formula and apply antiperspirant to underarms once in the morning and again prior to bedtime. Application twice daily—and especially before bedtime—has been shown to be more effective. Gently massaging the antiperspirant into the skin may be useful. Consider using a stronger over-the-counter antiperspirant such as CertainDri. To avoid irritation, only apply antiperspirant to completely dry skin. If you suffer from an annoyingly sweaty face, consider applying an antiperspirant along your hairline. Follow the application tips mentioned above but test the product on a tiny area of skin first to make sure that it won't cause irritation.

• Talk to a doctor about the effective treatments for excessive sweating including: over-the-counter or prescription antiperspirants, iontophoresis, BOTOX®, and miraDry. Visit www.SweatHelp.org to use the International Hyperhidrosis Society's Physician Finder to locate an experienced health care provider.

About the Survey:

This International Hyperhidrosis Society study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive and included 2,897 adults ages 18+, of whom, 1,033 feel they have too much underarm sweat. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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[1] Strutton, et. al., "US Prevalence of Hyperhidrosis and Impact on Individuals with Axillary Hyperhidrosis: Results from a National Survey." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, August 2004, Volume 51, Number 2.