It’s safe to say that at some point in our lives, we all have fallen victim to unfavorable sweating and pit stains. This can happen in a variety of ways: being overdressed in the summertime, feeling hot under-the-collar during an important business meeting, or doing a mandatory pit check before your date arrives for dinner. In those cases, it’s easy to brush off embarrassing moments of perspiration and blame it on nerves, jitters, or wearing a heavy fabric. But for many, excessive sweating is a condition that can be incredibly isolating and prevents people from leading a fulfilling life — physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
More than 365 million people suffer from excessive, uncontrollable sweating, which is formally known as hyperhidrosis. This common condition occurs all over a person’s body, but primarily happens in an individual’s underarms, hands, and feet — no matter what climate or environment they reside in. While there are many forms of treatment for hyperhidrosis, there is no known cure, which often affects a person’s quality of life, causing heightened embarrassment and stress in social settings and, for some, increases the chances of skin infections.
Every November, The International Hyperhidrosis Society celebrates Hyperhidrosis Awareness Month to raise visibility for the condition and to combat the feelings of loneliness and depression for those that suffer from it. In a year that’s been anything but normal, I actively tell my patients with hyperhidrosis to not let it prevent them from living their lives to the fullest.
While the rest of 2020 seems entirely uncertain, there are a number of things people can do to keep their hyperhidrosis in check and create a space for positive self-care.
Maintain a routine
Under quarantine, our daily routines have changed drastically. This time at home has caused us to switch up everything from our sleeping habits to the times we log on and off work and when our kids report to their virtual classrooms. With all of these changes, it’s easy to lose track of a routine. Plus, the feeling of fatigue begins to show up everywhere, including in our skin.
With the upcoming winter season, the hot, humid days of summer and fall are fading away, which will require us to change our wardrobes and our thermostats. Even though the weather won’t be warm and sticky, you’ll still need protective gear to keep you cool and controlled all year long. What better time to reevaluate your self-care routine! I recommend using this transitional time to set up a better sleeping and eating schedule as well as prioritizing your self-care routine, which should include finding an antiperspirant that works for you.
Find the right antiperspirant that works for you.
Individuals with excessive sweating often reach for the wrong product. Oftentimes people will shop for deodorant and think that it will solve their sweating issues. Deodorants won’t address sweating; they reduce odor-causing bacteria and mask body odors. For controlling your sweat and wetness levels, you’ll need an antiperspirant. Antiperspirants work by temporarily plugging pores to prevent sweat from escaping to the surface of the skin. Many antiperspirants double-up as deodorants and have the fighting power to decrease body odor.
For those who suffer from hyperhidrosis, it’s especially important to consider a stronger over-the-counter antiperspirant such as Certain Dri Prescription Strength Clinical, which contains 12% aluminum chloride — the same active ingredient found in prescription-strength antiperspirants. I recommend that patients try an OTC clinical strength antiperspirant as their first line of defense to manage their hyperhidrosis before more invasive treatments like botox or surgery.
Apply antiperspirant at night
While applying antiperspirant in the morning after you shower may seem like a natural part of your morning routine, you’re actually doing your sweat glands a disservice. Antiperspirants are most effective when used before bed. At night time, when there is less sweat clogging up the glands, more of the antiperspirant can get absorbed, allowing it to be most effective and less irritating.
When completely dry, sweat ducts have an easier time grabbing onto the aluminum salts from your antiperspirant, allowing the ingredient to effectively block the release of sweat. If you apply antiperspirant after showering, wet skin application will lessen the impact of your antiperspirant’s active ingredients due to excess moisture, causing skin irritation and minimal sweat control. In order for antiperspirants to work their magic, your underarms must be totally dry.
While the nighttime application may come as a surprise to some, there’s actually a lot of misinformation when it comes to how and when consumers should use their antiperspirant. A new Certain Dri survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted online by The Harris Poll, revealed that around 2 in 5 (41%) of Americans aged 18-34 years olds in the U.S. don’t know that antiperspirant works more effectively when applied at night. Even more startling, over two-thirds of Americans (68%) think they don’t need to read the instructions on their antiperspirant before applying. Perhaps a better understanding of following your antiperspirant’s directions could minimize continued sweating.
Be kind to yourself
As the weather gets colder and nights become longer, I ask that my patients be gentle with themselves. While 2020 continues to rear its head of continued unpredictability, I want to offer a reminder to be kind to yourself. The onset of colder weather can indicate a feeling of increased isolation, as we spend more time inside and are faced with the effects of seasonal depression. It’s especially important to treat your body with kindness and patience.
While there is no known cure for hyperhidrosis, instituting a consistent self-care routine with an effective antiperspirant keeps the symptoms of excessive sweating at bay.