If you're one of the people who suffer from underarm sweating so excessive that it interferes with everyday activities and makes you feel uncomfortable interacting with others, talk to your doctor or health care provider about possible medical solutions. While these treatment options may seem extreme, the resulting improvements in self-esteem and comfort can be well worth the trouble.
- Iontophoresis is a non-invasive treatment that uses water to deliver a mild electrical shock. A dermatologist uses a small, hand-held device to send a low-level current to the armpits while the body is immersed in water. These treatments help to temporarily shut off sweat glands, last about 15 to 30 minutes and are performed once a day over a short period of time.
- Injections of botulinum toxin -- commonly referred to by one of its trade names, Botox -- are used in several medical and cosmetic procedures. Botulinum toxin is a protein produced by the bacteria that causes botulism. It can be injected under the arms to block the nerves that stimulate sweating. The treatment is effective for five to six months.
- Oral anticholinergic medications like Robinul work by blocking the actions of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps stimulate sweat glands. It usually begins to improve symptoms in a couple of weeks. These medications act on other body functions as well, and may cause side effect such as dry mouth, constipation or blurry vision.
- Antidepressants or tranquilizers can be an effective, albeit unusual, solution. If emotional triggers cause excessive sweating, antidepressants or tranquilizers may be prescribed to help control stress-related symptoms. As a result of this treatment, excessive sweating related to stress may subside.
- Surgery is a last-ditch treatment option for excessive sweating. If the sweating is limited to your armpits, removing the sweat glands in a procedure known as surgical tumescent liposuction may help. Another procedure, endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, involves clipping the nerves that carry messages from the sympathetic nerves to the sweat glands. However, both of these procedures carry the risk of compensatory sweating, or an increase of sweating on other parts of the body [source: International Hyperhidrosis Society].
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Humans have tried for centuries to mask the scent emanating from their bodies, so what do deodorants do differently?