Debunking Myths About Women and Sweating

Get the facts about hyperhidrosis

Millions of women suffer from extreme, uncomfortable sweating, but few people know that extreme sweating is a serious medical condition known as hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis—extreme sweating on the hands, feet, face, underarms or body—can be devastating. Many women try to hide their sweating problems and suffer in silence, but the impacts are often hard to cover up. Dramatic sweating can cause severe embarrassment, stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues. There are solutions to hyperhidrosis, but the first step is to bust some common myths and misconceptions.

Myth:
Sweaty women are nervous or have hygiene issues.

Truth:
Sweat is essential to human survival. It works to cool the body and protect it from overheating. Women (and men) with hyperhidrosis (which causes overactive sweat glands) sweat excessively regardless of mood, weather or activity level—often producing four or five times more sweat than is considered “normal.”

Myth:
Night sweats are a “female” problem and nothing to worry about.

Truth:
Night sweats can be serious and they aren’t just something that affect menopausal women. Night sweats can be significant and shouldn’t be disregarded—no matter your age or gender. Drenching night sweats, or any changes in your pattern of sweating should be evaluated by a physician. Medical conditions with sweating symptoms can include serious infections, cancer, low blood sugar, hormone disorders (not simply the hormonal changes of menopause) and neurologic conditions. Medications may also cause night sweats. It’s important to talk to your doctor about night sweating, especially if the night sweats are accompanied by a fever or other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss. Maybe menopause is the culprit, but certainly new night sweating should be discussed with your physician. One thing you don’t need to worry about—hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). The medical condition hyperhidrosis causes excessive sweating when awake, not asleep.

Myth:
Excessive sweating is only a sweat problem.

Truth:
Excessive sweating can contribute other health problems. Emotional problems such 
as depression, anxiety, embarrassment and isolation are common. Practical problems 
with gripping objects and using touch-screen technology are also frequent.

Myth:
Girls and young women will grow out of hyperhidrosis.

Truth:
Contrary to popular belief, research shows that hyperhidrosis does not go away or 
decrease with age. In fact, in one recent IHhS study, 88 per cent of respondents said their excessive sweating had gotten worse or stayed the same over time. This was consistent across all the different age groups, from youngsters to older adults.

Myth:
Antiperspirants are for women’s underarms only and, like caffeine, are best used in 
the morning.

Truth:
You can use antiperspirant nearly anywhere that sweating is a problem (hands, feet, 
face, back, chest, and even groin.) Be smart and talk to your dermatologist first before 
applying an antiperspirant to sensitive areas and test new products on small areas of 
skin first. Luckily, there are antiperspirant brands like Certain Dri—one of the most 
effective that can be purchased without a prescription—that are specifically developed to help those who suffer from excessive sweating. They also work well at night and typically last for 24 hours.

Myth:
Antiperspirants can cause breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Truth:
According to the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Institute, BreastCancer.org, and the Alzheimer’s Association, there are no strong scientific studies reporting a statistical association between antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk or Alzheimer’s risk. If you’re concerned about breast cancer or Alzheimer’s, you don’t need to ditch your antiperspirants—focus instead on having regular health screenings, avoiding alcohol, exercising regularly, eating a nutritious balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, staying mentally and socially involved, and protecting yourself from head injuries.

Myth:
Excessive sweating is less debilitating than other skin conditions women have to deal with.

Truth:
Various investigations show the impact of hyperhidrosis on quality of life is equal to 
or greater than that of in-patient psoriasis, severe acne, vitiligo and chronic itching. The extreme level of sweat production experienced with hyperhidrosis can disrupt all aspects of a woman’s life, from workplace performance, relationships, recreational activities, and self-image to overall emotional well-being. But it doesn’t have to be thisway. There are helpful resources available to help people with hyperhidrosis to not just “know sweat,” but to also achieve a more comfortable, fruitful and happier life.

There are many things that can be done to help sweating, such as topical treatment, oral pills and injection with Botox. You should discuss your problem with a health care professional.

Dr. Nowell Solish, M.D., FRCP (C), graduated as a dermatologist from the University of Toronto, and subsequently specialized in surgical dermatology at U of T and UBC, focusing on cosmetic and skin cancer dermatologic surgery. He is a recognized specialist in the field of cosmetic dermatology and dermatologic surgery. Dr. Solish is an Assistant Professor at U of T, and co-director of the Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer clinic at Women’s College. He is the past president of The Canadian Society of Dermatologic surgeryand a founding board member of the International Hyperhidrosis Society.

Comments

Print Friendly, PDF & Email