Axillary hyperhidrosis is the medical term for sweaty armpits, where excessive sweating is localised to the armpits. If sweating in this area has not been responsive to the use of various antiperspirants, provided your condition meets with strict Medicare requirements – you could be eligible to have this problem treated with injections of muscle relaxants. The reduction in sweating varies with the individual and the duration of action can be between 4 to 6 months.
How we treat axillary hyperhidrosis
Diluted muscle relaxant (the medication binds to the nerve receptors on your sweat glands to stop their activation, over time new nerve receptors grow and so the sweating response returns) is delivered by a number of fine needle injections into your armpit.
Medicare does not provide subsidy for excessive sweating in other areas of the body including hands and feet. If your excessive sweating is of recent onset or is generalised you should see your local doctor to have appropriate investigations to rule out underlying causes of excessive sweating.
If you are needle phobic there are a number of oral medications that may be of benefit in reduction of sweating.
Sweaty palms and feet can be managed with oral medication or iontophoresis. If this is an area of concern please discuss the available options with one of our dermatologists.
Iontophoresis is a physical treatment for managing excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis.
It is mainly used for treating excessive sweating of localised areas such as the palms or feet and less often the armpits.
At ESD we use the Hidrex iontophoresis device. The process involves passing an electric current through skin that is soaked in either tap water, normal saline or a solution containing an anticholinergic medication. The electric current creates ionised particles which can cross into the skin to reduce sweating. The treatment does not damage the sweat glands, the mechanism of action may include reduction in autonomic nervous stimulation of the sweat glands and physical blockage of the sweat ducts.
Noticeable improvement can be seen within 2 weeks of treatment.
There are 2 treatment phases:
Phase 1. Conducted at ESD, 3 treatments a week – each lasting ~ 15 minutes. If there is going to be a response to treatment this should be apparent by 4 weeks.
Phase 2. Maintenance phase. This is necessary to prevent relapse as iontophoresis is not a permanent solution. 1 to 2 treatments a week, long term is advised. The maintenance can be performed at ESD, but we routinely recommend purchase of your own machine.
Iontophoresis is a safe procedure, your treating nurse will advise you where to place your hands/ feet during the treatment. Most people experience a feeling of pins and needles. Reported side effects include redness of the treated skin, development of dermatitis in the form of small blisters or dry, cracked skin. These usually respond to the use of moisturisers and topical steroids.
Dermatologists providing consultative and procedural services at Eastern Suburbs Dermatology are all Fellows of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.
Practising individual dermatologists at Eastern Suburbs Dermatology have sub-specialisation interests in paediatric dermatology, surgical dermatology, and women’s and cosmetic dermatology.