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Schmidt's guide to hyperhidrosis article

No Sweat: Your Guide to Hyperhidrosis

Summer’s increased humidity can cause even the most cool, calm and collected among us to perspire more excessively than usual. But when does sweating cross the line from manageable to miserable? And what can you do about it?

The medical term for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis, and while it’s not very common, it can be debilitating. If you have an inkling that you may be suffering from hyperhidrosis, start by looking at the circumstances under which it happens. ​“Is it nervousness or anxiety? Are you soaking your clothing when you’re not doing something extremely strenuous?” says Dr. Alan Dattner, MD, a New York-based holistic dermatologist. ​“Is it just moisture or also odor?”

As sweating is a function of the skin, a dermatologist should be your first port of call. For anxiety-based conditions, Dr. Dattner often prescribes breathing exercises and tools such as a technical iontophoresis device, which uses a mild electric current under the arm. If something physiological is at play, Dattner advises to get a full medical workup and consider an internist. ​“Fever, alcoholism, diabetes, heart failure, hypothyroidism, pregnancy, Parkinson’s, congenital conditions…these can all be underlying causes.” It’s also important to check your medications— everything from certain herbs, antidepressants, glaucoma medications, psychedelics, and even zinc supplements and other trace minerals have been indicated.

Can deodorant be of help? ​“I’m not big on conventional deodorants,” Dattner says. ​“Most have aluminum, which blocks the sweat ducts and has been linked to liver toxicity.” Many natural deodorants rely on zinc oxide, which is also a no-go in the dermatologist’s books. ​“Zirconia can cause granuloma,” he cautions.

The best solution when it comes to deodorant is natural formulas that contain non-toxic ingredients to help neutralize odor and keep you fresh such as arrowroot, baking soda, activated charcoal, and magnesium as well as essential oils such as bergamot, juniper, lavender and ylang ylang, for alluring scents.

There are beneficial herbs that can be taken internally, too. ​“Astragalus is a great immune stimulant; sage in tea or used topically; burdock, schizandra, and white peony,” says Dattner. And you can always count on the simple hack of changing T‑shirts and using a washcloth under your arms regularly, which is far more favorable than blocking your sweat ducts with chemicals.


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