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Iontophoresis And 5 Other Sweat-Stopping Tips
Sweating happens, especially now, when we're dealing with some serious summer heat. But sometimes sweating can get so bad it interferes with your day, and that's not cool. We recently had a reader write in with a question about dealing with serious sweat.
I feel like I sweat too much, or my deodorant doesn't work all day long—is there a natural way to prevent sweating? I have read you can use Botox, but what other alternatives are there? The clinical level deodorants I have tried don't seem to work well. We connected with Charlotte's Book Premiere Provider Dr. Cybele Fishman, a great resource for both the holistic and traditional perspectives on dermatology. Below, she gives six top tips to dry you out.
Dr. Cybele Fishman Answer:
Sweating is controlled by our sympathetic nervous system, and how trigger-happy it is will determine how much you sweat, along with how many sweat glands you have (there are ethnic variations in this, with lucky Asians tending to have the fewest sweat glands). What triggers sweating is not just heat, but anything that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, including fear, anxiety, and excitement. Botox injections are great for sweating and I do them in my office, but you can't Botox your whole body, and some people are needle-phobic. So what else is there?
1. Decrease the hyperactivity of your nervous system
Try things like meditation and deep yogic breathing—they stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts the sympathetic. In other words, keep calm and carry on rather than freak out and panic.
2. Try Certain Dri over the counter, or ask your dermatologist for a prescription for DrySol
These are antiperspirants you use a couple of times a week at night, plus regular deodorant/antiperspirant in the morning. Some people don't want to use aluminum. Personally, based on what I have read, I don't think there is an increased risk of cancer using aluminum salts, but I know many people are not comfortable with this.
This is a prescription-only medicine called an anticholinergic, which blocks acetylcholine, which is the main neurotransmitter that controls sweat. The pro is that many patients say they sweat all over their body, and their face, not just in the armpits or hands or feet. This will reduce sweating everywhere. The con is that the side effects can include dry mouth, dry eyes, dizziness, and urinary retention in men with prostate problems. I have several patients on this and it has been a game-changer. I just try to keep the dose low so sweating is reduced without the side effects.
I wish more patients knew about this, because it can be done at home, and the machines are about $200. Iontophoresis uses tap water to pass a mild electrical current into the sweat glands. How it works is not totally understood, but it is thought to block the eccrine sweat glands. Hidrex and Drionic are two brands. It is most useful for the hands and feet, although the armpits can be treated as well. For the first few weeks, you treat several times a week, but most patients are able to maintain with once a week treatments. It all happens at home, and once you have the machine, there is no cost, and there are no bad side effects. I think this solution is underused.
This is a treatment done in the doctor's office, which uses microwave technology to destroy sweat glands. It is FDA approved for the armpits. I should state I don't do this procedure, but from what I have read, and from my best source (my patients who have done it), it's painful, expensive, and results are meh.
6. Topical Anticholinergic Gel
Hot off the presses: this is not out yet, but research is being done on a topical anticholinergic gel—I hope this works because you would not get the side effects from the anticholinergic pills, and you could tailor treatment to where you need it (I am thinking about my lovely sweat mustache here)!
Image: Lachlan Bailey for Twin Magazine
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