Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Effects of Hyperhidrosis and Living with Sweat

Hyperhidrosis is a condition where you sweat a lot more than what would be considered normal. It is a condition that effects a small percentage of the population in varying degrees and on different parts of the body. Some of the most common places people have it is on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and the underarms. It can also effect pretty much any area of the body such as the scalp, face and torso. To someone who does not have this condition, it may not seem like a big deal, but to those who have it, it can be incredibly difficult to deal with and can have a huge negative effect on the quality of life.

I can remember becoming aware that I had sweaty hands around age 12 or 13. I remember sitting in class with my hands on the table and there would be sweat marks left on the surface from the sweat. In music class, I remember being stressed out about playing the piano because my hands would sweat on the keys. When school dances came around, those were the worst as you might imagine not wanting to hold anyone's hand because of course they were sweaty and it would be very uncomfortable.

In high school it became more noticeable. My hands would sweat a lot in class which was very uncomfortable. I began to sweat more from other areas such as arm pits and feet. I managed to make it through high school and went on to college. It seemed to get worse in college. I can remember sitting in class trying to continuously dry my hands on my pants so as not to get the papers wet on the desk.

One day it got so bad I actually had a panic attack and had to excuse myself in the middle of class. It was so uncomfortable and embarrassing. I did not even return to class until the class was over that day. This condition of course had a huge negative effect on my education and was one of the biggest reasons I decided to drop out of college.

I started to try out different treatment options to see if I could find a solution to the problem. I tried prescription antiperspirant, oral medication, and even purchased an iontophoresis machine which helps limit sweat by sending an electrical current to your hands while placed in water. Some of the treatments helped a bit, but nothing was an absolute cure. There are a few other treatment options such as botox and invasive surgery which I do not plan on doing because of the costs and side effects of these treatments which can often turn out to be worse than the original condition.

After college, I started working in food delivery which was pretty good for this condition because I spent a lot of time on the go and by myself so the sweat was not very noticeable. A couple years later I got a job at a school as a teacher assistant. This job was much more difficult to deal with because you are stuck in a classroom all day and you have to work closely with other teachers and students. It was incredibly stressful to do this while I was sweating a lot and trying to hide it and ignore the physical discomfort.

I had a couple other panic attacks while in class working with students. To describe it, my heart would start beating so hard and fast and I would start sweating even more and I could not focus on anything except how uncomfortable and stressed out I felt. Both times I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom to calm down. I also remember having a panic attack like this at one of the meetings where I was sweating a lot and felt like I was stuck there and could not get out.

After struggling with the school job for about 7 years I managed to start finding jobs working from home. This was better because at least if I was sweating at home it would not be a big deal because there would be no one to notice it.

My social life has been influenced the most because of hyperhidrosis. Any kind of social interaction is stressful for me because of this condition. Whenever you are with people or meeting new people it is expected that you shake hands. This is one of the things people with palmar hyperhidrosis dread the most. Even things like going to a restaurant or a movie are very uncomfortable if you are sweating a lot. Because of this I tend to avoid social interactions as much as possible. As a result, the amount of friends and relationships I have had has been very limited.

Physically it makes things more difficult. For example if you are trying to hold something or open something it can be very difficult if your hands are sweating. Many of my shirts get ruined by stains from continuously drying my hands on them over time. I have to clean things like the computer keyboard and mouse daily because with sweaty hands, it leaves a residue on these things just from normal use.

Clothing choices are completely determined by this condition. I always wear an undershirt to absorb sweat. I almost always wear pattern materials on the outside because they hide sweat a lot better than solid colors. I often wear extra layers to help absorb sweat even though it makes it more hot. Footwear has to be breathable and comfortable.

It can be hard to describe how it really feels to have this condition. To get an idea of what it is like to have hyperhidrosis, try the following:

Go to a sink and lightly cover the palms of your hands with water. Shake them off so they are not dripping anymore, but still wet. Now imagine going though your entire day like this not being able to ever get them dry. Even if you dry them with a towel or on your clothes, 30 seconds later they will be wet again. Then think about trying to shake people's hands or try to do some kind of work while your hands are wet like this. This will give you an idea of how it feels to have hyperhidrosis. And that is just on the hands. Most people have it in multiple areas and even in more noticeable areas like the face which can be very embarrassing in social situations.

As you can see hyperhidrosis has had a huge effect on my life as well as others who have this same condition. To this day I have not told many people about this but instead have tried to hide it all this time due to embarrassment. I hope this article raises a little awareness about hyperhidrosis. As of right now there is still not a good solution to this problem. Hopefully one day there will be a solid cure for this condition which has been so devastating to the lives of those who have to live with it.

Update 4-24-20:
It's been 6 years since I originally wrote this so I thought I would give a little update on how things are going. I am no longer doing the work from home type jobs since I have transitioned into the app based gig jobs such as grocery and food delivery. I find these kind of jobs work pretty well for someone with hyperhidrosis since you are on your own most of the time and don't have to interact with other people too much.

My sweating tends to go in waves for example I will be sweating a lot for a few weeks, then for a few weeks not so much. I think it depends on a lot of things for example the amount of stress happening at that time, the temperature, what kind of events or activities I may have to attend etc.

For treatment, I am still using the iontophoresis machine. I tend to use it daily or every other day if I am sweating. If I am feeling dry, I may go weeks without using it.

Overall it still affects my life a lot, but I have learned to deal with it pretty well.


  1. I'm got the issue too. So sad.

  2. I just read this and I'm in shock. It's INSANE the fact that I just found my own life written by another person.
    I understand everything you have lived, because I have the same condition as you.
    You will never imagine how many thing I have wanted to do but I didn't do beacuse my condition.
    I really want to have the surgery but I don't have money enough and in my country is really expensive.
    Saddly his condition won't never let me be happy.

    1. Thank you for your reply! It's nice to know there are others out there who can relate to this condition. It is a shame how it has a negative effect on the quality of life, but we have to make the most of it. There are many other worse conditions out there so I suppose everyone has their own struggles.

      Make sure to do research if you are considering the surgery because some have reported it makes the condition worse in other areas. I hope you are able to be happy despite this condition!

  3. hey there - had to reply because experienced everything you and others described - then one day I decided just to tell everyone I could about it - "I got your paper wet because..." I'm shivering yet sweating because, I just put on this shirt but soaked through because... and you know what - most of it went away. Still deal with it and have found some triggers such as socks, certain fabrics, etc but so much better to deal with the initial embarrassment because I was shocked how little judgement and how much acceptance I received from others and I was even more shocked when it started going away. Hope something similar happens to you

    1. Connected IsolationMarch 6, 2017 at 8:21 AM

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I think you are right that telling people may help the stress of trying to hide it. That is great to hear that people were accepting an non-judgemental about it. Thank you for for support!

  4. I don't want to sound too harsh, but I feel this needs to be said (or typed). I live with hyperhidrosis as well. My mother remembers putting a towel under my baby swing because my feet would be dripping sweat. I have excessive sweating of my hands, feet and groin. I've had some rather embarrassing moments of standing up to have my pants look like I sat in a puddle. It definitely adds another dynamic to relationships but I've found the best way to handle it is to confidently and comfortably bring it up when it's noticeable. My husband loves to pick on me about it, all of my family members are aware of it, as well as most of my close friends and co-workers (I work directly with patients in healthcare). I say something like "I'm sorry about that, it's just my hyperhidrosis". And I casually clean it up. Sometimes I bring up my baby swing story with some light humor to help someone understand that it's something that isn't exactly in my control. I feel I've always had a pretty understanding response from others with this approach.

    I want to make it clear that I've never felt like I was a victim of hyperhidrosis. It's not "so sad", it won't "never let me be happy". Yeah, it totally sucks and life would be easier if I didn't have to deal with it, but it's part of me and my wonderful blessed life. I recommend observing what triggers more sweating and making adjustments, for instance, wearing socks actually helps my sweating so I rarely have bare feet or wear sandals. I pay attention to what material my pants are so that I can wipe my hands off when they get too wet and so they don't show wet spots as easily when I sit. STRESS MANAGEMENT is, in my opinion, the best way to improve Hyperhidrosis. The condition is self perpetuating, the more you sweat the more anxious you get, the more anxious you get the more you sweat. I use it as a meter to measure my stress level and an indicator that I need to reign in my stress level. I still have moments when I sweat like crazy and I'm not perfect, but it's all in how we look at it.

    I don't know if I'd call it a gift after living with it for 30 plus years, but I do know that gifts have developed because of it. It's all in how we look at it, how we look at life. Each of us are responsible for our own happiness and success in coping with hyperhidrosis and with anything in life. We're not victims, we're empowered individuals who are made by God to accomplish great things in our lives. Despite the many bumps in the road, we each have many more things to be grateful for.

    1. Connected IsolationMarch 30, 2017 at 8:47 AM

      Thank you for sharing your story Lindsey. You have a great perspective on this condition! I agree, it is closely tied with stress and is a good way to measure stress levels.

      I find it is usually certain situations, environments, or activities that tend to increase the sweating, but sometimes I will feel calm and relaxed and still be sweating so it is still a little bit of a mystery.

      I also look for methods to help cope such as clothing materials that absorb but do not show sweat like you mentioned.

      It is great to hear positive experiences like this to help inspire those out there struggling with the same condition.

    2. Thank you for being so open to my comments. You're spot on, I do hope to help inspire others. Thanks for listening (reading) and for you kind response!

  5. while i don't have the condition, when i was a kid, i did sweat more than the average student, and activities where most students would get a bit damp, i was drenched in sweat. it was worst was when we all dressed up for school dances and we were supposed to look clean and neat. if i moved around at all, my hair became a wet mess. it was so embarrassing. :(

    i did find some positives... when working at places where money had to be counted or pieces of paper needed to be flipped through, i didn't need to stop to dampen my fingers while everyone else struggled and had to keep wetting their fingers. so, my productivity was higher than everyone else. lol

    note - i did dry out more as i aged, so i hope you might have that same luck. again, i was a mild case.

    also, for whatever reason, my face and skin remained young much longer than everyone else. i attribute it to the sweating. so, if my observations are true, then as long as you survive your teen years and midlife, you will be the envy of everyone else in your old age! hopefully, it's true. at least it's been for me.

    finally...i also seemed to notice that while i tended to get more acne as well (sigh), i did not get infected as easily on my skin. once my skin dried out, i was much more susceptible to infections. i am curious to know if those of you who have the full syndrome have experienced more, less, or a normal amount of skin-specific infections. I am not talking about pneumonia, strep, bladder, or other kinds of infections--only skin infections.


    1. Connected IsolationMay 1, 2017 at 12:46 PM

      You are right, there are some positives, for example it makes it very easy to turn pages and pick up very small things such as crumbs.

      That is good to hear your case got better with age. For me it seems to be getting slightly better as I get older. Not sure if it is physical or I have just learned to manage it better.

      Also that is good news about having younger looking skin later on in life!

      For skin infections, my skin tends to be ok, but I did have a case of pityriasis rosea a while back which I wrote about here:

      Thank you for sharing your experience!

  6. i just want a girlfriend who understand this, anyone there? please!!

    1. Connected IsolationOctober 9, 2019 at 5:45 PM

      From my research, it seems like most partners are understanding of the condition and are able to accept it.