We recently met with Mostafa, a hyperhidrosis sufferer from Loughborough who has experienced the symptoms of excessive sweating for the majority of his life. After trying and testing many, many things, he is finally able to manage his condition. We asked him to share his story…
“I am a severe hyperhidrotic person. I can’t remember since when because I have grown up and found myself like that (I think I was born with it already). I am now 35. The 3 affected areas are my hands, feet and the underarms, and the severity level is more or less the same.
“I have therefore been living with this nasty condition all my life and the space here is quite limited to explain how negatively it did affect my quality of life throughout the different stages of my life. When I was in the primary school age, I used to use loads of tissues underneath my hands to do the school work and writing activities. However it was not until the secondary school age when I actually started to realise that I am indeed different from other people. When I joined university, I was very embarrassed. Life was becoming more difficult even on very simple day to day activities, for example, shaking hands, sitting confidently next to other people in a lecture, and getting on with friends was a challenge, etc. I had to use loads of sprays, change t-shirts quite often, and shoes hardly lived with me for a couple of months. To do university work, the tissues were still there. At examination time, however, it was a nightmare. Tissues were not enough. I had to use towels.
“After I graduated, I got offered a job straight away as a lecturer. You can imagine how embarrassing it is standing in front of students with sweat stains underneath your arms. I couldn’t wear any dark shirts, and I loved winter than summer as I used to wear jumpers to hide the stains. Yes – I could actually feel it when doing things which are, to other people, normal activities, for example attending meetings, interviews, lectures, etc. I can actually feel that something inside me was wrong which makes me uncomfortable and anxious, but I couldn’t help it.
“In 2009, I got fed up and decided to speak up. So I visited my GP and talked to him about it. He offered me pills and roll on antiperspirant thinking that this might be the cure, but unfortunately nothing happened. So he then referred me to a specialist dermatologist. It was only at this time when I started seeing some light down the tunnel. The dermatologist explained that this is a medical condition called “hyperhidrosis” and that he is aware of it and that it is affecting loads of other people as well and that there are some treatments out there that can help. Really? This thing has got a name? And I am not alone? Treatments? Please tell me more. I even started researching it myself to see what is going on.
“To start with, he offered me Botox, only for underarms though, as he said it is quite painful for the hands and feet. The injections were quite painful and it didn’t really last long with me anyway. He then booked me in for surgery where they cut the overactive nerve and stop triggering the sweat glands. But when I looked into its side effects, I got scared and decided against it. Finally, he then introduced the iontophoresis machines to me and explained that the electric current output from these machines can help reduce the sweating. I accepted the offer because I was quite determined to try any kind of treatment as long as it is not touching the nerves. So I started the treatments in the NHS hospital for the three affected areas and it was not until the fourth session when it really started to make a difference. I was very impressed about the results. After I completed the initial program (7 sessions, I think), sweating was significantly reduced. I couldn’t believe it. For the first time in my life I started having some dry hands, feet, and underarms as well; and life started to change.
“The only down thing, however, is that I had to regularly keep doing sessions (for me is about once every week) to maintain the dryness. Fortunately, smaller versions of these machines are offered for purchase for home/private use. So I don’t have to go to the hospital every time I need a treatment session. So I bought one and regularly use it at home to help reduce my sweating. Now I cannot live without it. I take it with me everywhere I go, even on holidays. Having been using it for the past few years now already, however, I noticed that the machine I used to use in the hospital was more powerful. This might be because it runs from mains and the one I bought uses only 4xAA batteries, although the supplier is trying to deny this fact by claiming that all the machines deliver the same amount of power, regardless.
“Having been made more aware of such a condition, I kept researching it to get more information about any new treatments that might come up. As a result, just recently I got to know about a newly developed machine called “miraDry” for treating the underarm sweating. When I looked into it, I found out that its idea is to burn out (non-invasively) the internal layer of the skin where the sweat glands reside. I quite liked the idea and decided to go for it, again as long as it is not touching the nerves. The clinic explained that usually two treatments are needed (about three months apart) for best permanent results as the sweating might come back if I only have one treatment.
“I have now had my first miraDry treatment about two and a half months ago. Apart from the quite stinging local anaesthetic injections at the beginning and the swelling after the treatment, the results were very impressive. My underarms stopped sweating completely straight away after the treatment. I just couldn’t believe it. Straight after the procedure, I deliberately went into situations where I used to sweat a lot (for example meetings, interviews, presentations, etc.) but nothing happened. I did not sweat. A very funny thing, however, is that I had the same feeling that I was sweating, and I actually felt the drops coming down, but when I had a look, there was nothing there. Probably it is something psychological as I am not used to “not sweating” yet.
“Although it does not cure the root cause, which is the over active nerve, yet by burning out the sweat glands, the final goal is still achieved, which is stopping the sweating. Hence, it might be interesting to know that I still strongly feel my nervous system is activated, but no sweating from the underarms is happening. Something like switching on the radio with a broken loudspeaker. The sweating, however, only started to come back after about 20 days from the first treatment, and I now cannot wait to have my second treatment done because for me this treatment was really a life changing procedure, although I am still sweating from my hands and feet.”