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Thanks to my dad (and well, genetics in general, I guess) I’ve suffered from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) since I was a child. My palms are sweaty and cold about 80 percent of the time — regardless of the climate I’m in. Of course, as someone who also deals with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder, this neurological condition is further exacerbated in times of stress or when my hormones are out of whack.
Sometimes, my palms are just a tad clammy, and other times, they’re legitimately drenched. Over the years, I’ve kind of learned to get over stressing about what the other person thinks is wrong with me (it is what it is, right?) But let’s be honest here: shaking hands with a new colleague or first Hinge date when I’m having a “flare-up” isn’t exactly the ideal first impression. Of course, my excessively perspiring palms aren’t the only source of frustration that hyperhidrosis has dealt me — it’s also been known to cause glaringly obvious sweat rings on my favorite silk blouses (and naturally, ruined them with the eventual yellow-tinged stains and a lingering odor that refuses to budge.)
While I’ve gotten by with using a few of clinical-strength antiperspirants (as well versions designed for your palms), I discovered that Botox injections are an effective and non-surgical treatment for excessive sweating when I divulged to a makeup artist that I had hyperhidrosis. She told me that her husband, a police officer in Downtown Los Angeles, swears by the neurotoxin treatment to keep his grip perfectly dry when on the job. Naturally, I was immediately intrigued and decided to do more research about this off-label therapeutic indication for the wrinkle-reducing procedure — because clearly, I was down.
There are two main forms of hyperhidrosis: axillary (excessive underarm sweating) and palmoplantar (excessive sweating on the hands and feet). Clinical research is pretty inconclusive when it comes to the cause, but it seems that the condition has some sort of hereditary component, which explains why both my dad and aunt (his sister) also deal with it. “Botox is extremely effective for treating hyperhidrosis and can last up to 9 months,” Nancy Pellegrino, NP told me before we discussed my own procedure.
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While my sweaty hands were my desired area of treatment — along with being the bane of my existence — Botox injections in the palms are generally performed by a neurologist (and only sometimes covered by insurance), so we opted for my second biggest source of sweat-induced distress: my armpits. Botox treatment for excessive sweating in the palms or feet requires an entire vial (about 100 units), which is far more than you’d for your crow’s feet or forehead lines, which makes the procedure rather expensive for a temporary fix. While the price varies on a number of factors, including whether or not your insurance will cover it, it generally will set you back at least a grand or so.
As a self-professed worrywart/hypochondriac, I naturally had to inquire about potential side effects. “The only potential side effects for the procedure is that sometimes, we see an increased amount of sweating in the other untreated parts of the body,” Nurse Nancy confirmed. For instance, if you had the Botox treatment in your underarms, it’s possible your palms or upper lip may sweat more as a result. Aside from that, occasional and temporary bruising is the only thing you have to worry about.
Now, let’s talk about the actual procedure. I have a fairly high pain tolerance and have gotten Botox in my crows’ feet before, so this wasn’t my first time dealing with dermal injectables. However, your underarms are much more delicate than your forehead and temples, so many patients find the process to be rather painful. Nurse Nancy first applied a numbing agent to armpits and we waited for it to “kick in” for about 15 minutes (basically, until they felt numb). To be completely honest, I’m ridiculously ticklish, so I was more concerned about not being able to be still than I was about pain. Each armpit took about 5 minutes, and Nurse Nancy was super gentle and methodical with her placement. Frankly, I didn’t feel a thing. I left the office a half-hour later, with no pain or side effects, but the following day my underarms were a bit red and felt raw (which is totally normal). This slight, post-procedure discomfort disappeared in about three days and was pretty minor.
I had my procedure done back in mid-November — like cosmetic neurotoxin injections, it takes about 2-3 weeks to see the full results. After a couple of months, I can honestly say the treatment was 100 percent effective. I used to apply antiperspirant twice daily to keep my excessive underarm sweating and well, B.O. at bay, but the other week I went an entire day and a half (thanks to forgetting my deodorant while staying at boyfriend’s place) and it didn’t even occur to me that my pits were utterly untouched until I saw my BF putting on his. Basically, the fact that I wasn’t uncomfortably soaking through my t-shirt, or stinky enough to panic and/or make a mad dash home to find my deodorant, is a solid testament to how effective Botox is for treating hyperhidrosis.
It’s still “winter,” but first of all, I live in Los Angeles and second of all, I’m always hot. I’ve done some pretty intense workouts post-procedure, and while my face and back were completely drenched in sweat, my underarms remained moderately dry. I was concerned that the Botox injections in my underarms would cause my palms and feet to go legit haywire with the sweating (considering the aforementioned side effect), but I haven’t noticed any considerable changes in this arena. While my sweaty hands remain a bit of a trigger when it comes to anxiety, it’s really nice to be able to wear my light-colored blouses without having to worry about destroying them thanks to super-soaker sweat rings. Overall, while it can be expensive if you think about how long the treatment lasts and the ability to feel confident and secure when you’re nervous or just having a flare-up, I think the cost is entirely warranted.
If you’re not in the position to treat excessive sweating with injectables, whether for financial reasons or otherwise, there are some OTC treatments that can help keep your hyperhidrosis in check. Sure, they’re not going to be as effective as Botox or a surgical procedure, but in my experience, they definitely do work. Here are some of the products that have gotten me by pre-procedure, and that I continue to use for my palms, face, and feet.
I rely on this product to keep my palm perspiration from wrecking the first impression when I meet new clients and colleagues. It really does work and smells amazing to boot.
These anti-perspiration pads effectively reduce excess sweating for up to 7 days. They’re only approved for underarms at the moment, but I’ve personally swiped them above my upper lip and on my palms before an anxiety-inducing meeting, and they totally did the trick.
These antiperspirant wipes are a must for my handbag. Anytime I’m having a “bad day” or experiencing anxiety-induced “precipitation,” I whip out these convenient wipes and they help keep my underarms, palms and upper lip nice and dry.
This powerful antiperspirant spray is formulated for underarm protection, but I admittedly use it for off-label uses. Namely, I spritz a bit on my upper lip and palms before a nerve-wracking outing (or just a super humid day) and I’m fully covered. This product gets bonus points because the fragrances also smell amazing,
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