No Sweat, No Stress

If excessive sweating is taking a toll on your day-to-day (not to mention your dry-cleaning bills), look no further. Santa Monica Dermatologist Dr. Karyn Grossman discusses science-backed treatments that will stop the sweat for good.

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Sweating is a common problem that can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Perspiration during a workout is one thing; but many of my patients are concerned with underarm sweat during normal, daily activities,” says Dr. Grossman. It can ruin clothes and be a source of embarrassment. Some patients also suffer from hyperhidrosis – or excessive sweating. And, we have also seen a rise in teens heading off to college wanting to deal with their underarm sweat as well.  Less maintenance at school is seen as a bonus. Luckily, there are multiple modalities for dealing with sweat. 

Deodorants and antiperspirants, the first line of treatment for unwanted sweat, work by forming superficial plugs that are just below the surface of the skin. While they can work well, they often destroy clothes, leaving either white streaks or discoloration that comes through the pits. For those who find over-the-counter deodorants ineffective, there are prescription antiperspirants and wipes. Prescription and specialty antiperspirants that contain aluminum chloride hexahydrate are among the most effective antiperspirants. These products – many of which are now available over the counter -- work, but can cause skin irritation in some. “Now I am seeing a trend. Many more patients are trying to avoid antiperspirants altogether,” Dr. Grossman says. “As we are learning more about the ways that chemicals can be absorbed into our skin, my patients are concerned about the products they are applying and how they can affect health. Some companies have responded by making aluminum-free deodorants, although patients tell me they are a lot less effective. And, while they help to mask odors, they do not decrease sweat production.” Wipes are used on the skin to inhibit neurotransmitters on the sweat glands, reducing the amount of sweat produced. The wipes work well, but some patients are bothered by dry skin and dry mouth that can happen from use.

Many people want chemical-free, long-term solutions that actually work. A common and easy in-office treatment is injecting neuromodulators. Neuromodulators work by temporarily blocking the secretion of sweat and odor from the sweat glands. Patients like it because it leaves the skin bone dry – there is really no sweat at all. However, patients need to have treatment a few times per year, and the costs can add up quickly.

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One of our most popular quick, in-office treatments is miraDry, which is the only non-surgical, FDA-cleared procedure that permanently reduces underarm sweat and odor. After the area is numbed, miraDry uses thermal energy to create heat in the area where bothersome sweat and odor glands reside and safely eliminates them. Some patients are worried about the loss of these glands.  However, it is important to note that the underarm contains only 2% of the sweat glands in your body, so losing them does not have a physiological effect.

Dr. Grossman’s practice had the first miraDry machine in California, and she, herself was one of the first patients treated. “That was 11 years ago.  And, I have not worn deodorant since!” she raves. “Yes, I do sweat during exercise, but still less than I used to.  And on a day to day basis, I have not had a need for it at all.  It has saved a lot on my clothes and dry cleaning bills.” Dr. Grossman highly recommends a miraDry consultation (free at her office) for anyone interested in permanently reducing underarm sweat and odor.

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