Living With Hyperhidrosis… (Hyperhi-what?)

Hyperhidrosis – or excessive sweating – affects a little over 220 million people worldwide.
Nearly 8 million Americans and close to 1 million Canadians suffer from this disorder.
I am one of them.

Hyperhidrosis is a disorder that defines individuals who sweat more than the body would normally need to maintain optimal temperature.  It affects approximately 3% of the population – some 950,000 Canadians – of whom 300,000 have a severe form of the disorder.
Hyperhidrosis affects work productivity, confidence, social comfort, emotional well being and wardrobe choices. Studies show that hyperhidrosis impacts quality of life similar to or even greater than other well-known dermatological conditions, such as severe acne or psoriasis.
Source : Canadian Dermatology Association

Though I don’t suffer from the generalized form (a.k.a. secondary hyperhidrosis), my face, armpits and groin areas are the most affected by this condition.

Generalized/secondary hyperhidrosis is often caused by a variety of factor, from endocrinian disorder to nerve damage, menopause and… obesity.

What does it mean, for me, to live with hyperhidrosis…?

I can’t wear the clothes I want/like:

Yep, notably because of the infamous pit stains.  Also, some fabrics tend to stink horribly when in contact with sweat.
Imagine how awkward it is when you leave a moist “butt print” after sitting in a certain spot for a while.
And you thought shopping for a gym outfit was hard? Think of what we go through to find decent clothes adapted to this condition…

Deodorant is useless and regular antiperspirant is just not enough:

I need the hard stuff. Clinical/prescribed stuff or nothing.
The good news is that the effect builds up after a certain time and diminishes perspiration, especially in the axillary (underarm) region.

Every time my environment changes temperature, my face is covered in sweat:

Even in the winter, in the blistering cold, when I get inside, my face is all wet.
And then people invariably ask me how I can possibly be sweating in such weather. Imagine what heat waves means to me…

In situations where everyone would break a sweat, I swim in my own perspiration:

Picture me at the gym.
Also, think of the impression people might have of me when I give a public speech or when I go for a job interview. There is an overwhelming stigma about sweating, which is often associated with smelling bad (not always the case) and it has a serious effect on self-esteem and social interactions.


I just can’t wear make-up:

Yep, even the most waterproof mascara is very likely to run on a night out dancing.  At the risk of looking like a melting clown from hell, I learned to live with my face as it is. I will try to conceal an occasional pimple, but it’s a certainty that the concealer won’t last very long.
What you see is what you get.  #WokeUpJustLikeThat

I carry a facecloth or a small towel in my purse, pretty much all the time:

So I can wipe my face.
Because once I’m settled in a given spot, it can take up to 30 minutes to just stop dripping. It’s either that or…

I get asked all the time if I’m hot or why I am sweating so much:

Kids, adults, everyone is genuinely surprised to see how my body reacts.
Luckily, I don’t smell!

So next time I skip kissing you on the cheeks when I see you and/or I offer to shake your hand…
Trust me, it’s for your own good
and so we can both avoid what could turn into a quite uncomfortable moment!



  1. Fellow hyperhidrosis sufferer here! Mine was bad enough on my hands and feet that I had surgery when I was 12. My hands are sweat-free, my feet are better than they used to be (I can’t wear plastic shoes, but I don’t ruin leather anymore), my armpits are a bit less sweaty, and now I have all of the compensatory sweating to make up for it in my groin, backs of my knees, and under my breasts. Sexy, no? Still worth the surgery, as I can shake hands and use a keyboard without problems now.

    If you ever want to trade horror stories or get clothing recommendations based on how well they deal with sweat, feel free to email me!

    • Hands and feet? That must have been really tough to live with, I can see why you got surgery!!! In my case, the groin and face can be quite annoying too, but Drysol has been a great help for the groin at least. A dermatologist offered Botox (yeah, you read well), apparently, it works for like a year or so, but it’s quite expensive (especially for large areas) and i really don’t want to Botox my face (not now, and i don’t think i will ever want to!).
      I think we really need to raise awareness to that, otherwise, people will keep on thinking we’re just gross, sweaty people! There’s such a stigma around sweating and perspiration, when it’s the most natural process in the world (well in our case, nature is going at it a little more intensely but still)…

      • I considered Botox at one point, but the fact that it’s not permanent kept me from committing to it. Now I hear that there’s a new surgery that will remove the sweat glands rather than cutting the nerves leading to the sweat glands. It’s exciting that there are more and more options to treat it and that people are working on making life easier for us!

        Personally, I’ve gotten to the point that I tell all kinds of people that I have hyperhidrosis when I’m all gross…and when I’m working (I work a physical job), I make sure to wear black tech clothes and pack an extra shirt to change into partway during the day. It’s weird to me that more people haven’t heard of hyperhidrosis, so I agree that the best thing we can do is spread the word that this is an actual medical condition and not a result of not taking care of yourself.

        • I actually do the same and tell people that i have HH. I think sometimes they realize how uncomfortable their question can make me. It’s like if they came up to someone and said “Hey, you lost weight, you look great!” and then find out the person has been terribly sick and lost weight because of that. I don’t think people do it in a mean/harmful way, but that’s still annoying that need to comment on everything unsusual… Does anyone think that we actually choose or enjoy that sweating? It’s not like a haircut or a make-up, it’s imposed to our face (or whatever area we sweat from)!

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