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!