When excess sweat is a problem

Posted: April 16, 2012

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Question: For a long time, I’ve suffered from terrible sweating. I’m not overweight, am extremely healthy and I’m not taking any medications. What can you recommend?

Answer: The first thing, which I’m sure you’ve already done, is to look for a possible cause. You’re healthy, but some sufferers have an underlying medical problem like an overactive thyroid, menopausal syndrome with hot flashes, persistent anxiety, frequent low blood sugar reactions or simply too much body fat that makes them sweat excessively.

You may be one of roughly 1 percent of folks who simply sweats a lot. Have you tried the prescription antiperspirant Drysol for underarm sweating? For generalized sweating, Robinul or Robinul Forte might help. It’s a drug to slow a hyperactive bowel, but it has a side effect of dry mouth and decreased sweating.

Iontophoresis or electrophoresis can provide temporary relief using a 9-volt battery current to the palms and soles. Botox injections provide six months of relief for stubborn underarm sweating, but it’s temporary. A new FDA-approved minimally invasive, highly effective treatment called “mira­Dry” uses microwave heat to destroy the sweat glands under the arm. It requires two sessions, costs around $3,000, is potentially permanent and is not currently indicated for the treatment of hyperhidrosis in other areas of the body.

Q: Why are paper cuts so painful?

A: There are several reasons:

First, if you examine a ripped piece of paper or cardboard, you’ll see it’s made from many jagged fibers are held together. That creates a rough cut, unlike the clean cut of a razor blade.

Second, there are lots of delicate sensory nerve endings on the fingertips and face. That means any break in the skin, especially from the rough cut of paper, is going to hurt way out of proportion to the injury sustained.

Third, there are chemicals used in the process of making paper that make contact with the exposed skin of a cut and cause a chemical irritation. The good news for my readers is that newspaper is the least likely form of paper to cause a paper cut, and the immense benefit gained from reading a newspaper outweighs the small risk of a paper cut.

Paper cuts are best treated with antibacterial ointment, preferably one that has a pain-reliever (e.g., Neosporin Plus Pain Relief ointment).

Dr. Mitchell Hecht specializes in internal medicine. Send questions to: “Ask Dr. H,” Box 767787, Atlanta, Ga. 30076. Due to the large volume of mail received, personal replies are not possible.

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