The best ways to treat excessive sweating and prevent body odour

Daniel Pinne has lost count of the number of times he's been declined entry into a swanky bar because of the dress code.

His signature outfit - shorts, thongs, singlet - isn't because he's lazy or even overly casual. It's an essential cooling mechanism. He suffers from a condition called hyperhidrosis. Or to you and I, excessive sweating.

Summer hell

"I sweat on the sweat of my sweat" Pinne jokes.

As everyone else celebrates the start of summer, Pinne dreads it and has missed out on many social occasions where he lives in Northcote, Victoria, as a result of his condition.

"I'm known amongst my mates for being a massive sweater and when the summer months roll around, it's the worst time of year for me."

There are times, too, he has to wear a shirt in his work as a Digital Specialist. Giving presentations causes high anxiety.

"I'd get so self-conscious and nervous in front of the crowd" Pinne says.

Uncommon issues

Statistics show that excessive sweating affects up to three per cent of the population. But many men worry that they sweat too much and become anxious about the appearance or smell of it, according to Dermatologist and Cosmetic Surgeon Dr Daniel Lanzer. "This is a common issue for my patients" he says, adding that when he started 28 years ago, men were five per cent of his clients. Now, 60 per cent are men.

"People are often quite desperate by the time I see them. It's had a huge impact on their lives - they think about it every single day and it affects their confidence. Some men have it go through their suits, so there's a big black stain by the end of the day." Dr Lanzer says. He points out that "having smelly armpits is different from the medical condition of excessive sweating." There are, mercifully, solutions for both problems.

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Deodorant vs antiperspirant

Dr Tony Caccetta, a Specialist Dermatologist at Perth Dermatology Clinic, says that some people still confuse deodorants with antiperspirants when they're quite different products. "Deodorants don't reduce sweating, but rather mask the smell of sweating and improve odour. Antiperspirants contain metallic salts which block the sweat ducts, reducing the amount of sweat reaching the skin."

But none of this worked well for Daniel Pinne.

"Initially I started researching 'cures' but I learnt that this is my body's natural, healthy way of cooling down" he says.

"Once I learnt that antiperspirants block your pores, I didn't want to use them. Their chemicals would cause me itchiness and redness. It was the BO smell I worried most about and they didn't always prevent that either."  

After testing different products, Pinne discovered an all-natural deodorant paste that gave him the results he was after.

"I still sweat as much, but the smell has gone and so has the itchiness and redness" he says.

Next step solutions

For some, though, even an all natural antiperspirant won't cut it.

Dr Lanzer says patients approach him when over the counter solutions have failed them. Botox is the most common solution which resolves the underarm problem for 95% of his clients. "Botox has dramatically changed the story for sweaters" he says. "It blocks the nerves so it stops a lot of the sweating altogether." It's the same Botox that's used on the face to combat wrinkles, except a much higher dosage - he uses 15-20 units for wrinkles but 100 Botox units for underarm sweating.

The challenge with this procedure is that it has to be repeated every six-to-nine months to remain effective. But, Dr Lanzer adds, Medicare will cover the majority of the expense if a qualified dermatologist diagnoses you with excessive sweating.

Permanent fixes

There's a permanent, surgical fix for those who don't want the inconvenience of regular underarm Botox appointments - underarm liposuction.

"It's used as a last resort" Dr Lanzer says. "It's the same as liposuction, except you're removing glands instead of fat."

If it sounds extreme, though, it's nothing compared with past procedures, undertaken twenty years ago. Lanzer says whole glands were cut out from the skin and replaced with a graft. Or, in extreme cases, 'sympathetic nerve dissection' was carried out: nerves were cut at the spine and lungs needed to be deflated for the procedure to take place.

Ouch.

Luckily, for men like Daniel Pinne, today's less intense options have worked well. "I did a presentation for work this morning and for once, I barely noticed the sweating" he says, relieved.

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