By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: August 18, 2010
Summer temperatures can be ruthless for the hot-flash challenged menopausal woman. August is usually my most dreaded month of the year due to the triple digit temperatures that are common in my area. Last week, I ditched my purse for an emergency survival tote bag because I find myself needing to haul more gadgets to cool me off during the day.
I feel I can really only face my perceptibly sweltering days when armed with an array of objects to prevent me from overheating. A cute big hat, blotting tissues, personal hand-held fan, cooling towels, water bottles, hand wipes, sunscreen, special clothing, even hand held spray misters reserve space in my tote. Unfortunately, my garden hose would not fit into my tote. I shower more and use more antiperspirant during the summer but recently I find myself asking how far would I actually go to sweat less?
“Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” Sure it sounds effective, but disappointingly, it’s not enough for my excessive summertime sweating. Maybe they should change their slogan to “Strong enough for a man, but made for a non-menopausal woman”.
Antiperspirants work by blocking the eccrine gland ducts in the armpit using common active ingredients with big words, like aluminum chloride, aluminum zirconium tricholorohydrex glycine, aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum hydroxybromide. Aluminum ingredients have been under fire recently for their possible connection to breast cancer. However the evidence is inconclusive. The American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute both agree, “There is no conclusive research linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.”
The FDA requires all over-the-counter antiperspirants to have no more than 15-25% of the active ingredient concentration. The FDA also requires every antiperspirant to decrease the average person’s sweat by at least 20 percent. New, prescription-strength antiperspirants are now available that contain concentrations higher than over-the-counter ones. They may cost a little more on the front end, but the relief of knowing you won’t have those embarrassing wet spots under your arms may be worth it!
For those whose moisture soaks beyond the antiperspirant products, the next step is botulinum toxin A, also known as Botox. We usually think of Botox as a wrinkle-fighter but it is also FDA approved to diminish armpit sweat. The treatment is administered in an injection just under the skin’s surface. The entire office visit takes about 10 minutes. The treatment usually lasts around 6-12 months and costs about $1,000. If you’re considering Botox injections for armpits, talk to your healthcare provider about all the side effects that may be associated with them.
The next line of defense against unwanted, excessive sweat is prescription oral medications. Oral treatments that have been used include anticholinergics, beta blockers and clonidine hydrochloride. Not everyone has these in their medicine cabinets. They could help you sweat less, but they also have some long term, serious side effects that you should thoroughly discuss with your healthcare provider prior to trying them out.
Still soaking through your t-shirts? The final line and most severe option for stopping the sweat is surgery. It’s a more aggressive option for those people who excessively sweat even when it’s not hot out and who have tried the aforementioned options. Local surgical procedures include excision, curettage and liposuction of the nerves that lead to sweating under the arms. Hot flash hot mamas who only drip in the heat may want to consider other lines of defense first, because surgery may be accompanied by some serious side effects.
If you’re not willing to go the distance for treating your sweaty underarms, don’t worry. Try these everyday solutions to make sweating less of a burden on your life:
- If the stink is your problem, shower or bathe using an antibacterial soap. Bacteria and sweat on your skin can make for a stinky combination.
- Swipe on some antiperspirant twice a day to the places you sweat. They can be used on hands and feet as well as underarms.
- Wear loose clothing with breathable fibers. When you work out, try using those high-tech fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin.
- Carry some wipes with you to control smell and cool off. One more item to add to the tote bag!
- Breathe in and breathe out. Stress causes more sweating, so try to relax.
It’s normal to sweat about an ounce and a half a day (enough to fill a shot glass). If you’re having major sweating issues, talk to your health care provider (HCP) to find out the reason. If hot flashes are the enemy, your HCP can provide you with some advice for limiting and alleviating them. Some people may sweat excessively due to medications they are taking or other underlying medical problems. Be aware, you may be referred to see the dermatologist to seek further treatment.
Find more information on breast cancer risk and antiperspirants at the National Cancer Institute
Cohn, Meredith. “Treatments About for Excess Sweat.” Women’s Health. Baltimore Sun, 04 08 2010. Web. 18 Aug 2010.
“Definition of Hyperhidrosis.” About Hyperhidrosis. International Hyperhidrosis Society, n.d. Web. 18 Aug 2010.
“If You’re Sweating Way Too Much, Consider These Fixes.” Booster Shots. Los Angeles Times, 05 08 2010. Web. 18 Aug 2010.