For those who don’t sweat excessively, it might be hard to understand what it’s like to live with hyperhidrosis. It’s just sweat, it’s no big deal they might think. But oh, how wrong they are. Here’s a hyperhidrosis video clip from when I filmed a patient perspective video with Pharmacy Times. In it, I talk about some of the worst personal and professional sweating experiences I’ve had as well as tips for how to deal. (Note: I stands for the interviewer asking me the question.) Prefer to read this instead? Here’s the transcript from my video, including things I didn’t say in the clip above, and you can also read more about my trip to film this patient perspective video on hyperhidrosis.
I: Has hyperhidrosis ever made you feel self-conscious, anxious, or depressed?
Hyperhidrosis made me feel the most anxious on the most important day of my life which, was my wedding day.
I was nervous about ruining my satin dress. I chose not to wear fancy high-heels because I didn’t want to be slipping and sliding and potentially breaking an ankle on my big day. So I wore cotton ballet flats with no-show white cotton socks underneath my dress. And then I was also worried about my wedding bouquet. How am I supposed to hold a bunch of beautiful flowers and not get them to wilt just from the sheer moisture and heat from my hands. So I actually had my mother-in-law sew a hand towel around the handle of my bouquet so that I could hold it and not worry.
So the biggest day of my life, my excessive sweating disorder got in the way. I tried not to let it, but it did in some aspects. I also asked the church if they had a fan on hand, and so the church was kind enough to plug in a fan and angle it at the bottom of the aisle. And so it was pointed up at me so that I could feel air move across my body while I was reciting my vows. So I think that’s probably the biggest example I can give of how hyperhidrosis affects quality of life. It’s huge and so many people don’t understand. They think, oh, you know, it’s just a little bit of sweat, it’s not a big deal but it really is.
I: Has excessive sweating caused technical difficulties with electronic devices such as cell phones, computer keyboards, or touch screens?
Excessive sweating can cause me technical difficulties. I have a smart phone so I’m constantly responding to e-mail, or sending text messages, or flipping through my social media channels.
And there are times when my hands are sweating so badly that the keypad doesn’t register what I’m trying to type or it will type a letter or two next to the actual letter that I’m trying to type. So I have to stop, lock my phone, wipe it off with a towel so that I don’t randomly send off any texts or post anything strange. Then I’ll unlock my phone and have to start over. So sometimes I will use a stylus on my iPhone but because my phone is so small, it feels silly to use a stylus pen on such a tiny device. It would make more sense if I had a tablet to do that with.
I’m prone to soaking my computer keyboard at work, so I keep a desk fan right nearby so I can feel the air moving across the keyboard. And I’ve also got a hand towel hidden in my desk drawer for really bad days.
And then as far as choosing activities, when I was in middle school and junior high I refused to be in band because I didn’t want to play an instrument and watch my hands drip with sweat because that would ruin the instrument and cause it to rust. So I opted to sing in the choir instead, and that was also a trigger, too, because I was standing on risers for a choir concert and that’s putting me in the public eye, and putting me on stage, and making my sweating worse.
Where do you turn for social support to cope with excessive sweating; Internet, advocacy groups, support groups, family, friends?
To cope with hyperhidrosis, I turn to a lot of different organizations. The International Hyperhidrosis Society, they’re a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with hyperhidrosis, and they also educate healthcare providers. They’re a great resource of unbiased information. I also do a lot of work for my own personal blog, My Life as a Puddle, and I’m also a member of the WEGO Health Patient Leader Network and the Clara Health Breakthrough Crew, which is all about clinical trials and raising awareness for clinical trials.
Because that’s something that people with hyperhidrosis need is better treatments. And the only way we can get to better treatments is through more clinical trials.
Video footage is courtesy of Pharmacy Times Continuing Education (PTCE) and is from their continuing medical education (CME) activity titled “Examining Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating): A Managed Markets Update on New Treatments, Featuring a Patient Perspective” and was featured as a supplement in the December 2018 edition of the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC).