Meet Anonymous, 33, from Massachusetts. She is a brave soul with hyperhidrosis who has chosen to share her sweaty story on mylifeasapuddle.com. I want my blog to be a safe space for those who find me, which is why her guest post is anonymous. Going public about our sweaty secret can be scary, but using our sweaty voices is the bravest thing we will ever do.
On what areas of your body do you experience hyperhidrosis?
Hands (palmar hyperhidrosis), feet (plantar hyperhidrosis), armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis), groin, face (craniofacial hyperhidrosis)
How did you discover that your excessive sweating is a recognized medical condition?
At some point in high school, I remember seeing a news special about hyperhidrosis and was floored that there were others like me. Until then, none of my pediatricians had ever said anything about it. When I brought it up to my pediatrician at the time, he was pretty dismissive about it.
How does your hyperhidrosis impair your daily life?
It affects pretty much everything, from:
- How I choose to go to work
- What I wear (clothes and shoes)
- Taking exams on paper and leaving sweat marks
- Sitting through meetings at work
- How often I need to do laundry or change socks and underwear
- Paying at the cash register, and
- Having to shake hands or give high fives.
I chose to go to college in Maine in part because cold weather is easier than hot weather.
Do you avoid certain things because of your sweating?
All the time! Most recently, I avoided playing pool at a work outing.
Do you find that hyperhidrosis affects your mental health? If so, in what ways and how do you cope?
What treatments for hyperhidrosis – if any – have you tried?
- Certain Dri antiperspirant
- Botox injections in my hands
- Other topical antiperspirant creams for feet and hands
- Iontophoresis, and
- Being presented as a case study at Dermatology Grand Rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital
Is anything working for you to help you cope with your hyperhidrosis?
Yes. I cope as best I can through outlets like running, biking, being outside and also talk therapy, recharging with alone time, reading. I think I loved running and sports in general because I considered cross country and track the great equalizer for me…if you’re running your heart out in a 5k race, you’re supposed to be sweating.
What’s the worst thing about your hyperhidrosis?
The negative reactions I get from some people when shaking hands, etc.
What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to hyperhidrosis?
That we sweat because we’re nervous and that somehow we can make it stop on demand.
What would you like to see in the future when it comes to treatments for hyperhidrosis?
Something that works and doesn’t have severe side effects or causes compensatory sweating. Also, more research into the genetics behind hyperhidrosis.
If you could tell the world only one thing about hyperhidrosis, what would it be?
Like any other medical condition, it’s not something we can help or control all the time.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about your sweaty story?
A few things come to mind when I think of how hyperhidrosis has impacted my life in recent years.
The first is when I was repeating the MCAT while applying to medical school for the second time and I needed to provide an electronic fingerprint before testing for ID purposes. I was nervous because of the exam and so of course my hands were sweating profusely and my fingerprint wouldn’t register.
I tried explaining about hyperhidrosis and that at this point, wiping my hands on my jeans wasn’t going to do much. The exam proctors looked at me like I was crazy, didn’t have an inkpad to do a regular fingerprint, and suggested that they might not let me test.
Needless to say, I was in full panic by then and I don’t remember exactly how they decided to let me start the test, but I do remember sobbing quietly in front of my computer for several minutes before trying to pull myself together to begin the physics section.
Reader, I did not do well on the exam. My dermatologist gave me a letter explaining my hyperhidrosis to use another time, but in the end, I decided medical school was no longer for me because of this incident and many other incidents while working in a hospital and research labs.
Wearing a Cast With Hyperhidrosis
Last summer, I broke my wrist and pelvis in a bike crash. My wrist fracture was so severe that I required surgery to set the fracture and a metal plate along the bone. When the surgeon explained that the metal plate serves as an internal cast and I would be wearing a removable splint instead of a plaster cast, I was so thankful.
I had been dreading wearing a cast on my wrist for 6 weeks with hyperhidrosis and thinking my hand would basically just rot in the cast or they would have to make me a new cast every week.
Luckily, too, I had occupational therapists who were not put off by my sweaty hands while they had to treat my wrist. Hyperhidrosis definitely still complicated things like keeping my stitches dry. I had to meticulously clean my splint and change the sleeve I wore underneath it frequently, but at least I didn’t have to suffer through an itchy, sweaty cast for most of the summer.
Do you have a sweaty story?
I’ve opened my blog to the larger hyperhidrosis community. If you’d like to be featured, please fill out the form on my Contact Me page. In the subject line, enter Guest Post. Not a writer? No worries! I can edit your story, send you questions to answer to create one, or you can record a video.