Please welcome Heather, 26, from Charleston, South Carolina to the sweaty tribe. She is a brave soul with hyperhidrosis who has chosen to share her sweaty story on mylifeasapuddle.com. 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 (Hh)?
I experience Hh primarily on my hands (palmar) , feet (plantar) and underarms (axillary).
How did you discover that your excessive sweating is a recognized medical condition?
In college I started doing more research on excessive sweating and read everything I could find about hyperhidrosis online. Later I saw a dermatologist who confirmed that’s what I have.
How does your hyperhidrosis impair your daily life?
Depending on the day, it can range from minor inconvenience to physically and mentally daunting. I work in a lab and often have trouble getting latex/nitrile gloves over my hands because of the sweat. I also have to be careful about dressing too warm even in the winter, or in colors where sweat is visible (I don’t think I own a light gray shirt), or else I’ll be a puddle of sweat underneath my lab coat. I live in the south, but I never wear flip flops in public because my feet slide around too much.
Do you avoid certain things because of your sweating?
Yes. When I was in school I would avoid certain social situations if I knew I’d probably have to shake someone’s hand; even high fives can be cringeworthy. I’ll show up five minutes late to church to avoid the part where we are supposed to greet our neighbors and that awkward moment when they realize my hand is clammy and cold. Church is a big trigger for my Hh. Even though I love going, it’s difficult for me to get as involved as I’d like to knowing there’s so many opportunities for physical contact.
Do you find that hyperhidrosis affects your mental health? If so, in what ways and how do you cope?
Hh can and has affected my mental health if I’m having a very sweaty day, or if I let myself dwell on it. Worrying about people noticing my sweat causes anxiety, which in turn makes the sweating worse. I have to remind myself that no one is looking for my sweat like I am, and the more uncomfortable I feel the more uncomfortable they will feel.
Because of Hh it’s first nature for me to distance myself from others. Often I don’t even realize I’m doing this because I’ve spent so much of my life pushing others away when they get too close. Sometimes I will unintentionally be very hard on myself in other aspects of my life because of the control I don’t have over my Hh. I’ve learned that having down days is only natural with Hh, and those negative feelings are valid as long as I pick myself back up and not let it stop me from living life.
What treatments for hyperhidrosis – if any – have you tried?
The only thing I’ve tried is the Carpe hand cream, which I’ve found works much better than nothing but I can still sweat through if I’m anticipating introducing myself to people.
Is anything working for you to help you cope with your hyperhidrosis?
What helps me the most is being able to talk about it. Before I met my husband I had only mentioned my sweating to my mom a few times, but he eventually convinced me to talk to a counselor about it. I never realized how tired I was of keeping that secret. Also going for a run to clear my head helps a lot.
What’s the worst thing about your hyperhidrosis?
The worst thing is how crippling it can be in situations where I would otherwise be enjoying myself and having fun. Once I get in my head about meeting new people or introducing myself it’s like my Hh goes into overdrive and I dread the whole experience. I’ve let a few opportunities slip by for sure because of my excessive sweating and the resulting effect on my self confidence. Those who get to know me see my true personality, but first impressions are definitely rough thanks to Hh.
What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to hyperhidrosis?
I feel like there’s definitely misconceptions about why people sweat. A lot of people think sweating means you’re too hot or nervous or overweight. I’m five foot tall about 105 lbs, and I can sweat like a man twice my size doing physical labor. A lot of times my hands and feet will sweat just laying in bed when I should be most relaxed. Also, it doesn’t matter if it’s 50 degrees or 90, if the humidity is high or the conditions are right I will sweat! In other words, hyperhidrosis has no real rhyme or reason behind it and hardly ever means I’m nervous or uncomfortable.
What would you like to see in the future when it comes to treatments for hyperhidrosis?
It would be awesome to see some less invasive treatment options in the future that are more effective.
If you could tell the world only one thing about hyperhidrosis, what would it be?
I would say this condition is one that a lot of people struggle with in silence, so don’t judge a book by its cover. There are things we don’t even realize we take for granted every day that others don’t have the privilege to, so be kind and stay humble.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about your sweaty story?
The first time I ever noticed my sweat I was in the first grade. I remember looking down at my hands and thinking it looked like little rivers running through the lines of my palms. Ever since then hyperhidrosis has affected my life in many ways, big and small.
For most of my life I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to hide it. Only recently have I fully come to terms with it and can say I’m not ashamed of my sweat anymore. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a huge nuisance, but for better or worse Hh is a part of who I am and has helped shape the woman I’ve become. At the end of the say I’m just trying to make the best of the hand I was dealt, sweaty or not.
Do you have a sweaty story?
Do you have hyperhidrosis? 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.