(Above Image Credit: Oakie @jetcityninja)
Please welcome Erin for my next guest post. Thank you, Erin, for having the courage to share your story. Welcome to the sweaty tribe.
My name is Erin, and I live in Seattle. I have hyperhidrosis on multiple parts of my body, but it’s my hands [palmar hyperhidrosis] and feet [plantar hyperhidrosis] that bother me the most and that I am the most willing to talk about here.
Feeling Unworthy of Touch
I can’t pinpoint the exact age when I realized that I sweated more than most people, but I know it was sometime in early elementary school. I remember having to walk down the hall to gym or art class, holding hands with my classmates and being asked, “Ew, why are your hands so wet?” It was a phrase I have heard countless times in my life since then (luckily not always with an ‘ew’) and one that always makes me feel untouchable.
My mom and older sister both have sweaty hands and feet like me, and so I had the luxury of someone to relate to and joke around with about our “problem.” Nonetheless, being extra sweaty has still bothered me almost every day of my life and only became worse as I hit puberty. And it always seems like my mom and sister are so much more cool about theirs.
Hyperhidrosis and Clothing
Because of my hyperhidrosis (Hh), I have always had to worry about what I wear, including:
- whether I can wipe my hands on my pants to dry them
- what clothes will hide my body sweat
- what shoes to wear (rarely sandals!) to hide my feet.
Because I have always been embarrassed by my Hh, most of my friends are probably still unaware that I suffer from it.
Hyperhidrosis and Relationships
I am grateful for the people who have asked me about it in a compassionate way and still think of me the same way in spite of it.
A friend in middle school knew I had sweaty hands and that all she had to do was say the word ‘sweaty’ and my palms would start sweating. I hated it!
When my hands started sweating on command, she would laugh and laugh. I have always tried to avoid high fives, handshakes, and hand-holding, even if my hands are dry because I’m afraid that the next time they will be sweaty. However, sometimes it’s hard to avoid these things without seeming rude or antisocial, and so I would just end up giving someone a sweaty or clammy high-five.
I was raised in a Christian family and went to church camp in the summer. I remember worrying about holding hands while praying, shaking hands when meeting new people [Me, too! Like this time I got downright angry after being asked to hold hands.], and bonding games like the human knot. I took piano and guitar lessons as a kid but always dreaded recitals or performances because that’s when my hands would drip with sweat while I played. When playing the piano, I worried about leaving sweat on the keys. At least with my guitar, no one else had to play it. I always kept sweat rags in my guitar case for that purpose.
Trying Treatments for Hyperhidrosis
I never had a doctor diagnose me with hyperhidrosis, but I found the name of the condition on my own and only realized it was a thing just a few years ago. Since my mom and sister also have it, I just always thought of it as an unlucky genetic thing I had to deal with, not as an actual condition.
I remember seeing my pediatrician as a teenager and mentioning my sweaty hands and feet. When he asked me if I sweated anywhere else, I was too embarrassed to tell him that I did. He prescribed Drysol, and I remember trying it a bit but without much success. Years later, I tried it again and found that if I was consistent it helped a little, but sleeping with a pair of socks on my hands and feet every night is really annoying.
I have also had very dry skin and eczema on the back of my hands, particularly in the winter, because I wash my hands so much and I’m afraid to put on lotion as it can trigger my sweating.
Most recently I went to a dermatologist and when I mentioned the word hyperhidrosis, she suggested trying a low dose of glycopyrrolate, which is supposed to reduce “bodily secretions.” As far as I understand, the drug is most often prescribed for people who drool excessively, but can also work for hyperhidrosis [this is known as an off-label use]. Unfortunately, I haven’t noticed a difference after a month of use. I am interested in trying iontophoresis, though I am worried about compensatory sweating. [Join the club. There are several stories on my blog about compensatory sweating, mine included.]
Hyperhidrosis and Marriage
I am lucky to be married to a wonderful man who once asked me about my sweaty hands when we were dating and since has told me several times that my Hh doesn’t bother him. Though I debated whether I wanted to have kids because I was afraid to pass along the gene, we ultimately decided it was still something we wanted, even with the risk. Now we have a one year old, and I just hope the gene skips her. I still worry about when she grows up and I’ll have to hold her hand crossing the street (or worse, one of her friends’ hands!).
What Others Should Know About What It’s Like to Live With Hyperhidrosis
I think the most important thing for me to tell other people is that I can’t help it, though I do admit that anxiety and thinking about sweating can make it worse.
I can sweat when I’m cold or when I’m hot. I’m sweating right now as I type this, thinking about how crazy I am for putting myself out there! However, I am so grateful to have found Maria and her My Life as a Puddle blog and to find there are so many other people out there with hyperhidrosis who are willing to put themselves out there. I admire all of you!
I hope that I can become braver as I continue to share my story and be more open about my Hh. I think even just being aware that I’m not alone has made me feel more at peace with my condition.
I’m hoping to try Carpe Lotion next as I learned about it from Maria’s blog. I hope in sharing my story others with hyperhidrosis will become more comfortable to share theirs. Thanks Maria for getting this started! [The pleasure is all mine, Erin. Thank you for using your sweaty voice.]
Do you have a sweaty story?
I’m opening up 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.