I sweat profusely when I eat spicy food. Anything I can do?

Find out the steps you can take to help solve the underlying problem.

An increased tendency to sweat, also known as hyperhidrosis, is a common problem faced by young people. The vast majority of people who experience this do not have any recognisable underlying condition.

For some people, there may be a problem with hyperactivity of the thyroid glands (these are endocrine glands situated in the front of the neck). If you suspect you have a thyroid problem, a blood test will be able to confirm the diagnosis – and appropriate medical or surgical treatment will also reduce the sweating.

If your hyperhidrosis is not a result of underlying medical reasons, you should seek the help of a dermatologist. If your sweating is mild to moderate, and confined to the palms, regular application of antiperspirants containing aluminium salts can provide relief. Such perspirants are available in pharmacies.

If they do not work, the next step is usually iontophoresis: This procedure involves the application of a very low electrical current to the palms, which are placed in a basin of electrolytes. It usually gives relief from sweating for anything from a few days to a few weeks.

A newer, more effective treatment is the injection of diluted botulinum toxin (Botox) into the skin of the palms of the hands. This procedure is costly and can be painful. It is also not permanent.

Surgical therapy would involve cutting specific autonomic nerves in the neck. These nerves are responsible for the control of sweating in the palms. This procedure is performed by neurosurgeons and can offer permanent relief.

Increased sweating in the armpits can be treated in similar ways. There is also the possibility of excising the armpit’s sweat gland-bearing skin. Increased sweating elsewhere is not as easily managed. Consult your dermatologist for your options.

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