I’ve been feeling compelled to write about this subject for a long time. It’s a topic that I am deeply passionate about, but I’ve found that it never really gets discussed publicly because this affliction is something that everyone is super embarrassed by… including myself. Today, I’m going to set aside my pride and talk to you about it anyway:
I suffer from palmoplantar hyperhidrosis.
(read: excessive sweating from my hands and feet)
While it’s hardly a life-threatening disease, this ailment has caused me SO MUCH grief and embarrassment over my lifetime! If you or someone that you know struggles with excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), please keep reading — this could change your (or someone else’s) life!
(yes, those are beads of sweat collecting on my hands and dripping down my arms)
A little backstory on my Sweat Journey
(maybe you can relate?)
My earliest memory of struggling with hyperhidrosis was in the 3rd grade. At my school all 3rd graders were required to complete a special project that we worked on as a class throughout the entire school year (imagine the elementary school version of a thesis paper) and back then we didn’t have computers to use for typing up reports so I had to hand-write everything. As a part of this project we were graded on our penmanship… I remember being SO anxious about having to use an ink pen (no pencils allowed) and messing up on my cursive! I had to keep wiping my hands on my lap because I had droplets of sweat that would form on my pen and drip down onto the paper. Since I am right-handed, my hand would also slide over the paper as I was writing and by the time I had gotten to the bottom of the sheet, the paper would be completely soaked and warped. Additionally, the side of my hand that had been resting on the paper as I wrote would have smeared ink stains all over it. Fast forward to my teen years when I started dating… imagine how nervous I was to hold a boy’s hand, only to have him recoil when he felt my sopping wet palm!
I can’t tell you how many times I have slipped in my own shoes and almost fallen down or twisted my ankle just from walking in the sweat pooling beneath my feet. I have completely ruined so many pairs of my shoes, which is the major reason why I have never invested in any that are super high-quality; it would be such a waste of money! To this day, I still do anything that I can to avoid shaking hands with people — even in interviews. Occasionally, circumstances will arise where I have to deal with prolonged periods of excess sweating, which end up causing the skin on my hands and feet to swell so much that I can’t even wear my rings or squeeze my feet into closed-toe shoes. I want to be clear that I am fully aware that this ailment is far from some kind of debilitating disease, but it has certainly been a massive detriment to simple activities in my daily life.
My hyperhidrosis is always triggered by either temperature or stress / anxiety (you know, when normal people tend to sweat…), but my system goes into overdrive. It’s almost as though my body’s internal thermostat & stress regulator are broken and they just don’t know when to “turn off.” I don’t know if you can tell the difference in my hand in the photos below, but my skin is so swollen from being waterlogged in the photo on the left that I couldn’t even get my wedding/engagement rings on that day. I tried to capture the exact same angle on a different day when my hands were back to normal in order to give you an idea of how they’re supposed to look. (if the pic on the left weren’t such a painful situation, I’d laugh because my fingers look like little Vienna sausages! lol)
Over the years, I have talked to many doctors and dermatologists… their list of resolutions was always the same: Botox injections, surgery to cut the sweat glands, electroconvulsive therapy (also known as “iontophoresis”), and other topical medications that were incredibly uncomfortable and inconvenient to apply (looking at you, Drysol…). None of these options were viable for me so I had given up hope that I would ever be able to sustain a normal level of sweat to live a comfortable life. Come to find out, my family dermatologist in Florida had seen enough patients with the same excessive sweating situation (but in varying parts of their bodies) that he felt it would be worthwhile to research an effective solution for all of us. What he discovered was a medication called Ditropan (or generically: “oxybutynin”). A main side effect of this drug causes reduction of sweat and it has really been beneficial to me over the past ~7 years (thank you again from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Sultenfuss!!).
** I want to take this opportunity to say that it is unhealthy
to stop sweating completely so while I still sweat, the amount is
SO MUCH LESS than before I started taking oxybutynin.
Please discuss with your doctor if you are interested in taking this medication.**
Now that my husband and I are married, we’ve been having more serious discussions around family planning and I know that women have to be really conscious of what they eat and what medications that they take in order to have healthy pregnancies. I brought this up with my primary care physician at my most recent physical and she explained that while oxybutynin is not considered to be a high risk medication, it is strongly recommended to stop taking it while pregnant and nursing (the FDA considers it to be a “Category B” drug, if you’re curious). I was absolutely devastated to hear that my excessive sweating issues would return in conjunction with the arrival of [future] pregnancy discomforts (morning sickness, back/hip pain, etc). I was starting to dread an experience that I have been looking forward to my whole life!
Enter: Carpe Lotion
You guys, you can’t see me as I’m typing this, but I get teary-eyed every time I think about the blessing that this product has been in my life. I want to share Carpe Lotion with you because it has been a COMPLETE game-changer for me. About a year ago, my mom saw a late-night tv commercial for this product and called me immediately to tell me about it. I couldn’t type the information into my Google search fast enough! When the results populated, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Not only was Carpe Lotion totally affordable, it wasn’t a medication that required a prescription from a doctor! Another thing that I noticed right away was that the website specifically cited the ailment by its medical term (which reassured me that they weren’t just trying to hawk some bogus product). haha Carpe was offering lotions for both hands and feet (also using their corresponding medical terms “palmar” and “plantar”!!). It seemed as though Carpe had been created just for me. I read through their list of testimonials written by individuals that had been living with very similar experiences to mine and these people were seeing amazing success as a result of using Carpe products. I can’t even begin tell you what a comfort it was to know that there were other people in the world suffering from the same ailment (not that I’m happy that other people are suffering too, but to know that I’m not alone) and that these products were actually helping them! I was, of course, skeptical in the beginning because honestly, this solution sounded way too good to be true.
When I received my initial shipment I put the products on right away as the instructions described. The lotion has a very light eucalyptus scent when it comes out of the tube, but once it dries there is no trace of fragrance. I will say that the barrier that the lotion creates on your hands and feet is mildly detectable, but just barely and absolutely not uncomfortable (again, looking at you, Drysol). It’s more like… a light and dry protective barrier? After using the product consistently (and following the proper instructions) for four weeks, I can honestly say that Carpe Lotion has curbed my excessive perspiration and has absolutely made a significant difference. It’s crucial to use Carpe products repeatedly and consistently or else they won’t be able to provide optimal results, so be sure to incorporate the product(s) into your daily routine!
I was so impressed by this lotion, but then began to worry that it was too good to be true. I was certain that this potent lotion that was doing so much to curb my sweatiness wasn’t going to be mild enough to use during [future] pregnancy. I sent tubes of Carpe to both my local primary care physician and my previous dermatologist in Florida (since he knows my medical history) to see whether or not it would be safe for me to use while pregnant. To my complete surprise, they BOTH replied with their stamps of approval!
This is not a sponsored post, I just genuinely want to get the word out into the world that THERE IS A SOLUTION! And not only just a solution, but an affordable, accessible, non-invasive solution that is surprisingly effective! (Full disclosure: Carpe has previously gifted me a few samples for testing/feedback purposes).
For those of you who deal with excess sweat in places other than your hands and feet, Carpe has developed solutions for: armpit, groin, breast, and face, as well as an all-over wipe (with more items in development!). I can’t speak to most of these other products because I haven’t tried them yet, but if/when I do I’ll be sure to update this post. If you’re too impatient to order online, you can find Carpe products in-store at: Target, Wal-Mart, and CVS. They’re also available on Amazon.com (so if you’re a Prime Member you can get that free 2-day shipping!)
Some Other Tricks and Products I Have
Discovered in My Sweat Journey
– I almost always have a small washcloth with me in my purse to help dry my hands in times of extreme sweating… I always get weirdly anxious before doctor and dentist appointments(?) so this comes in super handy for those kinds of situations.
– I love wearing shoes by (1) Native because they’re made of rubber and there are no insoles to ruin (buy your normal size because they run a tiny bit big and will allow for some swelling), and (2) Rothy’s because they’re made of recycled materials and are machine-washable! (fit TTS, but if your feet swell like mine do after extended sweating sessions, I recommend going up a half size).
– Speaking of washable shoes, I have found two more brands to shop! First being Birdie’s who are famous for their shoes that feel like slippers, but look like regular shoes — they recently launched a washable shoe which, of course, I applaud! Second is a brand named Vivaia which is new-to-me (and honestly seems like a wannabe Rothy’s), but I totally welcome any brand making sustainable, washable shoes! Not all of their styles are for me, but I do really like the fact that they offer heels and slingback options! I can’t speak to the quality of either of these shoes as I don’t own any of them, but thought they were worth mentioning!
– I have seen companies creating undergarments for people who have excessive armpit / torso sweat (such as Thompson Tee, Knix, and Numi); I can’t speak to their effectiveness, but I’m glad to hear that there are solutions to try; they certainly sound promising!
– Have you seen ads for the Embr Wave bracelet? It looks like a smartwatch, but supposedly helps to regulate your body’s temperature by either warming or cooling your wrist? I’m super intrigued by it, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. I may test the theory first by wrapping a cold washcloth or something on my wrist just to see if the concept works before investing in the device. Have you tried the Embr yet?
– If you struggle with head sweat, Melin Hydro waterproof hats look really great for helping to manage that during outdoor activities!
– This blanket company has created a product that is made from eucalyptus and naturally regulates temperature so that you don’t get sweaty throughout the night! I haven’t tried it, but it sounds awesome!
– I am going to be trying CBD oil soon (my shipment is on its way) to see if it can lower my anxiety levels, thus causing me to be less sweaty from stress. I will report back with my findings in a dedicated blog post (with a small update here). *EDIT* The CBD oil has definitely helped to lower my stress levels, so I have only had temperature-related sweat to manage lately which is great! You can read my full CBD oil review here.
I wrote a Hyperhidrosis Summer Survival Guide that shares all of my tips and tricks to help you find some relief during the summer months as well as a post sharing how I managed my Hyperhidrosis during Pregnancy!
Do you suffer from excessive sweating? I would love to hear about your experiences and how you have managed your sweat in the comments below.
Sending [sweaty] hugs!