Dr. Milo was interviewed for an article on excessive sweating, which featured in this month’s Woman magazine.
Why we sweat
We all sweat – it’s a fact of life, but 70 per cent of us worry about it. Sweating is the body’s cooling mechanism and is essential to everyday life. Across the skin are some 2-5 million eccrine sweat glands, which produce thin, salty sweat. This sweat doesn’t smell. But in hairier parts, such as the armpits, there are apocrine sweat glands, which release stronger sweat. This contains fatty acids and other substances that bacteria like to feed on – and it’s these microbes, not the sweat itself, that makes people smelly if they don’t wash regularly. Everyone has a different threshold for acceptable perspiration. Some are embarrassed at the faintest ‘glow’, while others soldier on with shirts and socks that are wringing wet.
Mask or reduce?
The eccrine glands respond to heat, producing a salt solution (sweat) that’s designed to cool us down as it evaporates. The second type of sweat, coming from the apocrine glands, is the culprit when we’re under stress, producing an oilier fluid that smells when it breaks down. That’s why most of us need something to help us get through the day odour-free. Deodorants attack the bacteria that breaks down the sweat and makes it smell, masking it with an added fragrance, while anti-perspirants reduce the amount of sweat as well as deodorise.
Excessive sweating is called hyperhydrosis and it can leave the sufferer feeling damp and self-conscious. At the Harley Medical Group, doctors use Botox to treat hyperhidrosis, blocking the nerves that supply the eccrine glands and preventing secretion. On average, between 15 and 20 injections are given to each armpit. The treatment takes from two to seven days to become effective and lasts six to 12 months. The Harley Medical Group sees excellent results and in many cases a 100 per cent improvement.
Woman magazine, July 2007