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The State of Sweat in the Netherlands

My name is Thijs. I am the founder of The Dutch Hyperhidrosis Society and I’m excited to share my thoughts and a Dutch perspective on hyperhidrosis with you.

I know from personal experience how excessive sweating can disrupt your life and what it’s like to search for answers – and not find them. That’s why I started the patient forum www.overmatigzweten.nl, which has seen an overwhelming amount of activity from all over Europe (more than 1.6 million hits a month). What a relief for me to realize I was not alone! Many, many others were suffering and searching – like me – and they still are.

Hyperhidrosis, although quite common, remains a taboo subject in the Netherlands. It’s estimated that 1- 2% of the Dutch population has the condition. This is a slightly lower percentage than reported elsewhere, but still a huge problem. As in other countries, people with hyperhidrosis in the Netherlands tend to be ashamed. They don’t talk about it and it can be very difficult to get information about hyperhidrosis on the Internet or even from doctors.

Since starting our Dutch hyperhidrosis forum, I’ve been really fortunate, my underarm hyperhidrosis has been permanently treated but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about the condition or all the people still suffering with it. To help, I continue to try and improve the support and information available to people with hyperhidrosis in Europe and around the world. It’s been an amazing journey – so much has changed.

When I was a young adult and I first started looking into hyperhidrosis treatments, there really seemed to be no safe and effective treatments options. In the 1990s, however, Botox started to be used to treat excessive sweating of the underarms, hands, and feet – this came to me as a salvation. Later, local surgical techniques like curettage and suction become more refined and with the help of lasers they became an even more effective option. This is how I was successfully treated for my excessive sweating.

While it’s an extreme option, the surgical technique of sympathectomy has, I believe, became more refined as well -- leading to decreased operative risk and reduced risk of compensatory sweating. In fact, in Holland, sympathectomy is today’s standard treatment of palmar sweating. Increasingly, oral medications are also being used, such as oxybutinine and glycopyrronium, but they are not common.

In 2014, miraDry was introduced in Holland and this led to some renewed public interest in excessive sweating. Since then there has been more focus on hyperhidrosis in the media and a Dutch book on hyperhidrosis was published in 2015.

Sadly, many physicians here (especially general practitioners) remain unaware of hyperhidrosis’ psychological burden and of all the current treatment strategies. So, there still is more work to be done.

Thank you to the International Hyperhidrosis Society for your valuable work to improve knowledge and understanding of hyperhidrosis among patients and healthcare professionals. It’s been a privilege to share with you this dispatch on the state of hyperhidrosis care in the Netherlands.

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