Breaking News: Delays in Hyperhidrosis Care & (Dis)Satisfaction with Common Treatments
NEW research from International Hyperhidrosis Society leaders and published in the latest issue of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology is an urgent call to increase awareness of hyperhidrosis, reduce related stigma, and improve access to effective, patient-focused treatments.
“My patients have been telling me for years that we need better and more treatments for hyperhidrosis and our just-released study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology confirms that novel options are needed – now - and that we must do an even better job raising awareness of hyperhidrosis and how to manage it,”
says study co-author and International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHhS) Founder and President Dr. Dee Anna Glaser of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
The research (“Understanding Patient Experience with Hyperhidrosis: A National Survey in 1,985 Patients” by Dr. Glaser as well as IHhS’ Dr. Adelaide Hebert, Lisa J. Pieretti, and Dr. David Pariser) shows that nearly half of hyperhidrosis sufferers (48.9%) wait more than TEN years before seeking medical help and 85% wait at least three years! The data is based on analysis of an online survey querying International Hyperhidrosis Society subscribers who self-identified as having excessive sweating. As part of the survey, researchers asked about the hyperhidrosis patient experience, family history of excessive sweating, interactions with physicians, sweating’s impact on daily activities, and treatment satisfaction. Exposing a disconnect between frequently-prescribed treatments and actual patient satisfaction, survey participants indicated they were most satisfied with injections (like Botox®) for their excessive sweating and least satisfied with antiperspirants. Yet, antiperspirants are among the most commonly-prescribed treatments for excessive sweating and injections can be very difficult for patients to access. Among respondents who had not received any hyperhidrosis treatment, 38.5% were not sure why not, 32% reported they couldn’t afford their recommended treatment, and 23.1% did not like their recommended treatment.
“Based on these results, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” says Dr. David Pariser, IHhS Co-founder, former president of the American Academy of Dermatology, and article co-author. “Nearly a quarter of our patients don’t like the options being recommended to them and while patients indicate they are most satisfied with botulinum toxin injections, these are not often offered. Meanwhile, antiperspirants tend to be the most frequently prescribed treatments, but patient satisfaction with them is low. Combine this with ten years of delay and we see how much work still needs to be done in terms of education and meeting hyperhidrosis patients’ needs.”
Additional findings from the research include:
- More than 18% of survey respondents report an immediate family member also suffering from excessive sweating.
- Daily activity, clothing choice, and work/career are the life areas most impacted by excessive sweating.
- Most common body areas affected by hyperhidrosis are underarms (67.7%), hands (64.6%), and feet (64.4%); in each case, the majority of participants noticed symptoms before the age of 18 years.
- Survey respondents say they use (or have used) the following treatments: prescription antiperspirants (78.0%), over-the-counter antiperspirants (77.7%), oral medications (53.3%), injections (eg, botulinum toxin/Botox®) (41.0%), and iontophoresis (38.1%).
So, where do we go from here? Co-author and IHhS Co-founder Dr. Adelaide Hebert, a pediatric dermatologist with the University of Texas, says,
“We need to continue our efforts, in earnest, to legitimize hyperhidrosis as a medical condition, rather than a cosmetic one, so that treatment can be more accessible and the delay in seeking medical care can be reduced. Combating delay in treatment is of particular importance given the established association between hyperhidrosis and mental health concerns, particularly social anxiety and depression.”
Lisa J. Pieretti, Executive Director of IHhS and also an author on this paper says,
“This research is the voice of hyperhidrosis patients and a powerful reckoning for medical professionals to reevaluate if their practices are hyperhidrosis-friendly and if sufferers feel like they can ask for help—and receive it. Writing a prescription for an antiperspirant and then thinking that the patient has been satisfied because they never come back is a blind spot that needs to be exposed. Any healthcare provider wishing to stay up-to-date on hyperhidrosis diagnosis and treatment can reach out to us and use the healthcare provider section of our website as a roadmap. Together, we can bring about change.”
The International Hyperhidrosis Society thanks all of YOU for responding to this research request with enthusiasm, speed, and candor. Your willingness to share your hyperhidrosis journey helps to make this sort of research possible and impactful. Indeed, to make progress in how the medical world perceives and addresses excessive sweating we must have valid scientific research, like this study. Keep up the good fight!
Not satisfied with your hyperhidrosis care? Use your voice and #AskAgain. Keep demanding to be heard. Add this new medical journal article to your arsenal. If necessary, use our Physician Finder to find a different provider, particularly one who has attended (or taught at) an International Hyperhidrosis Society continuing medical education event. Great care is out there. But, as this study shows, it can be hard to find. Working together, we will change that. Thanks for reading and for being part of this battle.