Sweat-Savvy Tips for Students & Families
As the summer holidays in the U.S. wind down, students from kindergarten to college are gearing up to head back to school. For many, unfortunately, coursework isn’t the only challenge ahead -- they’ve got to manage excessive sweating, as well. Hyperhidrosis issues at school are relatively common, in fact, based on prevalence data we presented to the American Academy of Dermatology, ~2.5 million or 17% of all high school students experience excessive sweating.
With the right help, though, dramatic progress can be made. According to Dr. David Pariser (a co-founder of the International Hyperhidrosis Society and winner of the American Academy of Dermatology's highest honor), while hyperhidrosis is the #1 dermatological disease in terms of negatively affecting a person's quality of life, it’s also #1 in having the most dramatically positive impact when treated. “When hyperhidrosis is caught early,” says Dr. Pariser, “the life of a young person can be literally changed."
In honor of kickstarting that change and helping students who struggle with excessive sweating to better manage their symptoms and their syllabi, we’ve got useful tips, tricks and tools for you. From block time to coding, sweating doesn’t need to get in the way...
Ask for Accommodations
If a student has to take the time to wipe his or her hands or brow during tests, he or she may need extra time to complete assessments. Talk to teachers and administrators about ways to remove obstacles to success. Perhaps typed work instead of handwritten work is acceptable? Or a painting in lieu of a drawing? Videos to replace in-front-of-the-class oral presentations? Think out of the box.
Previous generations of hyperhidrosis sufferers often suffered in silence and felt held back; you can speak up, speak candidly and help break the cycle.
Take School Supplies to the Next Level
Students these days need a range of tools to succeed. Depending on the age of the student, the right school supplies can help make extreme sweating less distracting, embarrassing, and physically damaging to assignments, technology, and gear. Here are some ideas:
- Choose thicker paper products and darker pencils. These help keep writing in its place. Try banana leaf paper and #1 pencils.
- Add pencil grippers to your cart - the foam absorbs sweat and keeps pencils from slipping through slick fingers.
- Look for erasers that are in “click sticks” so they stay dry and functional.
- Recognize that permanent markers and pens are less likely to smear.
- Keep it cool with pocket and handheld fans.
- Wipe smart with small, absorbent towels that fit discreetly in pockets. Waffle weaves tend to be most effective.
- Laminate whenever possible or choose plastic notebook covers, book covers and folders so they won’t get soggy in the hands.
- Put the best foot forward. A home shoe-dryer will speedily dry shoes so they are ready for the next day These are often marketed to hunters and skiers but they are great for plantar hyperhidrosis sufferers, too. Or consider buying multiple pairs of the same shoes so they can be rotated every other day.
- Be tech smart. Look for waterproof keyboard protectors, screen protectors, and stylus “pens” to use on touchscreens.
- Make gloves hip again. Cotton gloves can help manage sweaty hands during certain tasks (pack extras). There are also non-slip finger sleeves for touch screens. We’ve even seen half-gloves that help prevent papers from getting smeared.
- Use your head. Helmet and hat liners can absorb sweat day-to-day or during sports and cycling.
- Consider fashion function. Clothing and color choices can make a difference. Light, flowing layers, darker colors, and large prints all help to hide sweat marks. Cotton or linen boost breathability. Moisture-wicking, hi-tech sportswear can be a good choice, but these fabrics don’t absorb well and sweat can “run” or “drip.” If hi-tech fabrics are a requirement, consider absorbing underlayers such as those from Ejis, NanoDri, and Thompson Tee. All three companies offer discounts through our Fan Faves.
- See double. Multiples of uniforms and favorite items can be helpful for quick changes during the day.
- Upgrade laundry detergent. Hi-tech fabrics can get smelly -- choose a special laundry detergent designed for athletic clothing if this is an issue in your house.
There are many more products out there to help young people manage the day-to-day hassles of living with excessive sweating. From strong, versatile antiperspirants to iontophoresis devices and shoe inserts, you can find many useful items at discounted prices on our Fan Faves page.
After the Pencils and Paper, Remember the Big Picture
Of course, while the right supplies can be a huge help, they don’t solve a sweating problem. Hyperhidrosis is, after all, a medical condition. So, after the appropriate pencils, papers and book covers are purchased, we hope you’ll remember to tackle the big stuff, too.
- Make time to discuss sweating. It might feel weird or embarrassing, but excessive sweating is something that needs to be talked about in order to be managed. Listening to our podcasts can help get conversations started.
- Recognize the signs. Sometimes they are obvious. Wet footprints across the floor from plantar hyperhidrosis… Smeared homework and clammy hand-holding with palmar hyperhidrosis… Drenched clothing from axillary hyperhidrosis... But other times hyperhidrosis symptoms can be hidden. Bulky clothing and dark colors can disguise sweat marks. Staying home avoids embarrassment. Giving up on activities that involve close contact with others (like sports) prevents being “found out.” Learn more about how excessive sweating is diagnosed here.
- Find a knowledgeable physician and explore all the options. There are ways to treat excessive sweating in young people. A pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist can help. Use our Physician Finder to locate a hyperhidrosis-savvy healthcare provider. Explore all the current treatment options on our website and, remember, combinations of treatments are a great option, too. (For more tips on how to find hyperhidrosis care, check out this blog.)
The young people living with excessive sweating today don’t need to struggle alone as many did in the past. Huge thanks to all the parents, teachers, coaches, school nurses, and pediatric as well as adolescent healthcare providers out there making a difference.
Want to do more? Tell your school nurses and other healthcare providers for youth about all of the useful information available on SweatHelp.org. The International Hyperhidrosis Society provides reliable, practical information about hyperhidrosis, its ramifications in school and out, current treatment options, and quick links to the latest hyperhidrosis research published in medical journals.
Fist bump to the next school bus we see: 76 million young people are about to head back into the classroom and we couldn’t be more inspired. Their future is our future and we’re rooting for them.