When Virginia’s son, Lloyd, started sweating profusely with no apparent cause, his mother thought it was because he was healthy as he normally fed well and was also very playful. But when Lloyd turned nine, the sweating increased and he would sweat even before taking a bath on a cold day. This alarmed Virginia and she consulted a doctor.
The doctor asked several questions, ran some tests and carried out observations before telling Virginia that her son had a condition known as hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis presents as frequent and excessive abnormal sweating linked to over activity in the nervous system. Perfectly healthy children usually sweat in the palms, armpits, forehead and other areas. However, those with hyperhidrosis have persistent sweat problems as they often sweat without engaging in vigorous exercise and even when it is cold. In most cases the condition is characterised by sweating more than five times that of a normal healthy person.
CAUSES OF HYPERHIDROSIS
Genetic disorder. Hyperhidrosis is hereditary. If your child has a lineage with the condition, there is a high likelihood that they may have it. The International Hyperhidrosis Society lists other triggers of hyperhidrosis as including spicy foods, sugary snacks and caffeine. Keep a close eye on your child to identify and isolate the condition’s trigger. Obesity. If your child has excess body fat, they may sweat more than normal size children. You can encourage your child to engage in physical exercise to cut down weight. Instead of allowing your child to sit and watch television for long hours, encourage him to be active; he can help you out in your chores or play outside. Sitting idly for long hours while snacking on sugary foods may also cause obesity. Physical exercise has been known to lessen hyperhidrosis considerably. Anxiety. This refers to a feeling of apprehension and fear without a clear associated reason. Anxiety triggers hyperhidrosis in children. Talk to your children and encourage them to open up to you. You can comfort them to reduce incidences of anxiety attacks. Give your children an open channel where they can discuss issues with you.
TREATMENT OF HYPERHIDROSIS
Take your child to the doctor if sweating is persistent as this could mean a more serious underlying problem. The doctor will, in most cases, run tests and then prescribe medication based on the results. One of the prescriptions may be a strong antiperspirant to reduce the sweating. This is normally given to children over 14 years and can be applied under the arms, palms, feet and scalp. Anti-anxiety drugs can also be administered depending on the doctor’s findings, but these have side effects like sedation, blurred vision and decreased mental activity. Caution must therefore be exercised when using such medication.
Certain mental techniques that produce change at the subconscious level have been said to help control hyperhidrosis. Surgical treatment can also be administered on children over 14 years, as the recurrent rate in younger children is apparently high.
Because their palms lack grip as a result of the sweat, friends or schoolmates may make fun of children with hyperhidrosis when playing, as they may be considered weak, which may bring down their self-esteem and alienate them. Teens on the other hand, usually become fashion conscious and are likely to feel constrained in the black and light colours they are advised to wear, as other colours show sweat patches. Being left out of trends may negatively affect their self-esteem.
As a parent or caregiver, encourage open communication with your children; informing them that hyperhidrosis is not a big deal because it’s not life threatening although it’s embarrassing. You must inform your child that it’s not their fault to have the condition. On a brighter and lighter note, tell them that hyperhidrosis is a natural moisturiser which leaves one’s skin soft, cool and always moisturised.