The 32-year-old candidly showed her fans what happens after spending a day talking to the press on Zoom from the comfort of her own home: a whole lot of armpit sweat. In fact, Decker (who recently released a cookbook) posed for the image complete with what appears to be toilet paper (or maybe napkins?) wadded up against her underarms. While it makes for a pretty funny post, the fact is that excessive perspiration is a problem encountered by many people, and maybe it’s time someone drew attention to it.
Excessive sweating has a technical name: hyperhidrosis
Excessive sweating is also known as hyperhidrosis and affects about 4.8 percent of the U.S. population. The condition can be spread throughout your body, or it may be localized in certain areas. Some common areas in which to experience excess sweat include the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet, your face, and as in Decker’s case, your armpits.
While everyone sweats to a certain extent (especially after exercise, when it’s particularly hot out, or even when you’re nervous), if it goes beyond that, then you’re dealing with at least primary hyperhidrosis. That means that you can be sitting on the couch watching television and feel sweat collecting on your forehead or suddenly see your palms dripping when you’re simply driving home from work with the air conditioning on.
Hyperhidrosis may indicate an underlying condition
Secondary hyperhidrosis, however, means there’s actually an underlying condition that’s causing your body to produce more sweat than is needed to simply cool down the body. While Decker didn’t share more details about why she may be sweating so much (from the post, it sounds like she’s still unsure), these are some of the conditions that can be associated with an overproduction of sweat: glucose control disorders, lung disease, stroke, menopause, tuberculosis, Parkinson's disease and hormone-related conditions like an overactive thyroid, pheochromocytoma (a tumor on the adrenal gland tumor) and acromegaly. It can also point to cancer, as well as carcinoid syndrome (when a tumor releases chemicals into the bloodstream). But sometimes it’s simply due to an anxiety disorder or due to the use of certain medications, as well as to substance abuse.
Doctors know best
If, like Decker, you’re bothered by your body’s excess sweat, it’s likely time to go and see a doctor. A physician may request a number of tests, including a starch iodine test (which turns sweat brown in order to more easily track just how much you’re sweating and whether any of it is beyond the usual), as well as use of a vapometer, which measures how much water is lost via your feet, scalp, hands, and armpits. Blood work and imaging tests might also be ordered if hormone issues or tumors are suspected.
Don’t sweat — there are treatments available!
The good news for folks like Decker is that once the root cause is determined, there are a number of ways to try and alleviate symptoms. For excess underarm sweat (as in Decker’s case), a stronger prescription antiperspirant may just do the trick. There are also prescription creams to try, as well as nerve-blocking medications that may reduce sweat, and botulinum toxin injections (such as Botox) which can serve as temporary nerve blocks. In more severe cases, individuals may consider surgical remedies such as sweat gland removal (for underarms), and nerve surgery (for extremely sweaty hands and a few other areas).
If you’re not ready to make such a drastic commitment, lifestyle changes like wearing shoes, socks, and clothing made of natural materials like cotton, leather, silk, and wool; as well as daily bathing, using astringents on sweaty areas, and relaxation techniques (if your sweating is anxiety-related) may all be helpful. But if you’re in a pinch, Decker’s napkins under the pits technique might at least help get you by.
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