As you know, this month we’re working with the International Hyperhidrosis Society to promote Hyperhidrosis Awareness Month! CEO Alli interviewed My Life as a Puddle founder Maria Thomas.

1) When did you first realize that your sweating was excessive?

When I was in second grade and learning to write in cursive (back when that was still a thing), the edges of my paper would curl up from my hands sweating all over it. But it wasn’t until I was in sixth grade that I finally asked my mom why my hands and feet were so sweaty. I found myself avoiding certain activities like joining the school band because I was petrified my sweaty secret would be discovered if I ruined an instrument thanks to my drippy hands.

2) What steps did you take to get diagnosed and which type of doctor did you see (internist, PA, dermatologist?)

My mom took me to our family physician who prescribed a prescription strength antiperspirant. He told me to apply it at night and cover my hands and feet in plastic wrap to help the product absorb. Not very practical for a 12 year old!

After that I just dealt with it and developed some pretty inventive coping techniques. During my sophomore year of college, I started Googling “excessive sweating.” I didn’t realize it was a recognized medical term called hyperhidrosis.

I then went back to my primary care physician and educated him myself about hyperhidrosis. Armed with the latest treatment options thanks to the information I found on the International Hyperhidrosis Society’s website, I told him the oral medications I wanted to try. Sadly, none of them worked for me.

Once I saw a dermatologist, I was prescribed scopolamine patches as an off-label use for a short term trigger situation I would be in – a bridesmaid in a wedding where I’d have to wear slippery heels and a satin dress. The patch worked wonders and made me so dry! It’s not recommended for long-term use however, so my dry life was short-lived.

3) What is the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about living with HhS (daily life interference’s, relationships (I know you’re married now:), technology issues)?

Hyperhidrosis affects everything! From the clothes and shoes I wear to the events I choose to participate in (or not).

I worry about dropping my friends’ babies and getting them soaking wet when I’m holding them.

I can’t carry colored file folders at work – I did once and the blue ink smeared all over my hands so it looked like I had Smurfed myself! I hate wearing dress clothes because they don’t soak up my sweat as well as say a pair of jeans would.

When I do Facebook Live at my job and have to hold the phone myself, the sweat literally drips down my palms all the way to my elbows and onto the ground. It’s terribly frustrating and embarrassing.

Thankfully, though, the people closest to me understand my hyperhidrosis and do what they can to help me deal with it.

4) Did you/do you ever suffer from night sweats? Do you think there’s a hormonal link along with the HhS diagnosis?

I do have night sweats sometimes in the summer when it’s hotter. I was very sick a couple years ago with ulcerative colitis, and the sweating (unrelated to my UC) was so bad I would wake up with my tank top absolutely drenched.

I’ve heard hyperhidrosis can be caused by an overactive sympathetic nervous system, and that system is linked to the fight or flight response. Based on blood work I’ve had, I do know my adrenal glands are depleted. I’d love to see more clinical studies performed regarding hyperhidrosis and hormones and how the two play together.

5) What are a few tips that you can share with fellow sufferers? (No lotion, keep a cloth in your pocket, ?)

Do your research! Don’t assume the first page of a Google search will get you the info you need. Many medical practices have huge marketing budgets, so they can spend more to get their products and services at the top. ETS surgery is highly touted as a treatment option for hyperhidrosis, and while it can be a good treatment it may not work for everyone. The side effects can be devastating, so make sure you look at all treatment options and not the paid search results you might see first that advertising this procedure.

My 4-inch mini desk fan is my best friend. I have one at my desk at home and at my office. I turn it on at least 20 times a day to help me stay dry.

I’ve had good results with Carpe Lotion for sweaty hands and feet. It’s over the counter and available online here http://bit.ly/2KOwOvt

Most importantly, please know you are NOT alone in your struggles with hyperhidrosis. My stories are your stories. I invite you to visit my blog at mylifeasapuddle.com and to use your own sweaty voice to speak up about a condition that is under-recognized and under-treated. There is nothing to be ashamed of!

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