Hyperhidrosis in the Healthcare Sector
Hyperhidrosis comes with its own unique set of challenges, including social, emotional, physical, and occupational challenges. Hyperhidrosis sufferers often get diagnosed with the condition early on in life, with many during adolescence. This coincides with the time that many are starting to think about what field they want to work in and what career path to take. While excessive sweating does not pose a direct threat to a person’s health, it can complicate life in more ways than one and lead to significant distress and emotional turmoil. It often dissuades those affected from pursuing career paths that will require direct contact with others or “hands-on” type work, regardless of their interest in the field.
Those who choose to go into fields of study that will require lots of hands-on work and working with the public in the future are then faced with unique challenges that those around them may simply not understand, and sometimes even criticize. No matter what path hyperhidrosis sufferers take, there’s no avoiding the fact that it will take a toll on their worklife, from the interview process to complicating the completion of daily and otherwise simple tasks.
A 2017 study carried out on 71 hyperhidrosis patients analyzed the impact hyperhidrosis had on the daily life and overall quality of life of those surveyed. Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming majority of participants reported struggles with physical contact, social life, and relationships and intimacy, which they said significantly impacted their quality of life and ability to function ‘normally’, especially in social situations. 63% of respondents said hyperhidrosis interfered with their work and/or school performance and related tasks. Additionally, 1/3 of those surveyed said they chose a career that would accommodate their sweating, having even turned down lucrative job opportunities in favour of ones where their excessive sweating would not be an issue.
Due to the nature of the occupation, one of the groups most affected by hyperhidrosis in the workplace is healthcare professionals. A 2015 study conducted on a group of students noted that medical students with hyperhidrosis reported a significant physical, work, study and social impairment. From struggling to put on gloves because of sweaty hands, to walking around in damp shoes all day because of sweaty feet, or constantly sweating through their scrubs with visible underarm sweat marks, it impacted nearly every aspect of their work. As they work so closely with their patients and coworkers, excessive sweating is impossible to hide and leads to complications of simple tasks and time being wasted trying to manage the effects of their hyperhidrosis.
Excessive hand sweating, also known as palmar hyperhidrosis, can especially complicate the lives of healthcare workers. In addition to being a considerable nuisance, palmar hyperhidrosis is associated with decreased productivity, and an increased risk of certain health issues. Even trying to get on another pair of gloves with sweaty hands becomes almost impossible. These sweaty hands can even become strenuous and uncomfortable to work with, leading to rashes and other skin conditions in many individuals. By hindering hand functionality, sweat can affect a worker’s ability to perform certain job functions, or cause them to change gloves more frequently, which is already a challenging task in itself when your hands are constantly sweaty.
SImilarly, walking around in sweaty shoes, particularly after lengthy shifts almost entirely spent on their feet, can also lead to skin and nail problems, such as athlete’s foot and ingrown toenails. In fact, excessive sweating is one of the leading causes of recurrence of these conditions. Axillary hyperhidrosis, or excessive underarm sweating, can be a cosmetic nuisance but can also be extremely uncomfortable for the wearer to walk around in damp clothes all day. Additionally, a lack of understanding of the condition can subject hyperhidrosis sufferers to embarrassment and criticism from others, especially when the sweating is visible, or leads to pungent body odour (bromhidrosis).
A Medical Assistant’s Hyperhidrosis Story
It is clear to see how excessive sweating can seriously affect healthcare professionals on the job, in the ways listed above and beyond. A quick search of the terms “hyperhidrosis” and “nurse” (or another position within the healthcare field) generates many results of threads started by students or aspiring students who are wondering if they should or can seek a career in this field, as they weigh the effects hyperhidrosis may have on their career.
We recently spoke to Rebecca, a student actively pursuing a career in the medical field, who suffers from palmar and axillary hyperhidrosis. She has not let hyperhidrosis stop her from pursuing her dreams, but did spend a lot of time researching how to manage her hyperhidrosis as she anticipated and faced many struggles related to excessive sweating on the job. Here is what she had to say about how her hyperhidrosis affected her work and studies:
I’ve recently gone back to school in the medical field as a medical assistant, and that brought up a whole new set of challenges. Having sweaty hands in this field is a huge drawback as you constantly have to put latex gloves on and work hands-on with patients. As someone with sweaty hands, it’s a huge barrier, as you can imagine the sticky, moist nightmare that it is to be wearing latex gloves on while your hands won’t stop sweating. Changing your gloves 20 times a day with sweaty hands is a nightmare, while everyone else can get them on in 5 seconds, I would struggle for a minute trying to get them on.
One time in class, our professor asked everyone to take their gloves off to feel each other’s pulses and the person who did mine just exclaimed: “Rebecca, what’s wrong with your hands?!” when she saw how sweaty my hands were.
Thankfully, Rebecca discovered iontophoresis treatment to keep her excessive sweating under control:
Up until I heard about iontophoresis, I was using powder to try and keep my hands dry, but it was very inconvenient as it’s not super effective and you can’t always have powder with you, especially in a medical setting as some patients can be allergic or have asthma.
I discovered iontophoresis through multiple Google searches. I was searching for things like “nurses with sweaty hands” and “doctors with hyperhidrosis” and I came across a report from someone who was studying to become a physician who literally almost quit his studies because of his sweaty hands, I couldn’t believe it.
Since I’m currently a student in the medical field, I understood the science behind it and it didn’t freak me out or anything. It did take some getting used to the feeling of current going through my hands, but I just gradually upped the current as I went on with my treatments.
We were incredibly touched by Rebecca’s story and how Dermadry’s iontophoresis machine helped her regain confidence and allowed her to focus on her studies and work rather than being preoccupied with her sweaty hands, which she had been struggling with since she was 13 years old.
Her story, and the story of many others in similar situations has inspired us to launch a giveaway to thank healthcare workers around the globe. In light of current global happenings, we have decided to lend a helping hand to more healthcare professionals, who are working tirelessly now and always to keep us safe and healthy. Excessive sweating should be the last thing on anyone’s mind right now and it should not get in the way of performing essential and potentially life-saving tasks.
Giveaway for Healthcare Professionals
To give our thanks, we decided to launch an exclusive giveaway open to all healthcare professionals worldwide. We want to lend a helping hand to those who help people every single day by alleviating the burden that hyperhidrosis places on them, so we gave away five Dermadry Total machines.
This is our way of thanking those who are working tirelessly to keep us safe, and to raise awareness about the unique occupational struggles and challenges hyperhidrosis sufferers face on the daily.
The Winners of our Giveaway for Healthcare Professionals!
Meet the winners of our Dermadry giveaway for healthcare workers below!
Thank you to everyone who submitted their entry and shared their story with us. The winners will each be receiving a Dermadry Total to treat their excessive sweating so they can get hyperhidrosis off their minds and focus on the things that matter!
“I have been suffering from hyperhidrosis since I was a kid and it has led me to a lot of social awkwardness.
This condition got me even worse when I am practicing in the clinic, as I am a dentist I am required to put on gloves for obvious reasons.
Sometimes when days are good, putting on gloves are a breeze, but most of the time, it is a very awkward situation. Especially having to put on gloves on sweaty hands in front of the patient. I remember back in my dental school days, it was a nightmare when the supervisors were looking and waiting for you to put on your gloves, and in the end it got worse!”
“I volunteer in a hospital with Ronald McDonald House Charities, helping families of sick children. I'm often distracted by excessive sweating, and even though I'm always smiling, my hyperhidrosis often distracts me from living in the present moment.”
Rose, Saudi Arabia
"Hyperhidrosis makes me feel uncomfortable and itchy in every procedure, knowing my hands and entire body are sweating, which is only made worse being in complete PPE to protect yourself from COVID-19. I’m always struggling to change gloves because of too much sweat and the next patient is always waiting."
Louise, United Kingdom
“Technically I can fit into a XS glove, however, I have to wear medium to large due to sweating and even so it's still a struggle! Every time I take off the gloves, I am embarrassed due to how much water drips down my arm. It also causes sore skin as it leaves my skin fragile to hand washing. My underarms, hands and feet are always sweating. it's embarrassing but no one would understand unless they suffer from it too! The photo shows my hand on a daily basis so imagine when I'm wearing gloves!”
“This is my underarm after getting home from the hospital. Thankfully the white coat hides the sweat but the uncomfortable feeling is still there making me anxious.”