The Challenges of Being a Student with Hyperhidrosis
Dealing with hyperhidrosis as a student is extremely challenging. Whether you are constantly sweating through your school uniform, trying to hide sweat marks, shying away from social activities, or ruining books, papers, and technology tools because of your sweaty hands, it’s hard to ignore the effects hyperhidrosis can have on student life. It can also lead to an increase in stress levels, anxiety, isolation, and bullying.
Many suffer from hyperhidrosis in childhood, but for most, the symptoms of hyperhidrosis show up during adolescence and young adulthood. Axillary hyperhidrosis (underarm sweating) usually coincides with puberty. For those who suffer from hyperhidrosis, this makes an already incredibly challenging time even more difficult.
No matter the level of schooling you are currently at, from primary school all the way to university, hyperhidrosis remains a struggle with its life-altering impacts and anxiety-causing secondary effects.
If you have hyperhidrosis, you may be all too aware and familiar with the challenges it presents. We’ve listed some below:
Here are some of the ways hyperhidrosis can impact studies and student life:
- Difficulty concentrating due to being too preoccupied with sweating and if others around are noticing.
- Staining expensive school uniforms and clothing, leading to a recurring expense.
- Struggling with body odour. Hyperhidrosis is often linked to another condition called bromhidrosis, characterised by foul body odour.
- Layering up and dressing inappropriately for the weather. (e.g. thick, dark clothing on hot days).
- Increase self-consciousness, lower self-esteem.
- Difficulty using technology tools (phones, calculators, computers, etc.) as they can be difficult to use and destroyed by excessive hand sweating.
- Having to carry around tissues/towels to soak up sweat is an inconvenience/burden.
- Higher costs associated with re-purchasing school supplies, special sweat-proof clothing, etc.
- Time spent changing, reapplying antiperspirants, and drying off (tissues, hand dryers in bathroom, etc.)
- Limited wardrobe selection (colours and material) can limit someone’s style and freedom of expression. This leads many to dress in a way that doesn’t reflect their personality and individual style preferences.
- Limited social life and activities due to worrying about how excessive sweating will interfere with an activity or will be noticed and perceived by others.
- Missed job opportunities/career fairs due to worrying about sweaty hands and handshakes/first impressions.
- Discouraged from pursuing hobbies and after-school activities, which is crucial to socializing and meeting new people in an important stage of life.
- Altered career path, many base their career path and studies based on what they believe their hyperhidrosis will not interfere with.
- General lack of understanding and misinformation among the public, including teachers. This leads teachers to not accommodating students in the classroom and not being understanding of the challenges they face.
- Higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Hyperhidrosis issues at school are relatively common, in fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 17% of all high school students experience excessive sweating. However, due to a lack of understanding and misinformation surrounding the condition many are left unaware, undiagnosed, and untreated. Abnormal sweating levels are often disregarded as a part of puberty and being an adolescent, which leads many unaware that it is a treatable medical condition. Hyperhidrosis can lead to heightened levels of stress and anxiety, negatively impact school performance, and can lead to social isolation and even bullying.
If you’re a student who sweats too much, you may benefit from our tips below.
Tips for students with hyperhidrosis:
- You’ve likely heard about keeping an “emergency kit’ in your locker, but what about a sweat kit? Keeping a travel “Sweat Kit’ in your bag or locker can help you touch-up during the day and ensure you are looking and feeling your best all day long, and lets you focus on more important things like studying and getting work done! Our suggestions to keep in your DIY kit are:
- Absorbent microfibre towels and/or handkerchiefs. These can help soak up extra sweat and touch-up on the go.
- Cleansing and/or deodorant wipes. These can be great for a quick touch-up to ensure you remain smelling fresh and clean. It may be particularly useful after a physical education class or after a particularly sweat or anxiety-inducing moment.
- Antiperspirants, deodorants, and/or perfumes! Whether you use sticks, creams, or wipes, it may be ideal to bring some on-the-go in a travel size format or tube to re-apply throughout the day. Perfume or body spray can help you smell and feel fresh all day.
- Anything else that may help you feel more confident and keep sweat off your mind, such as hair ties, sweat-absorbent underarm pads, body powder, insoles, towels, etc. Customize it to fit your specific needs, much like you would a makeup or gym bag!
- Keep a change of clothes and/or shoes. If you have a school uniform, you can keep an extra set in your locker “just in case”. If you don’t have a uniform, then just keep a similar change of clothes in your locker. Many hyperhidrosis sufferers swear by buying multiple sets of the same item of clothing, and identical pairs of shoes. This makes it easy to change without others noticing you’ve changed clothing.
- Talk to a trusted person about your condition. Hyperhidrosis sufferers may face additional challenges at school, including writing exams and papers. Having a tissue or towel at your desk while writing may be beneficial if you suffer from excessive hand sweating. We suggest bringing it up to your teacher or professor if you think it may interfere with your ability to complete certain tasks, or if having a tissue at your desk during an exam may pose a problem. If you explain it to them, they may be more understanding and accommodating.
- Apply antiperspirant at night before bed. In mild cases, antiperspirants may help keep sweating under control, but be sure to apply it properly and follow the instructions on the packaging. It’s best to apply it right after a shower on clean skin, and before going to bed. This will help the antiperspirant work to its maximum efficiency.
- Wear the right clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident
- If you have a uniform: If sweat stains make you uncomfortable and self-conscious and you’re stuck wearing a uniform, try to wear darker colours if possible, or white, as this will help conceal sweat stains. If this isn’t an option, layering up with a cardigan or having a sweat-proof layer underneath can help keep sweat at bay.
- If you do not have a uniform: Pick your wardrobe strategically! Sweat-proof your wardrobe by including darker colours, moisture-wicking materials, and layering your outfits. Read more of our hyperhidrosis wardrobe tips here.
- Treat the condition for peace of mind. It’s not always obvious to have to carry extra stuff around and seemingly orient your life around sweating, so the best way to deal with hyperhidrosis is by treating it. There are many treatments available for hyperhidrosis, including iontophoresis, which is often the preferred choice as it can be done at home and fit into any schedule. To learn more about iontophoresis as a treatment option, click here!
If you are a parent of a child with hyperhidrosis it’s important to inform yourself of the condition. Equipping them with the right tools to help them succeed, providing resources, and helping them seek medical advice and experiment with treatment options is crucial. If you are an educator of a student with hyperhidrosis, be accommodating and don’t underestimate the impact it can have on a student’s confidence and abilities in the classroom.
Many people who have hyperhidrosis are wary of talking to anyone about the condition, whether it’s because they’re unaware that excessive sweating is a condition and not just a part of growing up, or they’re too embarrassed to talk about it. It is the #1 dermatological disease in terms of negatively affecting a person’s quality of life (greater than eczema, and psoriasis). In a study conducted on quality of life in hyperhidrosis patients, 63% experienced interference in the performance of tasks at work or school. The majority regarded this as the most important impact of the condition.
Dermadry Hyperhidrosis Scholarship 2021
Launched in 2019, Dermadry’s Hyperhidrosis Scholarship is the first and only of its kind, that is a scholarship exclusively for students with hyperhidrosis. Every year, Dermadry asks students affected by hyperhidrosis to come forward and share their stories.
The 2021 edition of the Dermadry Hyperhidrosis Scholarship is now closed, congratulations to our winner Marc Allen! Come back next year for the 2022 edition!