The basics behind water wicking
Water wicking fabrics can play an important role in the life of those of us that sweat excessively. It's important to understand how these fabrics work so that the purchasing experience can be optimized both from a effectiveness and dollar perspective. Water wicking is a fabric's ability to pull water away from the body's surface and depends on two principles, percolation and evaporation. Essentially, percolation refers to a fabric's capacity
to absorb and transport water away from the skin it covers. Having said this, it is equally important for the fabric to be able to rid itself of the water it absorbs through the process of evaporation. So, on the one hand a fabric must absorb water, and on the other, it must dispose of it.
How a fabric performs on both these levels depends on the recipe used to make the fabric. For example, a natural fiber may be able to absorb better than a synthetic fiber but the latter may dry faster. Manufacturers have played with different natural/synthetic fiber mixes in efforts to develop fabrics that effectively wick and dry. In our last blog we talked about cotton and its ability to absorb water. Although it remains a choice fabric for comfort and its ability to 'breathe', it is not the ideal moisture wicking fabric. Its ability to dry remains on the 'slowish' side. To quote a professor of textile chemistry at the University of Nebraska, Yiqi Yang says: 'you want [the fabric] to wick water as good as cotton, but you don't want it soaked'

In contrast to cotton, the synthetic fiber polyester wants nothing to do with water. Its capacity to absorb is poor but its ability to rid itself of the water with which it comes into contact is very good.
Altered polyester fiber with water wicking channels
As a result, some manufacturers have chosen to weave cotton/polyester fiber mixes (e.g. 85% polyester/15% cotton) that do a great job at keeping the body dry. Others have chosen to actually make changes in the physical shape ( more or less a clover-leaf shape) of the polyester fiber, creating channels which draw and expel water away from the skin's surface.
Silver impregnated fibers destroy bacteria that are the source of malodour.

Finally, some fabrics may contains silver. Silver ions have long been known to have bacteriostatic activity. Applying this notion to fabrics has provided clothing that wards off potential odour-causing bacteria. 

In our next posting we will review results from our Gustatory Sweating survey.
Lots of very interesting information to come. 
So stay tuned!

You are probably already aware that cotton 'breathes' better than synthetic fabrics. As such, cotton fabric is often preferred for individuals looking for clothing that will minimize perspiration. A new study* now confirms that cotton is indeed the choice fabric for those of us that sweat excessively or for those among us that wish to remain dry.
The study showed that textiles can harbour microorganisms and sweat that both originate from the surface of our skin. Investigators looked at the degree to which microbial growth and odor developed within cotton and polyester fabrics. T-shirts from 26 healthy individuals were collected after intense spinning sessions. These were subsequently incubated for 28 hours to encourage microbial growth. The polyester T-shirts smelled significantly less pleasant and more intense compared to the cotton T-shirts. The cotton fabric also encouraged bacterial growth from a multitude of strains while odor causing microorganisms were more commonly found within synthetic fabric.
The next time you are purchasing clothing let this study be a reminder that cotton should be your go-to fabric. For more information on this subject, click here to access pertinent pages from our website.

Next month we will look more closely at the principle of water 'wicking' and how it relates to a number of fabrics. Fabrics and their ability to wick water is an important tool in the fight against hyperhidrosis. For now, feel free to consult our Stay Dry Tips for a brief review of water wicking.

*Callewaert, C et.al. Apply Environ Microbiol, Nov 2014

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As promised last month, we have more results from our Living Life survey. On our home page we refer to focal hyperhidrosis as the 'silent handicap' and the following results support this notion. In our last post we mentioned that almost 9 out of 10 respondents said they had experienced embarrassment or felt self-conscious in the two weeks previous to answering the questionnaire.  
The condition is also problematic on a daily basis. Half the respondents mentioned that their sweating condition interfered significantly with their work or studying. Another 40% said that the condition interfered 'a little' with regards to these activities. Half or 50% mentioned that their condition interfered significantly with daily activities such as shopping or household chores.
The problem is not limited to social or work settings. In the bedroom, hyperhidrosis interferes significantly in 20% of individuals. Close to another 25% mention that it interferered 'a little'. But the problems in the bedroom don't stop there. About three quaters of individuals report that hyperhidrosis dictates the type of clothing they will wear.
In the coming weeks we will share results from our other surveys (gustatory sweating and its triggers, genetic links, surgery etc.) 
On another note, if you know a child that may have hyperhidrosis, make sure to refer their mom or dad to our website. We have a section that discusses the problem in children as well as some Back to School help for parents. In a study in Pediatric Dermatology, researchers from the University of Texas consider gels such as DryDerm first-line treatment in children with hyperhidrosis.
For those among us that deal with hyperhidrosis, there is no question that this condition has an impact on the way we live our lives. Many studies have shown that hyperhidrosis has an impact from a social, emotional, and professional perspective. But very few 'real life' surveys have been conducted among people with this condition. And so, we decided to try to survey individuals with excessive sweating to determine to what degree this problem affects their daily lives. For the first time, we share some of these results with you. 
Most individuals that responded suffered from excessive sweating in the underarm region (60%). A little over half had hyperhidrosis in the facial area and almost half had palmar hyperhidrosis. When asked to what degree their condition interfered with socializing, 20% said the problem 'interfered very much' and two-thirds mentioned 'interfered a lot'. 

What about relationships? More than half said their condition interfered very much or a lot with relationships with partners, friends and/or relatives. Similarly, 40% mentioned that the condition interferes with playing or participating in an outdoor game or sport (for example biking, hiking, golf etc.). From a more personal perspective, more than 90% of individuals said that their condition caused them to be self-concious or embarassed in the last one to two weeks.
More results to come in our October post. 
In September we will present some of the results from our on-going surveys. These results will provide a 'window' on the lives of individuals with focal hyperhidrosis. Topics include quality of life, heredity, surgery and gustatory sweating. 

These surveys are anonymous and remain open. The more people participate, the more reliable are the results. If you have focal hyperhidrosis, feel free to participate. Click on the surveys link to access all our questionnaires.

We are on vacation in August and take a break from our Sweating Matters blog. It's business as usual for the rest of the Dry Pharmacist services including the Dry Pharmacy and Ask the Dry Pharmacist. 
Thanks for your continued support and see you back here in September.
A recent Brazilian study* looked at whether individuals with focal hyperhidrosis (FHH) are more likely to be anxious and depressed than the general population. Almost 200 people were recruited for this study so the results are quite reliable. 
Half (49.6%) the individuals with FHH were considered anxious while 11.2% were depressed. While the prevalence of anxiety is increased in FHH, it is not of depression. 
Interestingly, the prevalence of anxiety is greater in axillary (or underarm) and craniofacial hyperhidrosis. Anxiety tends to affect about 16% of the population. So, individuals with excessive sweating are at least three times more likely to have some form of anxiety than those without hyperhidrosis. 
The study also determined the degree of severity in those suffering from anxiety. While 
about half had mild anxiety, a little more than one third had moderate anxiety. Severe forms of 
anxiety were identified in 10%. 
For more information, go to our Social Anxiety Disorder and Hyperhidrosis page.
* An Bras Dermatol. 2014

In previous posts we reported on studies related to surgical interventions including their outcomes and satisfaction rates as assessed by individuals undergoing these procedures ( see Feb 2014 / March & May 2013). A recent study* looked at similar parameters but over a much longer time horizon. Medical researchers from the University of Alabama interviewed almost 200 individuals that underwent thoracoscopic sympathotomy.  
A little over three quarters (77%) reported 'clinically bothersome' post-surgical compensatory hyperhidrosis (CH). However, this rate decreased over time. The rate of CH decreased to an average of 35% after 5 and 12 years post-operatively. This is still a significant number - about one-third of individuals having had surgery essentially 'relocated' their region of excessive sweating. Granted the relocalized region may be less bothersome than their initial or pre-operative site of excessive sweating. A smaller number of individuals, 6.2%, regretted having the operation in the first place.
These results are worth bearing in mind, particularly if you are contemplating a surgical option. While you may get relief from the site that is affected, it is likely that you will develop hyperhidrosis in another site. Knowing this up front will help you better manage the disappointment if you happen to be one of those individuals that ends up experiencing compensatory hyperhidrosis.
* Bryant AS, Cerfolio RJ. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg, April 2014

A recent German study demonstrated that individuals with hyperhidrosis tend to be more chronically stressed and 
depressed than the general population. Those with 
hyperhidrosis scored higher and therefore had greater 
association with stress attributes such as 'lack of social recognition', 'chronic worrying', and 'excessive demands from work'. 

These attributes scored particularly high in those with axillary hyperhidrosis. This same group of individuals was also associated with additional stress attributes such as 'work discontent' and 'social overload'. There was a similar trend related to depression, again showing a greater propensity (higher depression scores) for depression among those with hyperhidrosis. As many as sixty percent of 'excessive sweaters' showed significantly higher depression scores compared to 10% of those in the non-hyperhidrosis group.
The authors of the study do make a point that individuals with hyperhidrosis often develop their condition at an early age - these are formative years that are particularly sensitive to changes and disturbances in the development of esteem and identity.

Next Month: a look at satisfaction rates 5 years after surgery 
Do men sweat more than women? Turns out that, in general, men do sweat more. And, at a faster rate to boot. From an  evolutionary  perspective, men developed a more efficient way to cool off given that they were more physically active (don't get me wrong here - we are talking way back in time). For example, they were more likely to be outdoors involved in activities such as hunting. Greater exposure to heat and a more active lifestyle helped develop a more efficient means of reducing body temperature when needed. 

On the other hand, women tended to be engaged in relatively less physically demanding activities (e.g. rearing of children, etc.) and as a result evolved to sweat less then men. While this may seem more appealing to some, sweating less does come with a few drawbacks. Women tend to be at greater risk of heat stroke or exhaustion. Their smaller body size/surface area along with a less efficient cooling mechanism makes them at greater risk of dehydration. 
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