For hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), botulinum toxin works by blocking the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. Botulinum toxin is derived from bacteria in much the same way penicillin is derived from mold. Botulinum toxin has been safely used to treat millions of people for more than 10 years for several therapeutic conditions.
Using botulinum toxin to alleviate the symptoms of hyperhidrosis is a promising new approach. Research has shown that treating armpit, hand, facial, and gustatory (related to salivation or eating) hyperhidrosis with botulinum toxin is safe and effective. In recent studies, when botulinum toxin was injected into under arm areas affected by hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating was relieved for several months. And 28% of those studied, the anhidrosis (or lack of sweating) lasted over a year.
When treatment of underarm hyperhidrosis with topical antiperspirants has been unsuccessful, botulinum toxin is a highly effective and convenient alternative. The injections can be performed in office, require little time, and do not demand any restrictions in work or leisure activity (aside from refraining from intensive exercise or the use of a sauna on the day of the injections).
It’s important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved botulinum toxin for axillary hyperhidrosis on July 19th, 2004. It should also be noted that botulinum toxin has been approved for use in hyperhidrosis by regulatory authorities in over half a dozen other countries, including Canada and certain countries in Europe and South America. Keep in mind, also, that it may take several injection sessions to achieve desired results and that during each injection session multiple injections are given in an attempt to cover the entire affected area. These injections can be painful especially in the palms and soles of the feet. In addition, although botulinum toxin stops sweating, it doesn’t prevent body odor.