COVID-restrictions are slowly easing in Melbourne so the prospect of getting out-and- about over summer is upon us. Some dermatologists in Melbourne would have seen an influx of patients wanting to say goodbye to sweaty armpits before Christmas and we have certainly seen this at Chroma Dermatology!

So, we thought it was the right time to explore the answers to the common questions we get asked about injection treatments for excessive sweating. 

To learn more about sweating in general or excessive sweating, click here .

Here are answers to the 10 most common questions we get asked about injection treatments for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) of the armpits (axilla)

How do I know if my sweating is “excessive”?
If you feel your sweating prevents you from wearing your favourite clothes or you don’t want to raise your hand at school because of the sweat pool in your armpits, you have hyperhidrosis. If you sweat even when it is cold and the sweating affects your confidence or personal interactions, you have hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is defined by the patient’s subjective feeling about their level of sweating affecting their everyday life.

Are injectable treatments for excessive sweating safe?
Firstly, it is important to chat to your doctor about your symptoms in order to work out if there is an underlying reason for your sweating. If so, these issues need to be addressed.

If your sweating is “primary” (that is, not due to an underlying medical condition), then you can discuss treatment options with your dermatologist that are best for you. Injection treatments for excessive sweating are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. People with certain medical conditions may not be able to have these injection treatments. Please consult with a dermatologist who has experience treating excessive sweating to find out if this treatment is safe for you.

There are currently no reports of these injections causing problems with organs or future fertility which is something we get asked often.

How much do the injectable treatments for excessive sweating cost?
The cost of injections for excessive sweating will vary depending on where you get treatment. Treatment with a registered dermatologist injector in Australia will be subsidised through Medicare if you meet the criteria for receiving the treatment. So, it makes sense to have treatment with a dermatologist who is registered to peform this treatment. Often the out-of-pocket cost will vary from $350-500AUD. Please call your preferred dermatology centre for more information on this.

How old do you have to be to qualify for the injections?
By age 12, if you meet the other criteria (assessed by a dermatologist), Medicare will provide a rebate on your treatment.

What is in this injectable treatment for excessive sweating?
The injectable treatment is a natural, purified protein extracted from bacteria under laboratory conditions. This injected treatment has been used in Australia for other medical conditions for over 20 years now.

How does the treatment work?
The injections work by preventing the release of a chemical (acetylcholine) from the nerves that signals the sweat glands to activate.

How long does the treatment take?
Depending on the set up of the centre you attend and the experience of the injecting dermatologist, the treatments can be done in as little as 10-15 minutes from start to end! An easy lunch time or end-of-day treatment.

How is the treatment performed?
After the area has been prepared and cleaned, the dermatologist will inject the treatment into the skin with a very small, fine needle. Anaesthetic is not required as the procedure is tolerated very well but some mild discomfort is felt and, in these cases, we can use ice packs in the area before and during the treatment. Some centres use numbing creams but our patients and scientific research shows that ice packs are the way to go for patient comfort and efficiency.

What happens after the treatment?
It’s best not to exercise vigorously in the first 24 hours but otherwise you can resume all your normal activities. Usually, it takes about a week for the injected treatment to start working.

How long do the effects of the injection last?
For most people, the first injection gives a 4-month ‘sweat-free’ period. With subsequent injections, the effects can last longer. Some of the patients that Dr Michelle Rodrigues has been treating since 2011 (when it was first subsidised) only need treatment every 12-18months.

While this treatment is not suitable for everyone, it is worth exploring options for your excessive sweating with your dermatologist. Treatments for palms, soles, and generalised sweating also available and these too can be discussed with your dermatologist.

For those who are keen to be sweat-free this summer, we hope this blog has answered some of your questions!

The information contained in this blog post is intended as a guide only and should not substitute seeking medical attention. Please see your healthcare provider for more information on suitability of products, treatments or procedures.