Botox, a brand name of Botulinum toxin type A, is best known as an anti-ageing treatment but has a range of clinical uses. The therapeutic benefits of botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) for treating Hyperhidrosis, a condition characterised by abnormally high levels of perspiration, first came to light during the 1990s and has since been approved by various government agencies for the treatment of that condition.
Wrinkles, caused by taut muscles under the skin, are smoothed away by the muscle-relaxing effects of BTX-A. Clinical trials have demonstrated that BTX-A, when injected into the connecting tissues between the dermis and the subcutaneous layer of fat, reduces perspiration by blocking communication between the sweat gland receptors and the brain.
One to three per cent of the UK population suffers from hyperhidrosis and the condition, triggered by a number of factors, may be localised or generalised and varies in its level of severity. Sweat glands, activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, plays a key role in the thermoregulation of the body but in some cases may produce more sweat than is necessary due to hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
Botox, an inhibitor of the SNS, reduces abnormal perspiration levels by blocking signals sent by acetylcholine to the brain. Clinical trials have shown that BTX-A is effective at treating Axillary, Focal and Palmer hyperhidrosis.
Axillary hyperhidrosis, characterised by excessive underarm sweating, can be treated by the intracutaneous injection of BTX-A into the armpits and works by inhibiting the apocrine sweat glands.
BTX-A is effective at reducing the symptoms of Focal hyperhidrosis, that is excessive sweating in different areas of the body that lacks an identifiable cause, and may be recommended when other treatment options have failed. Palmar hyperhidrosis, or sweaty palms, can be treated by BTX-A when topical remedies prove ineffective.
Between fifteen and twenty injections will be applied to the affected area and should stop excessive sweating for around three to six months, depending on the individual, after which the process will need to be repeated.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the Health Products and Food Branch of Heath Canada all approve the use of Botox for the clinical treatment of hyperhidrosis.
A doctor, having diagnosed the patient with excessive sweating, will write a prescription for BTX-A if other medications are deemed to be ineffective at treating the condition. All drugs must be used in accordance with their dosage guide and BTX-A, a powerful neurotoxin, should not be taken in excess of its recommended dose.