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Up until six months ago, I made it 24 cursed years enduring sweaty hands in the summer. While it’s usually difficult to gauge “normal” body behavior, since everyone is so different, I have always known that the way my hands sweat is not typical. Anytime the temperature reached above 70 degrees, my fingertips would start to feel heavy, and beads of sweat accumulated at the top of each digit.
As a healthy kid who only needed to see her pediatrician once a year for an annual checkup, the world of specialists and “skin conditions” was unknown to me. I didn’t know that what I was experiencing could be diagnosed with a treatment plan.
Sometimes sweaty hands could be fun, providing me with a quick way to make my sister scream — I would touch the back of her arm and wait for her to shriek with disgust by how wet my hands were. But most of the time, it made me miserable.
Occasionally, the effects it had on my life could be categorized as “first world problems” like not being able to log in to my iPhone via Touch ID since my fingertips were so wet it would obscure my fingerprint. Other times the effects were more emotional, like not being able to hold my boyfriend’s hand between May and October because it was too uncomfortable to trap so much moisture between our palms.
Because I have only ever felt this sensation in warm weather, I would forget about how much of an impact it had on me as soon as the weather cooled down. Cold weather would return my hands to that of a person who didn’t live with hyperhidrosis. I could go back to holding hands with my boyfriend, I could log into my iPhone, and I could forget about how uncomfortable I was until summertime.
It wasn’t until I was watching an episode of the Real Housewives of Potomac that I realized there were options for managing sweat that I didn’t know about. Katie Rost got rid of her sweaty hands and underarms through Botox.
All I knew about Botox from the show was that it seemed widely available to the women on the show and did not seem like a serious procedure. I scheduled an appointment with my dermatologist to learn more.
It turns out, diagnosing hyperhidrosis is a lot more informal than I expected. My dermatologist was most concerned about me feeling comfortable. To diagnose me, she just needed to know if my sweaty hands negatively affected how I lived my life.
While diagnosing hyperhidrosis is simple, getting insurance to cover Botox, or the more extreme level of care, Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS), as your treatment plan isn’t as straightforward.
First, insurance required me to try Qbrexza, a less invasive form of treatment. Qbrexza is a prescription medication applied topically in the form of a wipe. While it’s less invasive than botox or ETS, Qbrexza requires a lot of accommodations to work efficiently. My instructions were to wipe it on both hands and sit very still for 30 minutes each night, careful not to touch my face or anything else. To see results, I was required to do this daily.
I hated Qbrexza. Not being able to do anything with my hands for 30 minutes was incredibly difficult for me. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be for someone with responsibilities at home, or who didn’t have 30 minutes to spare each night.
I wasn’t willing to commit to 30 minutes of immobility every day just to manage my sweating. It felt like an incredibly unreasonable time commitment and I abandoned it after only three days.
Ultimately, I met the demands of my insurance and I was approved for Botox. I eagerly awaited my procedure.
When injecting botox into your fingertips, the needle goes so deep below the surface that a numbing cream isn’t really beneficial. Instead, my dermatologist had me ice my hands for 15 minutes until they were essentially numb; the cold would help take my mind off of the pain.
It took both my dermatologist and her assistant to maneuver the procedure — my dermatologist injecting the Botox, her assistant prepping the needles and wiping the blood from each injection.
I received three injections in each digit and around nine injections in each palm. The pain was excruciating since hands have so much sensation. I nearly passed out, but it was worth it.
The results of the botox were almost immediate. Within two days, I noticed my hands no longer sweat. It’s now been six months since that procedure (and the return of cold weather), so it’s hard to tell if the effects have worn off yet, but so far, so good.
All in all, Botox is my miracle. It is incredibly painful and incredibly expensive, but I’m grateful to have access to a dermatologist that was so willing to guide me through the process and insurance that helped offset the cost (a whopping $700).