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Health News

Another use for Botox – it stops you sweating

Noticed that the person next to you is not sweating? Perhaps they have poison in their armpits.

Excessive perspirers are having their sweat glands turned off with injections of Botox, according to a cosmetic surgery company, The Harley Medical Group. It says the number of patients receiving the "sweatox" injections has trebled in the past three months and now makes up 31 per cent of its treatments involving Botox, more commonly used to smooth wrinkles.

Botulinum toxin, to give it its scientific name, can block the nerve endings of sweat glands in the arms, chest, hands and feet. The company says the treatment dries out those who suffer from the condition hyperhidrosis, as well as those who sweat profusely on first dates or "wish to appear cool at work". It costs £550 a time and lasts for six months.

Use of Botox to ease nerve-racking moments may lead to claims that cosmetic surgeons are offering medical treatments as casual lifestyle choices.

During the summer, bus and train commuters experience stifling heat, with passengers on the London Underground, for instance, having to put up with temperatures over 37C.

Patches of perspiration are considered unsightly. In one infamous case, Tony Blair drenched his shirt during the 2001 Labour Party conference. His aides had earlier boasted that his drenched blue shirts showed he worked hard. Mr Blair's spokesman last year denied that the former premier had sought treatment for the condition.

"Whilst normal sweating regulates body temperature, excessive sweating can be chronically embarrassing," said Nicky Naylor, the Harley Medical Group's Botox specialist. "Sufferers can start avoiding social situations.

"But it's not just those with a severe problem. My patients include those whose nervousness when presenting gets them sweating severely in front of hundreds of people, and shy men and women who break out in a sweat in nerve-racking social situations.

"Many patients feel that not having to worry about getting uncomfortably sweaty is a big boost to their confidence, especially during summer." The group said it had performed 55 per cent more Botox procedures – its second most-requested non-surgical procedure after laser hair removal – than last year.

A hyperhydrosis sufferer, Sara Jones, whose words were conveyed by the company, said: "Before I tried Botox, my body, hands and feet felt clammy with sweat most of the time. Shaking hands with new people was a trial, I always had to explain my sweaty hands. The Botox treatments have been effective."

Other treatments include oral tablets such as Robinul; a procedure called iontophoresis, which involves pails of water and electrodes, and surgery which requires "clipping" or burning of nerves.

The BBC television reporter James Pearce is one sufferer: he divulged yesterday that he had been sweating so much while covering the Olympics that he had retreated indoors to broadcast. In his blog from Beijing, he mused: "Maybe I don't have the right deodorant, but the problem is more fundamental. I would challenge anybody to go outside in this humidity and not perspire.

"I do feel obliged to have some sensitivity for the TV viewers. The last thing anybody wants to see on television is a reporter drowning in his own sweat."

How does Sweatox work?

* Botulinum toxin is a poison but can be used in tiny quantities cosmetically. Botox is a brand name for it.

* A surgeon injects Botox into a sweaty area, such as an armpit or palm.

* Small amounts of the poison block the action of nerves in the sweat glands.

* The area becomes dry after about a week and remains without perspiration for months.

* Sweat slowly returns as nerve endings grow back in six to 12 weeks.

* A new treatment is usually required after seven months.

Source: Harley Medical Group