Coming Soon on FIVE - Sweaty Betty: Hidden Lives

sweaty betty: hidden lives

It is often remarked that ladies do not sweat, they perspire – yet some women really do suffer from a medical condition that provokes near-constant sweating. Hyperhidrosis can lead to frequent embarrassment and discomfort as even simple activities leave sufferers dripping wet. Hidden Lives meets the women who struggle with this rarely acknowledged condition and follows their individual journeys in search of a solution.

Among the women featured is American Anne Schouveller, who has become an expert in hyperhidrosis since being diagnosed with it seven years ago. She has set up a website called ‘Sweaty Betty’ to raise awareness of the condition. Anne candidly shares her experience of this mortifying affliction, which embarrasses her 12year-old daughter and forces the whole family to adapt their activities around her sweating.

The programme also explores the story of a cheerful 19-year-old woman whose facial sweating impacts on her social life and is aggravated by her job working in a hairdresser’s. Will a course of botox injections end her lifelong struggle with hyperhidrosis?

Meanwhile, a 35-year-old mum believes the solution to her unstoppable armpit sweating may lie in complex ETS surgery – but other women claim to have suffered side effects from the procedure. Is there any surefire way to tackle this little-known and poorly understood condition?

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  • Vicky

    I have just watched the programme sweaty betty and was shocked to see that the 35year old lady who sweats profusely from her armpits was denied surgery. I am 24 years old and have recently had surgery to cut my sweat glands after suffering from this condition for nearly 10 years.The surgery I had was not ETS but another form of a similar process. I am not sure if it is possible to pass this information onto this lady but if it is, please let her know that there are alternative surgeries available. My surgery was not without complications but it is certainly better than the alternative.

  • Mary

    I watched the Hidden Lives programme about the problem of hyperhidrosis last night with great interest. I suffered from excessive persperation under my arms for many years. About twenty years ago I underwent surgery to remove some of the sweat glands from under my arms and from that day to this the problem has been completely eradicated. I wear a deodorant specifically designed to help with this problem (Driclor which is available on prescription) and I only have to use it one day a week. The more radical surgery was suggested to me which I refused. I can certainly recommend the operation that I had – IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. The surgeon that I saw in Harley Street, London carried out many operations of this kind.

  • Rob Thompson

    I’ve just watched the programme Sweaty Betty and I have the same problem in my under arm area. It’s bothered me for years and now I know I’m not alone. Should I go to my doctor and get advice about treatment as I’ve considered Botox as an option?

  • Viki

    I have also suffered from this condition for about 20 years until 5 years ago i saw a article on the botox treatment, i have had botox 4 times now, once a year, and it has changed my life. Anyone with this condition should certainly give it a go, its costs around £400 to £500 pounds, but is available on some NHS districts but unfortunately not in my area.

  • Anonymous

    i have also suffered form this problem which started two years ago at 14 years of age and got excessive sweating from the hands feet and underarms. This used to get me so down and depressed and i didnt want to go out because i was embarassed about the condition. i too tried all the speacial deodrants but they just made me really sore and didnt really work for me. I too watch the program and its so reassuring to know that your not the only one out their with it and i didnt realise how popular the condition is.
    I take medication for my problem now and suffer from a few side affects but the sweating has gone and i am so much happier. i also use a idrostar machine which passes a electric current through your body which you can buy to help the problem and it’s totally safe, i was surprised they didnt mention such treatment on the program as it is really affective!.

  • Andrea Poole

    Hi I sat to watch the programme in the hope it would show something new. I began with heavy sweating under my armpits at about 13 years, it was very severe and the sweat would drench my clothes down to the waistband of my skirt. It was so embarrasing, this disappeared when I was about 20. I am 43 now. When I was about 32 my sweating problems really began. I also have fibromyalgis, suffer from chonic back pain due to an accident where my spine was damaged and am now also being referred to a multiple sclerosis specialist as it looks very likely I have ms. My sweating problem is no longer un my arms and normal antiperspirant is all I need to keep it at bay, my sweating however is now all over my face, head and neck, down my back under my breasts, down the back of my bottom and down the back of my neck. It is so severe I have to wear a sweatband around my head when ironing otherwise the clothes would be drenched. It has made my life quite miserable at times, but I have put it in to perspective. I have so many other problems that it is no longer the most important problem that it use to be. I have learnt to come to terms with it most days, I had to give up playing the clarinet because each time I played the sweat would run down my nose and into the instrument and it was also embarrasing when sitting for a short period on plastic chairs, I would get up from the chair only to find it wet through underneath as though I had wet myself. I was one of the first to try the electic shock type treament, where you place your hands into two bowls of water and run an electric current around your body. It had no affect whatsover regarding my sweating but anything was worth a try. I was told that if I had botox I would need so much over the years it could paralize my face, the operation was offered but I was told the sweating of excess fluid would have to come out somewhere. I decided against it for the present time in the hope that in a few years they will discover a cure. Both my daughters are also showing signs of heavy sweating. If anyone knows the website sweaty betty by anne schouvellor please can they put it on this site as I do not seem able to find it.

  • Sarah Mins

    I just watched the progamme and found it very interesting and was upset that the lady with sweaty armpits was not offered the treatment that I have already had. I had hyperhydrosis under my arms and it was awfull for me. I tried a few options that my doctor offered but nothing worked. He then suggested I could have surgery to remove the sweat glands from under my arms. I had it done privatey as the NHS would not cover this surgery as it is classed as “cosmetic surgery”

    Its been about 3 years now and I do not sweat under my arms any more. For me that treatment worked!

  • Viki

    Hi i was just interested by the comments of the young girl who started this condition at the age of 14, you say you are on medication. Could you tell me what this is as i have never been offered any medication from my doctor so if i have the name i can go and request it.

  • Anonymous

    I have used Hyperhidrosis Vests from Their vests stop sweat from showing so you don’t have to walk around with your arms by your side.

  • Anonymous

    hiya the medicaton that i am currently taking is called Glycopyrolate
    i was offered this by the hospital after a referal for my doctor after quiet a while of persisting though and it seems to be very benifical so far but i would also rcommend the electrolosis machine treatment as i am not just using the tablets on there own.
    I would also suggest reading the side affects before using them as they can sometimes leave you with a very dry mouth etc.
    i hope this helps solve your problems with hyperhydrosis and i apologise for no treplying sooner.

  • Hyperhidrosis is a fairly common disorder shared by millions across the world. By definition, Hyperhidrosis is the excessive sweating of the head, face, hands, feet and armpits no matter the temperature or conditions.

    The sweating is erratic, unpredictable and uncontrollable. You do have some options.

    To stop the excessive sweating try:

    1. Drysol

    Drysol is a prescription deodorant that works wonders for underarm, hand and foot sweating. Apply it to your hands, feet, armpits or anywhere else you sweat at night before bed. You only need to apply it once a day – it’s not like regular deodorant. This stuff is Clinical Strength. Beware of irritation with Drysol. You may have to take a day or two off from this treatment if your skin gets too dry, sensative or red with a rash.

    2. Drink more water to lower your body temperature.

    A lot of people are confused by this solution. They think if they drink more water, it will give them that much more fluid to sweat out. This is totally incorrect. Drinking more water cools your core temperature and will alleviate some of the excessive sweating. Of course now you’ll need to worry about all those bathroom breaks. 🙂

    3. Drink Green Tea or Sage Tea at night

    Tea contains an astringent property which will dry out oils and prevent excess moister from escaping the skin. It essentially drys you from the inside out.

    In addition to helping your complexion, green tea will neutralize many of the toxins that create the pungent odor in sweat. By the way, that odor is caused by bacteria that treats your sweat as a breeding ground. Gross!

    4. Try Certain Dri (non-prescription deodorant)

    You can buy this one at most pharmacies. Certain dry is a little less abrasive than Drysol so you won’t need to worry as much about irritation. It is however a little less strong. You’ll want to gauge your level of Hyperhidrosis by first trying Certain Dri. If your sweating continues, upgrade to Drysol and that should do the trick.

    5. Avoid spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine

    Don’t underestimate the power of your diet. Onions, Garlic, Curry, Coffee and a whole host of other ingredients are powerful triggers for hyperhidrosis sweating. Cut out some of these cultprits and see gradual but noticeable results. Add leafy greens and tea into your diet for a positive effect on sweating. Changing your diet will really cut out the spontaneous sweating from your daily lunch breaks.

    6. Try Iontophoresis treatments.

    This is more of a phase 3 solution. Try the clinical deodorants and diet fixes first. However, there is a treatment called Iontophoresis where you place your hands and feet into bowls or plates. The plates are filled with mineral water. Connected to the plates is an Iontophoresis electromagnetic device. Gentle electic pulses are distributed through mineral water. The minerals bond and temporarily change the nature of your sweat pores to block the sweat. This treatment works well. You can learn about it through the Source link I’ve provided below.

    7. Try a Sage Tea Soak

    There’s something called a Sage Tea solution what you do is…
    a. Buy Sage Tea from your supermarket
    b. Fill a large bowl with room temperature water
    c. Put the sage tea bags in the bowl and let the tea dissolve a bit.
    d. soak your hands for 15 minutes in the bowl.

    Sage Tea will act as an astringent to dry the skin and prevent excessive sweating for many days to follow.

    Don’t just do this soak one day. Do it everyday for 5 days straight (15 minutes at a time) and you’ll see great results.

    If your hands tan from the tea, just wash them in the sink with antibacterial soap. The residue will come off easily.

    8. ETS (Endoscopic Thorasic Surgery)

    If the sweating is bad enough, some people will opt towards ETS (Endoscopic Thorasic Surgery). This is, however, a LAST resort. I recommend you try everything else possible before opting towards surgery. You can speak with your Dermatologist to find out more.

    You can find tons other suggestions and natural solutions by visiting:

  • Georgia

    I suffer from excessive head sweating and it is becoming a real pain. I have an underactive thyroid and take 175mg of thyroxine per day and also omneprazole for reflux, I am also on the pill – cerazette. Most people with a severly underactive thyroid are prermanently cold, I find I cannot seem to control my body temperature, I am either too cold or too hot. I work nights in a supermarket mainly in the fridges which is a godsend when I start to get hot, but then becuase it is so cold – I get too cold and have to wrap up in gloves scarfs etc. I also find after working in the cold, a couple of hours after I get home and go to bed that I am so cold my body shakes and takes a while to get back to normal. The head sweating is very uncomfortable and especially in the hot weather we have been getting in the past few days it is becoming a nightmare. I sweat from my forehead, the side of head infront of my ears and the back of my head. My hair drips and water runs down the side of my face. I have a fan constantly going at home and have to keep standing in front of it to try and cool down. I am willing to try anything to help this – I am off to buy Driclor today to see if this helps. I don’t seem to sweat from any other part of my body, but when I do get hot my hands and feet seem to feel like they are buring and tingle. I don’t have sweaty armpits. I have started drinking green tea as I am told this will help with my metablolism (very slow due the thyroid problem). Does anyone have any ideas.

  • Anonymous

    Hi I have just watched the programme and would like to say I suffer from this condition (maybe not as bad as some of you on the programme) but I have come across Driclor, you get it from Boots for around £6-7 use it like a roll on deodrant nightly and wash off in the morning, it truely has worked wonders for me and with continous use you need not apply it as much and I can definitely say after at least 2 weeks of use I do not need it for a long while please be aware it does feel a tad itchy!!! good luck

  • Anonymous

    hi, i’ve just watched this program and wanted to share my story if it helps anyone.
    I’ve had hyperhydrosis since I was very young. I’m now 26, but i remember at school being only 6 or 7 having to have special blotting paper to use under my hands because they sweated so much i’d rip through my paper and smudge my writing. i also was always very sporty and used to have saw dust in my pockets when playing certain sports such as tennis. At that age i didn’t really know that it was embarrassing to be so sweaty but i soon found out! When i was a teenager i started sweating really badly under my arms as well as my hands. I’ve had years of bullying and horrible things said about, including some one told me once that i ‘made them feel sick’!. I hated it and tried everything. Its affected my whole life and the way i feel about myself, which i think will probably never go away in total.
    I’ve tired the dryclor and also botox. Neither worked for me at all. I also tried a wierd operation thing where they inserted a metal instruments into my armpits underneath the skin and kind of wiggled it around to try and disrupt the nerve endings. it also didn’t work. The doctor i went to always spoke about the ETS surgery as if it was a hugh risk and that i shouldn’t consider it. So i just gave up. I wanted to be doctor but knew that i would never be able to examine patients, use instruments with any dexterity, or even shake patients hands, so i gave up on that dream too and went to university to study something neutral, where i’d never have to use my hands (history). I also always wore black, denim and wool as i found that these where the best things to hide my sweaty armpits in. Even in the height of summer i’d wear a jumper and pull the sleeves down over my hands.
    One day i was watching a program called city hosptal where they talked about the ETS operation and where offering if on the NHS to people that had my problem. They were even examining a 12 year old girl for the operation and thats when it hit me that i had to have it and that it wasn’t this huge aweful operation that i had been led to believe. I was now 22 and if a 12 year old girl could do it, i could,
    So i went to my doctor and eventually got a referral to a thoracic surgeon and had my operation on the NHS.
    I’m not saying that its perfect. It was painful, and it has its side effects. i’m pleased to say that i didn’t have any major complications, but i do have rebound sweating.
    I now sweat on my feet alot, which i never did before, and its like my hands have transferred all there sweatyness to my feet. I don’t sweat nearly so much under my arms any more either but i do still sweat there but more like the amount of a normal person. (I had a sympathectomy of T1 (hands) and T2 (armpits). I also have some rebound sweating on my back.
    But after all this, i don’t sweat on my hands and i’m now at medical school. It changed my life and has made me so much happier. Yes i’m always going to be sweaty but, now i can have my ideal career and maybe in the future help others that have the same problem.

  • Boleslaw

    I watched this documentary and I’m not totaly agree with what the doctor said to the girl wiht HH on armpit comparing with the brazilian’s doctors. I’m from brazil and my mother is doctor and I had talked to her about it when I was young cos I sweat more than average people and she told me about the ETS surgery and the result was quite good and problems with side operation was quite rare. Well the medicine in Brasil and Cuba as well by the way are very developed (belive you or not, anyway) and I belive if anyone needs help you should look for some brazilan doctor opinion cos the success of surgery is all about the quality of the doctors.
    I just gonna leave an expample of one hospital that i found on the internet that have any information about the operation. I’m sorry that its in portuguese.
    I hope have help.

  • Emma

    I have suffered from excessive sweating from the armpits since puberty, i am now 31. Could anyone who has had their sweat glands removed by surgery please give me advice on where i can get information on this procedure. I have also been looking for Anne Schouveller’s web site and can’t seem to find it. It was a relief to discover i am not the only person to suffer from excessive sweating. It is an embarrising condition that has stopped me from socialising and completely crushed my confidence.

  • mm – from north east uk

    hi – i watched the program ‘sweaty betty’ too tonight on channel 5 / fiver – and i am so glad the condition of hyperhydrosis has been recognised and how the program has shown it is a really embarrasing condition!

    i am now 20 years old and mine is heriditary – my mum has it on her feet really bad and on her hands – i however have it under my armpits – badly.

    it started too when i was 14 – i only realised how much of a problem it was when i was about 16 and went to the doctor –

    the woman doctor was nice and suggested the ets surgery but i was made to believe it was keyhole and not a problem!!!

    i have suffered for 6 years but i have made my own help and wanted to share as i dont suffer as badly now as i did at college or school –

    1. – stop wearing clothes that are tight! that is common sense really but i have stopped almost entrely wearing tshirts and now wear vest tops – the kind of colourful ones you can get from new look for £4 and is made entirely of cotton – make sure you buy a size bigger than you are so it isnt tight or stuck to your body – that only helps me – even though i am a slim girl!

    2. – try PERSPIREX not driclor – persipirex has worked wonders for me in the past but make sure you dont shave before or it will sting like hell!! – you put it on, on a night and wash it off on the morning – when i first tried it it would wok for a week! now it works for about 4 days now i am used to it – it is rather expensive – you get a tiny bottle for £7 from BOOTS but it does last you, and you can use it on your hands and feet aswell as armpits.

    be warned – first times you might use it, it might sting like hell and leave a slight rash – but i had sensitive skin so i put up with it and eventually the stinging went away and now i can use it okay!

    3. – avoid wearing tops made from viscose or nylon – AVOID stretch material tops like the kind you get for dirt cheap from H&M.

    4. – try to wear loose jackets – suprising but leather jackets have a cooler effect on me and stop me from sweating so much.

    5. – try to drink juice – it helps me better i dont know why.

    6. – i still get the occasional sweating but not so bad as i was – just make sure you change the kinds of clothes you wear and you might be okay too – it took a lot of trial and error for me but i basically found loose cotton is good to wear – polyester is usually okay too, just avoid stretchy material type clothes and make sure you buy a size bigger. – if i have any material stuck to my armpit i will sweat o try to get sleevless tops, loose jackets, or floating / capped / loose sleeves etc

    its kind of embarrasing so i wont leave my name – but if anyone wants to contact me i have left my email address – hope that might of helped people – i am thankfull i only have it on my armpits and not my entire body – for those people – you have my sympathy.

  • ashdon

    Hi,does any body out there know of any remedys for head sweating??

  • Debbie

    I have suffered from excessive armpit sweating since age 10, I’m now 37.In 2004 I had my first Botox treatment under the NHS which lasted 9 months,the 2nd one (also under the NHS) lasted 1yr. The last one was done privately for £300 and has lasted 14 months and needs to be repeated soon.It may be expensive but it’s worth the money to avoid embarrassment.I can now wear coloured shirts not white or black and feel i can walk around with my hands in the air not flat at my sides.Luckily my husband,2 boys and my friends are very supportive and do not point out my wet armpits!

  • Anonymous

    has anybody bought one of these e-books that are advertised in these web pages, i was tempted but am always sceptical of these things promising an easy cure surely if there was why do our doctors not already have this information to pass on to us….

  • Mary

    Dear Emma

    I had the sweat glands under my arms removed 27 years ago by a surgeon in Harley Street who carried out this type of operation frequently as it is a very common problem. I heard on the television this week that one in ten people suffer with this condition. The surgeon that I used will have retired by now but I would suggest that you go to your doctor and explain the problem that you have and ask to be referred to a surgeon who specialises in this type of surgery. I went privately but I am not sure if you could have it done under the National Health. The surgery was 100% successful and has completely changed my life. Good luck.


  • Frances

    I am so glad i have found this page!!…I have just had an extremely bad day with this condition, and I came home deciding to see what i could find out about it on the net. After reading all of your comments, i feel a little better. Particularly the messages from Georgia, as i too have underactive thyroid and no body temperature control whatsoever…and Andrea, who describes the head, neck, under breasts, lower back sweating etc and it has hindered any social life, and also affects my business life. I run two businesses, one is for energy therapies, massage etc, and i get so totally dripped in sweat during a treatment, that i have had to stop doing them for the time being. The other is a paranormal events business and as that is most busy during the winter months, venues have their heating on so high, that going from freezing cold outside to tropical central heating indoors just fills me with dread, knowing i shall look like i am permanently in a shower. A lady today who saw me in town, looking just like this, looked intently at me and said, ‘oooh you look hot, and i thought it was a bit cooler today’….and it makes you feel as if all eyes are on you…trouble KNOW they are all looking…and telling people you are having a tropical moment, is ok, but doesnt really go half way to help your embarrassment…

  • Kate

    Does anyone have any details of where to get the dermatosuction done? I have tried botox but it didn’t last that long and i was starting to get compensatory sweating so I stopped. Was resigned to having to live like this but now having heard about this surgery there’s a ray of hope.. but I can’t find where it can be done. If you could help that would be amazing, thank you

  • Gillian

    I have suffered with this for years. I am 43 now and it makes me feel so insecure and unclean.

    I have found a great product called Alvin Connor. It’s a natural range of deodrants that stop the smell and staining and reduce the sweating. It’s a bit like a pumice stone that you wet and rub on and it’s amazing. I can now wear silk and more expensive clothes because they do not get ruined. It does not stop the sweat completely but gives you back the confidence because you lose all that sneaky smelling of armpits that you continually do. all smell goes away.

    the product is about £6.99 but it lasts for months. You just make sure you rinse it and pat dry with tissue and it keeps it in top condition.

  • So cool to feel free and smart…

  • Anonymous

    what was the surgery?

  • Anonymous

    i spoke with a doctor today that is willing to remove a lot of skin on my arm pit and he said that not only will it stop the sweating but i wont grow hair there either.does anyone know anything about it possible just by removing the skin its going to stop the sweat glands and they have to grow back sometime right.unless my armpit is going to be one big scar after i dont see that its possible

  • Kudos to sweaty betty! Really good to see another ex-hyperhidrosis sufferer spreading the word on conquering sweaty armpits. Good read!

  • Anonymous

    Could anyone please tell me does sweat gland removal surgery leave unsightly scars?

  • Mary

    The answer to your question about unsightly scars is ‘yes’ but you don’t go around with your arms up in the air all day do you? Nobody has ever mentioned my scars and I would rather have the scars than huge wet patches under my arms 24/7. I’m very particular about my appearance but the scars don’t worry me at all. Good luck, it’s worth it. My operation was a huge success and I have not had a problem from that day to this. The operation has changed my life.

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