Kristen lives with a rarely talked about disease called hyperhidrosis, which causes excessive sweating from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to bed. This includes the usual spots people sweat such as under arms or the low back, but also places you wouldn’t expect such as her hands, feet and face. From a young age Kristen knew there was something different about her body. She remembers carrying around a purse full of tissues as a kid, wearing mittens to soak up sweat in class, and slipping off the monkey bars because of wet palms. She was officially diagnosed with hyperhidrosis at 14 from a dermatologist who had barely heard of the disease, offering very little in guidance or answers. It would be a long, lonely road for Kristen to teach herself how to manage this disease, and finally learn to accept it as an indivisible part of her.
In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Kristen discusses her journey with hyperhidrosis while sharing tips and tricks to live with excessive sweating. She had to become her own researcher, advocate and cheerleader, and has amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding this disease. She describes using an iontophoresis machine which literally shocks her hands while submerged in water, providing temporary relief from symptoms. Doctors don’t even understand why this process is helpful, as the biological mechanism behind hyperhidrosis is not currently understood. Throughout her childhood Kristen was accused of causing her symptoms by being anxious, when in fact it was her poorly understood disease causing anxiety and shame. She learned to hide her symptoms so well that people around her had no idea what she was going through. Starting therapy 6 years ago proved to be a massive turning point, giving her a voice to tell the people around her what she had been living with all her life. Kristen has collected what she’s learned at howtohyperhidrosis.com, creating a library of resources for fellow patients seeking help. Finally opening up about her disease has been intensely healing, not only to help minimize the emotional toll of constantly hiding, but to ease the journey of other hyperhidrosis patients with her public activism.
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