This blog post features Molly Nair, a young woman living with hyperhidrosis. November is Hyperhidrosis Awareness Month and Ms. Nair shares how this condition has affected her life since she was in elementary school. She details what it is like to live with hyperhidrosis, the obstacles she has faced because of it, and how she continues to succeed despite the challenges it presents.
Hyperhidrosis: More Than Just Sweating
By Meagan Nair
Molly Nair is a successful 28-year-old woman who has managed a retail store, earned a degree in business management from Fairmont State University and is currently working on a master’s degree in human resources from West Virginia University. Almost nothing holds Molly back from achieving her goals and living a full and happy life despite having a condition that affects her day-to-day life in ways that most people would never suspect.
Molly is one of 7.8 million people who suffer from hyperhidrosis, a medical condition characterized by excessive sweating in the armpits, palms, soles of the feet, face, scalp, and torso. She knows all too well that hyperhidrosis is more than just about sweat; it’s about all the large and small ways that it affects her life physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and professionally.
Molly was first aware that something was different with her hands and feet around the age of 9 or 10 when school work became more intensive with writing assignments and test taking. For most students, sitting at a desk and completing assignments on notebook paper is a basic task; however, Molly noticed quickly that her paper would soak through from the sweat on her palms and the pencil often slipped from her grasp. To remedy this, Molly put an extra piece of paper under her hand to act as a barrier, but this raised questions from classmates sitting near her.
As Molly established friendships in school, the reminder that she was different was amplified as the pre-teens began to compare their bodies to their peers. “As I interacted more with my friends, I realized their hands and feet were not sweaty like mine. Giving high fives was a nightmare. They teased me about the sweat, making remarks that it was gross, and I should just keep my hands to myself.” Although Molly was very active in sports throughout school, she held back in giving congratulatory high fives or handshakes as the words of her peers echoed in her mind.
Although dating is a rite of passage for teenagers, Molly was not excited for dates and boyfriends due to the inevitable first step of handholding. She feared what her date’s reaction would be when he reached to hold her hand and was met with a clammy, sweaty palm. “If I thought (the boy) was going to try to hold my hand, I quickly wiped it on my jeans to minimize the sweat.” Fortunately, since those early dating days, Molly has met “an amazing guy who understands the condition and is not bothered by it.”
Wearing stylish shoes is another challenging issue for Molly. Most sandals cause her feet to sweat even more. She has to be aware of the material the sandal is made from and the type of insole, otherwise her feet sweat more, and walking is difficult. Her feet can slide right out of some sandals due to the excessive perspiration.
Attending graduate school has only amplified Molly’s self-consciousnesses about hyperhidrosis. She is attending networking events, where there is a lot of handshaking, in hopes of landing an internship. Shaking hands is Molly’s biggest obstacle given that her hands are sweaty 90 percent of the time. A moment of dread washes over her as each potential employer reaches to grasp her hand. She can only hope they are not disgusted by the sweat and fears they will perceive her as a very nervous and anxious person and thus be less inclined to offer her an internship.
Treatments for hyperhidrosis range from topical creams to more invasive treatments such as injections or sweat gland removal. Molly has found some relief from various creams, but also notes they can dry out the skin on her hands and cause cracking and irritation.
Molly knows that she does not suffer alone and understands that hyperhidrosis is not generally understood by the public. It has taken Molly years to accept herself and her sweaty palms and feet, and she encourages others with hyperhidrosis to do their research and find treatments that best fit their lives. She also pleads for people suffering from hyperhidrosis to not feel ashamed. “It is just a part of who they are,” says Molly. “And like with so many things, when you have the right people in your life, you are loved and accepted no matter what.”
Thank you, Molly, for allowing us to share your inspiring story.
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