For anyone who doesn’t know, I sweat . . . a lot. I sweat when it’s hot. I sweat when it’s cold. I have to be careful about my wardrobe choices otherwise it’s painfully obvious how much I sweat. I own almost no white or other light colored shirts because I know I’m going to stain them the first time I wear them. (Thank goodness I look good in jewel tones.) I also don’t own silk shirt or any other fabrics that stain easily. I don’t wear women’s cut shirts because the arm holes are cut too close to my armpits so it makes the sweat transfer even more efficient and obvious.
My situation has a fancy name – hyperhidrosis – and technically it’s a condition but I just accept it as a state of being. It’s something I live with and that I’m mindful of.
I’ve learned to keep my right hand in my pocket or pressed against my leg when I’m at networking events so my hand won’t be wet when I go to shake someone’s hand. I know to keep the car’s A/C turned up too high to keep my sweating under control when I’m driving to a business meeting or an important event and to turn the vents in the car towards my hands on the steering wheel so my hands don’t get too slick while I’m driving. I often don’t put on my work shirt until right before I leave the house.
Looking back, I’ve had this for as long as I can remember. I sweat just walking between classes at school (and it wasn’t a big school). In gymnastics, one of my nervous habits was blowing on my hands. I never really had an answer when my teammates asked why I did that, but I’m pretty sure I was trying to keep my hands dry.
People with hyperhidrosis can get Botox in their armpits, but this is only a temporary fix. I can think of better ways to spend up to $3000/year. It’s cheaper to use a men’s unscented antiperspirant (it works better) and buy new shirts.
I got one suggestion on how to deal with hyperhidrosis in professional settings that made a lot of sense. Katy Goshtasbi suggested I invest in some plain dri-fit shirts and wear them under my professional clothes. This is a great suggestion when I wear sweaters and oxford shirts, but it probably won’t work for other fashion tops. I have my eyes peeled for a close fitting men’s dri-fit shirt. Women’s shirts tend to have cap sleeves, which means the sleeves are not long enough to stop all the sweat. I learned that the hard way when I tried layering a simple white shirt under a dress shirt before an important interview. Thank goodness for jackets.
If you sweat like I do, just know that you’re not alone. I know others have it worse than me and I’m lucky that this is only a big deal if I let it be.