We all sweat. It’s totally normal. But that doesn’t stop us from feeling embarrassed when we notice sweat patches on a shirt or feel droplets on our upper lip.
So imagine what it’s like to sweat constantly, no matter how cold it is. Imagine having no way to hide your sweat and feeling it form puddles around your feet.
That’s the reality for Lydia Carroll, 32, who suffers from hyperhidrosis.
Lydia’s condition causes her to sweat uncontrollably from her hands and feed, even when it’s freezing cold.
She was diagnosed with hyperhidrosis when she was 16, having experienced profuse sweating ever since she was a baby.
‘As a baby, I’d be in my bouncer and sweat would be dripping off my feet onto the floor,’ says Lydia.
‘When I was young, I didn’t care what people thought but, as a teen, I grew more and more self-conscious.’
At 16 Lydia broke down and asked her parents what was wrong with her, at which point they took her to the GP.
Lydia is now more comfortable with her sweating, but says it does dent her self-confidence. She also admits that her excessive sweating has had an impact on her dating life.
‘I’m happily single at the moment, but it does make dating hard,’ she explains.
‘I’ve accepted my condition and feel confident in myself, but it’s always a struggle to decide how to bring it up to men. It’s not something you just blurt out.
‘I play it all by ear and go on how comfortable I feel. Thankfully, I’ve never had any negativity from men – though often they don’t understand quite how much I sweat.
‘If somebody was to be judgemental and nasty, though, then they wouldn’t be the one for me anyway.’
Good point – that’s a pretty good way to test if the person you’re dating is worth your time.
‘I worried about boys thinking I was disgusting,’ adds Lydia.
‘I remember one boy turning around to talk to me on the school bus. I tried to hide my hands from him, as I could feel them sweating, and by the time he got off there was literally a puddle on the vinyl seat underneath them.’
There’s no obvious trigger for her condition, so Lydia has to be on constant alert for a sudden flare-up. She only wears certain fabrics, such as cotton or denim, as anything non-absorbent would leave her drenched, and she can’t wear strappy shoes as her feet will slide around in their puddles of sweat.
Stressful situations such as job interviews cause even more anxiety, as Lydia worries how her sweating will be perceived.
‘It’s really hard to make an impression, before my condition kicks in and takes over,’ says Lydia.
‘The difficulty is, it’s not just sweaty palms. I get beads running down the tops and sides of my hands and feet.
‘It really affects what I can wear. For example, I can’t wear strappy shoes, as my feet get too wet and I slide around in them. Once, I even ended up breaking a pair.
‘I get really anxious if I don’t have something with me that’ll help, like a fan or towel. Mercifully, I have no issues with body odour.’
She’s tried all the specialist lotions and antiperspirants, but nothing has worked.
Lydia is now focusing on embracing and normalising her sweat, sharing her story on Instagram with the hashtag #normalisesweating.
‘The gym is the one place on earth where it’s acceptable to be sweaty,’ says Lydia. ‘There, I don’t stand out – I just look like I’ve had a good work out.
‘I love weightlifting the most, even though hyperhidrosis sometimes means I struggle to grip the bars.
‘I’m excited to see if there is a cure in the future.
‘For now, I wish people would stop expecting perfection from each other, then people like me wouldn’t feel as if we have to hide.’