Conference Coverage

Expert shares hyperhidrosis treatment pearls



Even though over-the-counter topical antiperspirants are a common go-to treatment for primary axillary hyperhidrosis, a large survey commissioned by the International Hyperhidrosis Society showed that, while OTC aluminum products are the most recommended, they offer the least satisfaction to patients.

Problem with sweating - hyperhidrosis Koldunov/iStock/Getty Images

Of the 1,985 survey respondents who self-identified as having excessive sweating, those who received treatment were most satisfied with injections and least satisfied with prescription and OTC antiperspirants and liposuction. “It’s important to recognize that, while these are not invasive, they’re simple, you need to keep up with it, and they’re really not that effective for primary hyperhidrosis,” Adam Friedman, MD, said during the virtual Orlando Dermatology Aesthetic and Clinical Conference.

A major development came in 2018, when the Food and Drug Administration approved topical glycopyrronium tosylate for the treatment of primary axillary hyperhidrosis in adults and in children as young as age 9. It marked the first topical anticholinergic approved for the condition. Results from the pivotal phase 2 ATMOS-1 and ATMOS-2 randomized, controlled trials found that, after 4 weeks of daily use, 53%-66% of patients reported a 4-point improvement or greater on the ASDD item 2, which is defined as the worst sweating they experienced in a 24-hour period on an 11-point scale.

“Patients want to know: How quickly am I going to see improvement? The answer to this can be central to treatment compliance,” said Dr. Friedman, professor and interim chair of dermatology at the George Washington University, Washington. “We have data showing that 23%-29% of patients using glycopyrronium tosylate met that primary outcome within 1 week of use. So, you can tell patients: ‘Help is on the way. You may see a response relatively soon.’ ”

The most common adverse events in the two trials were dry mouth, which affected 24% of patients, followed by mydriasis (7%), and oropharyngeal pain (6%). He advises patients to apply it once at night. “I tell my patients make this the last thing you do during your nighttime routine,” said Dr. Friedman, who coauthored a case-based clinical algorithm for approaching primary hyperhidrosis patients.

Dr. Adam Friedman, professor and interim chief of dermatology, George Washington University, Washington, DC

Dr. Adam Friedman

“Open it up, one swipe to the right [underarm], flip it over, one wipe of the left [underarm], toss the towelette, and wash your hands thoroughly. You don’t need to remove axillary hair or occlude the area. I tell them they may find some improvement within one week of daily use, but I give realistic expectations, usually 2-3 weeks. Tell them about the potential for side effects, which certainly can happen,” he said.

Investigators are evaluating how this product could be delivered to other body sites. Dr. Friedman said that he uses glycopyrronium tosylate off label for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. He advises patients to rub their hands or feet the cloth until it dries, toss the towelette, apply an occlusive agent like Aquaphor followed by gloves/socks for at least an hour, and then wash their hands or feet. “If they can keep the gloves or socks on overnight, that’s fine, but that’s very rare,” Dr. Friedman added.

“Typically, an hour or 2 of occlusive covering will get the product in where it needs to be. The upside of this product is that it’s noninvasive, there’s minimal irritation, it’s effective, and FDA approved. On the downside, it’s a long-term therapy. This is forever, so cost can be an issue, and you have to think about the anticholinergic effects as well.”

Iontophoresis is a first-line treatment for moderate to severe palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. It’s also effective for mild hyperhidrosis with limited side effects, but it’s cumbersome, he said, requiring thrice-weekly treatment of each palm or sole for approximately 30 minutes to a controlled electric current at 15-20 mA with tap water.

There are no systemic agents approved for hyperhidrosis, only case reports or small case series. For now, the two commonly used anticholinergics are glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin. Glycopyrrolate comes in 1- and 2-mg capsules. “You can break the tablets easily and it’s pretty cheap, with an estimated cost of 2 mg/day at $756 per year,” Dr. Friedman said. “I typically start patients on 1 mg twice per day for a week, then ask how they’re doing. If they notice improvement, have minimal side effects but think they can do better, then I increase it by 1 mg and reassess. I give them autonomy, and at most, want them to max out at 6 mg per day. There is an oral solution for kids, which can make this a little more accessible.”

He prescribes oxybutynin infrequently but considers it effective. “Most patients respond to 5- to 10-mg/day dosing, but doses up to 15 or 20 mg daily may be required,” he noted.

For persistent flushing with hyperhidrosis, Dr. Friedman typically recommends treatment with clonidine. “I start patients pretty low, sometimes 0.05 mg twice per day.”

For patients who sweat because of social phobias and performance anxiety, he typically recommends treatment with a beta-adrenergic blocker. “These are highly lipophilic, so I advise patients not to take them with food,” he said. “The peak concentration is 1-1.5 hours. Usually, I start at 10 mg and I have people do a test run at home. I also take a baseline blood pressure in the office to make sure they’re not hypotensive.” The use of beta-adrenergic blockers is contraindicated in patients with bradycardia, atrioventricular block, and asthma. They can also exacerbate psoriasis.

On Sept. 20, 2020, Brickell Biotech announced the approval of sofpironium bromide gel, 5%, in Japan for the treatment of primary axillary hyperhidrosis. Sofpironium bromide is an analog of glycopyrrolate “that gets metabolized very quickly in order to limit systemic absorption of the active agent and therefore mitigate side effects,” Dr. Friedman said.

A recently published Japanese study found that 54% of patients with primary axillary hyperhidrosis who received sofpironium bromide experienced a 1- or 2-point improvement on the Hyperhidrosis Disease Severity Scale and a 50% or greater reduction in gravimetric sweat production from baseline to week 6 of treatment, compared with 36% of patients in the control group (P = .003). According to Dr. Friedman, a 15% formulation of this product is being studied in the United States, “but the experience in Japan with the 5% formulation should give us some real-world information about this product,” he said. “Out of the gate, we’re going to know something about how it’s being used.”

Dr. Friedman reported that he serves as a consultant and/or advisor to numerous pharmaceutical companies, including some that produce cannabinoids. He is also a speaker for Regeneron, Abbvie, Novartis, LRP, Dermira, and Brickel Biotech, and has received grants from Pfizer, the Dermatology Foundation, Almirall, and Janssen.

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