Background: Treatment of primary focal hyperhidrosis is often unsatisfactory. Botulinum toxin A can stop excessive sweating by blocking the release of acetylcholine, which mediates sympathetic neurotransmission in the sweat glands.
Methods: We conducted a multicenter trial of botulinum toxin A in 145 patients with axillary hyperhidrosis. The patients had rates of sweat production greater than 50 mg per minute and had had primary axillary hyperhidrosis that was unresponsive to topical therapy with aluminum chloride for more than one year. In each patient, botulinum toxin A (200 U) was injected into one axilla, and placebo was injected into the other in a randomized, double-blind manner. (The units of the botulinum toxin A preparation used in this study are not identical to those of other preparations.) Two weeks later, after the treatments were revealed, the axilla that had received placebo was injected with 100 U of botulinum toxin A. Changes in the rates of sweat production were measured by gravimetry.
Results: At base line, the mean (+/-SD) rate of sweat production was 192+/-136 mg per minute. Two weeks after the first injections the mean rate of sweat production in the axilla that received botulinum toxin A was 24+/-27 mg per minute, as compared with 144+/-113 mg per minute in the axilla that received placebo (P< 0.001). Injection of 100 U into the axilla that had been treated with placebo reduced the mean rate of sweat production in that axilla to 32+/-39 mg per minute (P<0.001). Twenty-four weeks after the injection of 100 U, the rates of sweat production (in the 136 patients in whom the rates were measured at that time) were still lower than base-line values, at 67+/-66 mg per minute in the axilla that received 200 U and 65+/-64 mg per minute in the axilla that received placebo and 100 U of the toxin. Treatment was well tolerated; 98 percent of the patients said they would recommend this therapy to others.
Conclusions: Intradermal injection of botulinum toxin A is an effective and safe therapy for severe axillary hyperhidrosis.