Hyperhidrosis and Poling

I have a medical condition called Hyperhidrosis, which makes me sweat from my hands and feet excessively and often, sometimes without any reason at all.  I’ve had it since birth, but it was never that bad. So my hands get wet without a warning and it might be embarrassing to shake hands with somebody, no biggie. Other than these infrequent incidents I didn’t give it much of a thought.

Solution #0 Power Though it

When I first started pole dancing, I quickly learned that I sweat too much to just brave it. My instructor said that over time my skin will get used to this and will stop, but that never happened to me. She said to keep the pole clean, and I found myself wiping it off after every single time I attempted a move. It did not help much, and I still needed a better grip.

Solution #1 Grip Aids

I didn’t take long to discover the wonderful world of grip aids. There was the magnesium powder that my instructor kept in the studio which I kept going back to during class. It helped, very temporarily though, and I almost single-handedly diminished it. I started investigating what else the big world has to offer and learned along the way that not all grip aids were created equal. Some literally enhance the grip, like the Mighty Grip powder that my hands sweated off a moment after I put it on. Some are antiperspirants, which make you grip better by cutting the sweat down. I chose Tite Grip, which is one of the latter, but my hands chose to ignore it. Unlike all the other girls around me, Tite Grip made my hand dry… for less than a minute.

Solution #2 Gloves

After the grip aids failed me during my first months of training, I resorted to The Mighty Grip Gloves with tack. They gripped the chrome poles in my studio very nicely. Although I felt like my hands were sliding inside of them, they were secure and I never had an incident with them. I tried to do as much as I could without them, since once I put them on my hands would sweat uncontrollably and I had no change of doing anything if I took them off again. Some days, my hands sweated right though the gloves.

The gloves gave me undeniable results, moves became possible and I progressed amazingly. The only issue was that I lost all grip on my skin. I did not trust my bare hands anymore to hold me, and it’s not a good state to be in as an advanced pole dancer. I also pretty much gave up on spins, since gloves and sliding does not mix well. I used my gloves so much I tore holes in the tacky part and had them replaced within months.

Solution #3 Ecoball

I did not like being so dependent on gloves and tried to wean off them. It was a hard transition back, as I was simply scared to do moves and I had no way to cut down the sweat. I tried some more antiperspirants like Dry Hands and Dirty Girl Poletice, but nothing stopped my hands from sweating for longer than a minute, if at all. A fellow poler introduced me to the eco ball, a cotton ball full of chalk powder which transfers to your hands when you squeeze it. It had the same effect, it would absorb the sweat for long enough for me to get on the pole for a move. It was better than nothing, and better than the gloves.

Solution #4 Acupuncture

After I ditched the gloves I got attached to the eco ball. I had to squash it whenever I wasn’t on the pole, and spent as much time on the pole as I was with my hands in the sack. It went on for many good months because it worked for me. It worked. but only until I had to pass on my first opportunity to compete nationally. Training wise I was really strong and advanced, but I was just unable to do more than one transition before I had to get down, wipe the pole and chalk my hands. I didn’t feel ready to do an entire routine to a 3-4 minute long song, when I never did anything longer than half a minute on the pole in my life. When I went to watch the competition, I realized that I was easily on par with the winners in the amateur division I would have run for. If only my hands didn’t sweat so much.

I decided to take a tip from an instructor I met once, which suggested acupuncture. I never believed in this, and kind of didn’t think much of it. I just thought I had nothing to lose and it’s worth a shot. It’s still better than a surgery, which I’ll never do. I started weekly acupuncture treatments, enjoying the benefit of the doubt. After quite a few weeks, my sweating decreased. It almost decreased to manageable level actually. For a moment I didn’t trust that strengthening my kidneys and heart by laying with needles stuck in my arms and legs will help, but it did. It also help some sleeping problems I had, which, in the traditional Chinese medicine, are connected to excess sweating.

I had to stop the treatments due to life circumstances, and after a few months the sweating kicked right back in. It was worse than ever, and I started them again in a new clinic. My new acupuncturist said that her goal is no never see me again, and space the treatment more and more until my body is able to regulate itself. I’m still not there, but I’m hopeful.

Solution #4 Surgey

There is a surgery that destroys the sweat buds on the hands. I have heard that the body re-balances it by activating new sweat buds on a different body part. I’m not even sure if it’s true, but surgery is probably not something I’ll ever do to myself, I’d rather just keep with want currently works for me, and redirecting the sweat to a surprise body part will not make things much better. What if it’s now my inner thighs that sweat uncontrollably, everywhere, at any time?

There’s also the iontophoresis machine and the botox options I didn’t explore. It’s just other desperate options to keep up my sleeve, though I hope I won’t need them.

What Works for Me Now

So until that happens this is what works for me. I put Tite Grip at the beginning of class, and after it dries I chalk any sweat remnants. I noticed that it’s more manageable to keep the sweat at zero rather than let my hands sweat during downtime and clean it off later. I wipe the pole before and after every time I touch it, and then chalk my hands if they get the slightest hint of moisture. I do acupuncture treatments, which definitely started to make the difference. I’m trying to cut down on the chalk use, though at this point it is physiologically hard.

Looking forward to dancing full length routines.