Dehradun: For three years, a 19-year-old boy from a village in Uttarakhand had been struggling with the simplest tasks — writing, holding a bat, riding a bike. All because his palms would sweat, excessively, to a point that he could barely have a grip over anything. When it seemed he might lose his chance at becoming an IAF airman because of this, he was shattered. That’s when doctors at the Government Doon Medical College (GDMC) came up with a solution — Botox.
The use of Botox to treat excessive perspiration has been found effective before, and has been in use in urban India. With this, the IAF aspirant will now be able to take another shot at his medical test, scheduled later this month.
It was during his half-yearly exams in Class XI that he noticed the problem for the first time. His palm was getting so sweaty he could not hold the pen and the writing kept getting smudged — in the chilling December of Uttarakhand. At the time, he was a year into preparing for the IAF. After Class X, he had moved to Dehradun for a BSc degree and to take coaching. His elder brother, also a college student, is preparing to get into the Army. The village they come from is one where at least one person in every family is engaged with the defence forces.
He passed the written exam, the physical exam and the interview. Things were looking up. But he stumbled during the medical exam — he could not hold on to a pipe he was asked to climb or do pushups. He was asked to reappear. This was in February.
He rushed to the GDMC to look for a solution. Doctors ran tests for everything from blood sugar to thyroid and blood pressure, but found no answer. “Initially, we prescribed medicines to control the sweating. But after taking medicines for 10 days, he told us about his medical exam and requested something that is immediately effective,” said Dr Shruti Barnwal, head of the department, dermatology, at GDMC. That’s when they turned to Botox. “It is common in India, but is known as a beauty treatment. But Botox injections have botulinum toxin, which blocks nerve signals responsible for sweating,” said Dr Bhavya Sangal, who attended to him.
But it would have been expensive — the treatment costs between Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000 — for the son of a small private firm employee. The doctors decided to help. They didn’t charge any fees, got the syringe at a subsidised rate and procured the Botox from a dealer at a wholesale price of Rs 18,000, less than half of what he would have had to pay. The procedure took about 40 minutes. Sangal said, “He is now ready for his second medical test.”