What Is Hyperhidrosis? Breaking Down Excessive Sweating
Profuse sweating can control your life. You may try to cover up the pool of sweat forming on your palms or underarms — or avoid going out altogether. But excessive sweating can also be a medical condition, and solutions are within reach.
Answering the question: "What is hyperhidrosis?" will help you uncover whether you suffer from a medical condition or just experience situational sweating.
What Is Hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes you to sweat beyond a level that's physiologically necessary to regulate body temperature. Your body needs to sweat to cool down and prevent overheating. But people with hyperhidrosis sweat regardless of their mood or their external temperature.
The condition affects people of all races and ages, but for many, hyperhidrosis begins as a child or teenager.
Hyperhidrosis symptoms include:
- Noticeable sweating that soaks through your clothing
- Clammy or wet palms of the hands
- Clammy or wet soles of the feet
- Frequent or persistent sweating
Although hyperhidrosis isn't a life-threatening ailment, constantly worrying about sweat can produce psychological, emotional and social effects.
What Are the Side Effects of Hyperhidrosis?
Many people who experience constant, intense sweating must cope with embarrassment, frustration and stress. Hyperhidrosis can stain your clothes, complicate your relationships and prevent you from excelling in your career.
Other hyperhidrosis side effects include:
- Irritating and painful skin problems
- Fungal and bacterial infections, such as athlete’s foot or jock itch
- Reduced self-confidence
- Fear of social situations
- Loss of concentration at work or school
If you have hyperhidrosis, you may try to hide signs of sweat with layers of clothing or by avoiding going out in public. When sweating profusely, you could also face a tirade of questions like, "Are you OK?" because people think you're nervous or ill.
How Common Is Hyperhidrosis?
When dealing with heavy sweat, you might feel alone. However, excessive sweating is actually quite common.
One study found that nearly 5 percent of the population suffers from hyperhidrosis, though many more also experience situational sweating. Because many people don't realize hyperhidrosis is a medical condition (or are too embarrassed to address the issue), they never see a doctor.
In fact, less than 40 percent of people with hyperhidrosis seek medical advice for their condition.
As a result, dermatologists believe more children and adolescents have hyperhidrosis than are diagnosed.
Types of Hyperhidrosis
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are two types of hyperhidrosis:
- Primary hyperhidrosis
- Secondary hyperhidrosis
People with primary hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweating in one area — most commonly the underarms, hands, feet and forehead. The condition affects both sides of the body (whether the underarms, feet or hands).
Primary hyperhidrosis is more pervasive than secondary hyperhidrosis, usually beginning at puberty. Some people with primary hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweat at least once a week, but most experience it daily.
You might be wondering: What causes hyperhidrosis? Unlike secondary hyperhidrosis, primary hyperhidrosis isn't linked to other medical conditions or medications. Instead, genetics play a role. Any healthy person could suffer from excessive sweat, especially if the condition runs in his/her family.
Here are some commonly affected areas of the body:
- Underarms: Axillary hyperhidrosis
- Hands: Palmer hyperhidrosis
- Feet: Planter hyperhidrosis
- Head/Face: Cranial hyperhidrosis
- Groin: Inguinal hyperhidrosis
- Torso: Truncal hyperhidrosis
- Compensatory Hyperhidrosis (CS): Also known as rebound hyperhidrosis or reflex hyperhidrosis, CS is the most common side effect of endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS), a surgery to treat severe hyperhidrosis.
Secondary hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating that has an underlying cause — either a medical condition or side effect of taking a medication. People with secondary hyperhidrosis sweat excessively across their body, usually beginning during adulthood.
Here are some medical conditions that can cause excessive sweating:
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Medications that can lead to secondary hyperhidrosis include:
- Antidepressants including Norpramin, Pamelor and Protriptyline
- Iron and zinc supplements
- Pilocarpine for dry mouth
As with any medical condition, it's best to seek the advice of a qualified doctor if you suspect you have secondary hyperhidrosis.
You can't cure hyperhidrosis, but many people don't realize that hyperhidrosis is a treatable medical condition.
Here are some products to help you treat hyperhidrosis:
- Antiperspirants: Containing the active ingredient aluminum, antiperspirant plugs sweat ducts and blocks them from producing sweat.
- Drysol, a prescription antiperspirant with a higher concentration of aluminum
- Sweat proof clothing, like the Thompson Tee
- Oral medications including anticholinergics and beta blockers
- Botox injections in the underarms
- Iontophoresis, a noninvasive medical treatment that uses a mild electrical current to reduce sweating
- Hyperhidrosis surgery, an invasive and expensive procedure that involves interrupting the transmission of nerve signals between the spinal column and sweat glands
Depending on your budget, health history and the severity of your sweating problem, you can choose from hyperhidrosis treatments that range from natural remedies to irreversible surgery.
Avoid the Anxiety and Embarrassment of Sweating
All types of hyperhidrosis cause feelings of anxiety and embarrassment.
Students often avoid raising their hand during class. Many teens never date. Adults hide the sweat stains beneath layers of clothing or change frequently throughout the day.
But you can live freely with hyperhidrosis.
Our sweat proof undershirts completely absorb even the heaviest underarm sweat, so perspiration never reaches your outer layer.
Try one risk free today and get your confidence back!