Hyperhidrosis

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Learn about the various ways to treat excessive perspiration, or hyperhidrosis.

Hyperhidrosis Surgery

Other Treatments for Excessive Sweating

Surgical sympathectomy is the specialized, permanent nerve cutting, or destruction surgery performed to help decrease some types of sweating. It does not work for all types of excess sweating or for all areas of the body. Consultation with a specialized thoracic surgeon is required and overall, surgery is usually reserved for severe or resistant cases because of potentially serious side effects.

Hyperhidrosis facts

  • Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a common disorder.
  • It can be localized to a particular anatomical area or may be diffuse, involving much of the skin.
  • Axillary hyperhidrosis is excess sweating of the underarms.
  • Palmoplantar hyperhidrosis is excess sweating of the palms and soles.
  • Hyperhidrosis usually occurs in people who are otherwise healthy.
  • The approach to treating hyperhidrosis generally proceeds from over-the-counter (OTC) antiperspirants to prescription antiperspirants, anticholinergic medicines, iontophoresis, microwave destruction of sweat glands, Botox injections, and occasionally surgery.

What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a common disorder that produces a lot of embarrassment and unhappiness. Primary hyperhidrosis occurs in otherwise healthy individuals. Secondary hyperhidrosis is much less common and can be due to certain drugs, a variety of serious systemic diseases, neurological disorders, facial surgery, and anxiety. Of the approximately 3% of Americans who suffer from excessive sweating, fully 50% involve the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis). Underarm problems tend to start around puberty, while palm and sole sweating may begin earlier, often during childhood. Untreated, these problems may continue throughout life.

Sweating is embarrassing, stains clothes, and may complicate business and social interactions. Excessive sweat can have serious practical consequences, like making it difficult to hold a pen, grip a steering wheel, or shake hands.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2017

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