Sweating is the act of secreting fluid from the skin by the sweat (sudoriferous) glands. These are small tubular glands situated within and under the skin (in the subcutaneous tissue). They discharge by tiny openings in the surface of the skin. Sweating is a normal response that helps regulate body temperature. People sweat more when it's hot outside or when they exercise. Increased sweating can also occur due to emotional states such as anger, fear, nervousness, or embarrassment.
Excessive sweating is referred to as hyperhidrosis, and some people may have a tendency to excessive sweating, known as primary hyperhidrosis. Sweating can also be a symptom of several medical conditions, especially when the sweating is excessive or inappropriate. Many types of infections and cancers are associated with increased sweating that particularly occurs at night. Sweating may accompany hot flashes during the menopausal transition. Damage to the autonomic nerves for any reason, for example, as a result of diabetes, can cause excessive sweating.
Excessive sweating can sometimes be treated with prescription antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride, anticholinergic medications such as glycopyrrolate (Robinul), or with botulinum toxin (Botox) injections.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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