- Why Do You Sweat?
- What Is
- Complications and Side Effects
Why do you sweat?
When life turns up the heat, your body responds by sweating. Perspiring keeps you cool and helps maintain your internal temperature. Many things will make you sweat, like a hot summer day, an intense exercise class or an important job interview.
What is hyperhidrosis?
- Breasts (underneath)
- Face (persistent blushing)
When your hands and feet are involved, hyperhidrosis may cause your skin to become pink or slightly blue. Your skin texture changes too, becoming unusually soft, scaly or cracked. This is especially common on the soles of your feet.
Hyperhidrosis is a common medical issue that occurs in otherwise healthy people. However, if left untreated, this condition may affect your quality of life.
Symptoms of hyperhidrosis
Certain situations or substances can overstimulate your nervous system. These can cause excessive sweating, and include:
Types of hyperhidrosis
There are two types of hyperhidrosis:
- Primary focal hyperhidrosis: This refers to excessive sweating as a standalone medical condition. If you have primary focal hyperhidrosis, you'll experience sweating on specific parts of your body known as focal areas. The most common focal areas are sweaty hands, feet, underarms, face or head. The sweating is usually symmetric, which means it affects both sides of your body.
- Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis: This type of hyperhidrosis is secondary. This means that your excessive sweating results from a primary medical condition like diabetes or a medication’s side-effect. Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is not as common. It occurs more often in adults than children or teenagers. People with this condition tend to experience excessive general sweating all over. They often sweat while sleeping.
Diagnosis for hyperhidrosis
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose hyperhidrosis. If you suspect that you have it, see a dermatologist. Expect a full physical exam, which includes the areas of your body that sweat excessively. Be prepared to answer specific questions about your lifestyle, medical conditions and family history.
You may also undergo a medical test called a sweat test. The dermatologist will apply a powder to your skin that turns purple when it gets wet. If you have an underlying illness that’s causing your hyperhidrosis, an accurate diagnosis may involve additional tests.
Treatments for hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis is treatable and most people experience significant improvement. The type of treatment you receive depends on where you're experiencing excessive sweating as well as your overall health. Treatment options include prescription drying medications, injections and surgery.
- Antiperspirants: This is often the first step in treating hyperhidrosis. It’s affordable, effective and available in regular or clinical-strength. Antiperspirants are applied directly to your skin, on the underarms, hands, feet or hairline. When you start to sweat, the substance is pulled into your sweat glands, creating a plug. The body senses this and signals your glands to stop producing excess sweat.
- Iontophoresis: Often called the “no-sweat machine,” this medical device uses electricity to temporarily shut your sweat glands down. This treatment can be done at home and requires placing your hands or feet into a shallow bowl of tap water. The device then sends a low-voltage current through the water. Iontophoresis is effective but can be time-consuming. You’ll need between six to 10 treatments to notice an improvement. Each session lasts between 20 and 40 minutes.
- Botulinum toxin injections (Botox): Botox is usually associated with wrinkles, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Botox as a treatment for underarm sweating. Your dermatologist will inject tiny amounts of this medicine into different areas of your armpits. Botox temporarily blocks a chemical in your body that stimulates the sweat glands. The treatment usually takes four or five days to work and lasts between four to six months.
- Prescription cloth wipes: These individually wrapped cloths contain glycopyrronium tosylate, a substance proven to reduce underarm sweating. You’ll use one wipe per day, applying it to both underarms.
- Prescription medications: Certain oral medicines prevent your sweat glands from working. They’re used to treat excessive sweating all over the body.
Sometimes non-surgical options don’t work well enough to control your hyperhidrosis. In some cases they don’t work at all. The next step is typically a surgical procedure. There are two surgeries to treat hyperhidrosis:
- Sweat gland removal: A dermatologist will use surgical techniques to remove sweat glands from your underarms. These may include lasers, liposuction or excision. This procedure can be done in your doctor’s office. The treated area is numbed, but you'll be awake during the procedure.
- Sympathectomy: This is major surgery and is performed in an operating room. The surgeon inserts a mini surgical camera into your chest just under your armpit. They then cut and destroy certain nerves to stop the nerve signals that your body sends to your sweat glands. During a sympathectomy, one lung will be temporarily collapsed.
Possible complications and side effects
Surgical treatments like sweat gland removal can lead to infections. You may experience soreness or bruising. Permanent side effects include a loss of feeling in your armpits. Scarring is also possible.
New endoscopic techniques have made sympathectomy surgery safer, but there are still some risks. Some people will actually sweat more after the procedure. This is called compensatory sweating.
Other side effects include damage to the nerves that run between the brain and the eyes, irregular heartbeat and extremely low blood pressure.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "HYPERHIDROSIS: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT."
International Hyperhidrosis Society: "Two Types of Hyperhidrosis."
National Organization for Rare Disorders: "Hyperhidrosis, Primary."
Top What is the Best Treatment for Hyperhidrosis Related Articles
Caffeine: 9 Health Benefits When You Give Up CaffeineWhat would happen if you gave up caffeine? Find out what health benefits could be in store for your body and mind.
Anxiety, Stress, and WorryWant to find ways to reduce anxiety, stress, and worry? Find treatments to ease stress, eliminate worry, and combat anxiety as you discover how stress affects your body. Learn whether stress fights colds or encourages them, why some stress is bad and some is good, and why exercise and diet can be relaxing.
Caffeine QuizIf you can't function without your morning cup of java or your afternoon caffeine jolt, this quiz is for you. Learn about your caffeine addiction with the Caffeine Quiz.
How Do I Know if I Have Hyperhidrosis?If you find yourself sweating excessively even when you're not very hot, you may have hyperhidrosis. This condition affects about 3% of the world population'. People with hyperhidrosis tend to sweat when they're at rest and not exerting themselves.
Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the underarms, palms, or soles of the feet. Treatment may involve over-the-counter antiperspirants, prescription antiperspirants, iontophoresis, medications, surgery, and Botox.
Hyperhidrosis TestHyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a common disorder that produces a lot of unhappiness. An estimated 2%-3% of Americans suffer from excessive sweating of the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis) or of the palms and soles of the feet (palmoplantar 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. Pictured is an example of the starch-iodine test in the left axilla. Mote the prominent dark blue-black discoloration at sites of hyperhidrosis.
Sweating (Hidrosis) SlideshowWhat makes you sweat (hidrosis)? Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) has many potential causes, including spicy food, smoking, drinking, hot flashes, anger, stress, anxiety, falling in love, and exercise. Learn why we sweat, how the body perspires, tips to control sweating, and more.
NicotineNicotine is delivered to the brain through smoking, chewing, or sniffing tobacco. Nicotine is an addictive agent. Common names for nicotine products include smokes, cigs, butts, chew, dip, spit, or snuff. Habitual nicotine use leads to many debilitating medical conditions.
Sweating QuizWhat is the medical term for excessive sweating? Take the Sweating (Perspiration) Quiz to learn the benefits of sweating. Yes, there are benefits!
What Are the Symptoms of Chromidrosis?Chromidrosis is a rare, but chronic condition that causes a person to have colorful sweat. The most obvious symptom of chromidrosis is sweating colored sweat. Other symptoms include prickly sensations and worse sweating with stress or excitement.
What Does Anxiety Do to Your Body?It increases a person’s chances of suffering from other medical conditions, such as heart diseases, raised blood pressure, high cholesterol obesity, depression and diabetes. In short term, anxiety may cause sleep disturbances and poor work performance.
What Happens During an Anxiety Attack?Anxiety can occur during everyday life, it could be fleeting or it could persist and build. But if you have an anxiety disorder, you may feel your anxiety or panic overwhelm you with intense anxiety and fear.