Hyperhidrosis is a condition that leads to excessive sweating that is not associated with exercising or heat.
Research says that nearly 4.8% of Americans have this condition. However, this figure might not be the exact count. It is likely to be underreported. One of the main reasons most people with hyperhidrosis do not seek medical help is because they do not understand that they have a curable health condition.
More about Hyperhidrosis
Your body sweats to cool itself down. In hyperhidrosis, there is excessive sweating, leading to a sweaty body, sweaty palms, and clothes drenched in sweat. It primarily involves the extremities, along with your underarms and face. The condition hinders day-to-day activities and is a reason for social anxiety and embarrassment.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis conditions, primary and secondary. While the causes of the former are not yet known and often attributed to genes, the underlying causes of the latter may include thyroid, diabetes, and heart attack.
What are the symptoms of Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating can be due to intensive work-out sessions, playing under the sun, or stress and anxiety. However, excessive sweating in Hyperhidrosis is different. Some severe symptoms of Hyperhidrosis that require immediate medical attention are –
● If sweating is disrupting your normal daily activities.
● Emotional distress and social withdrawal due to excessive sweating.
● When sweating exceeds the normal sweating of an individual.
● If you are experiencing night sweats due to no definitive cause.
Hyperhidrosis can occur due to underlying diseases causing you to sweat all over your body. Consult your doctor immediately if you witness any symptoms, as mentioned above.
What are the causes of Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating of a human body is a normal biological process that occurs to cool you down. As soon as your body temperature increases, your nervous system activates the sweat glands. Sweat in the palm is seen during tense situations too. The two types of Hyperhidrosis are caused due to different underlying disorders. They are as follows –
1. Primary focal Hyperhidrosis
Primary focal Hyperhidrosis does not occur due to any significant underlying disease. A hereditary component might be responsible for this condition. This type of Hyperhidrosis occurs due to the overactivity of nerves that signal your sweat glands. This does not happen due to a rise in body temperature or any physical activity. The situation worsens with stress and nervousness. This leads to sweat in the palm, soles, and on the face, too, in some cases.
2. Secondary hyperhidrosis
Secondary Hyperhidrosis occurs when there is an underlying medical condition. It is uncommon and more likely to affect your entire body. The medical conditions are as follows:
● Low blood sugar (Hypoglycaemia)
● Menopausal hot flashes
● Some types of cancer
● Thyroid problems
● Disorders of the nervous system
What are the complications of Hyperhidrosis?
Complications of Hyperhidrosis are not considered as medically severe but can cause psychological distress. The most common complications of Hyperhidrosis are as follows:
1. Emotional and social distress
People suffering from excessive sweating tend to get embarrassed in crowds or any other social opportunities. They try to avoid these situations as much as possible. It also affects their romantic relationships.
2. Fungal skin infections
Excessively sweating skin is prone to more skin infections than normal skin . Jock itch athlete’s foot and other fungal infections may occur as these organisms thrive and grow in moist environments.
3. Bacterial infections
Heavy sweating can lead to bacterial and viral skin infections as well.
A foul smell (odor) from the body when bacteria comes in contact with sweat is known as bromhidrosis. This primarily occurs in underarms, genitals, toes, and feet.
What is the treatment for patients with Hyperhidrosis?
Your doctor will diagnose your problem of excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis) by taking your medical history, physical examinations, and further lab tests to identify the condition’s underlying cause.
Lab tests like blood and urine tests are conducted to evaluate the medical conditions causing Hyperhidrosis. Sweat tests like iodine-starch test, thermoregulatory sweat test, and skin conductance tests are done to estimate the severity of your Hyperhidrosis.
Your doctor will treat the underlying medical condition (if present) that is causing the problem. In case of no such medical condition, they will focus on controlling your excessive sweating and relieve its symptoms.
Medication for Hyperhidrosis
Some medications that your doctor can prescribe are –
● Antiperspirant with aluminum chloride – These are to be applied to the affected skin before going to bed.
● Glycopyrrolate creams – These creams are effective in treating Hyperhidrosis on the face and head.
● Nerve-blocking drugs – Common side effects include blurry vision, dryness in the mouth, and urinary bladder problems.
● Antidepressants – help battle with depression due to the disease.
● Botulinum toxin injections are used to block the nerves causing sweating temporarily. The effect of this treatment lasts for around 6-12 months.
Surgery for Hyperhidrosis
Surgical procedures might be seen as an option in severe cases of Hyperhidrosis. The treatment includes –
● Microwave therapy – This therapy focuses on destroying the sweat glands. It can cause alterations in skin sensations, along with some discomfort.
- Photodynamic therapy – The photodynamic therapy is a three-step therapy that helps reduce the severity of hyperhidrosis.
● Sweat gland removal – Removing sweat glands from the area of excessive sweating like armpits might help.
● Sympathectomy – Your surgeon will cut, burn, or clamp the nerves controlling sweat in your hands.
Coping with Hyperhidrosis
Follow these precautionary and preventive measures to reduce the risk of Hyperhidrosis:
● Application of antiperspirant before going to bed. These block the sweat ducts and prevent sweat from reaching the surface of the body.
● Try to wear breathable and airy fabrics. Wearing light fabrics with adequate ventilation will soothe your body and help you keep cool.
● Avoid the consumption of caffeine as it stimulates the body’s adrenal glands. This causes sweating in the palm, and feet, etc.
● Take regular baths and dry yourself properly to prevent the accumulation of any bacteria due to sweat.
● Perform relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.
When to consult a doctor?
In some cases, too much sweating (hyperhidrosis conditions) might indicate a serious problem. See your doctor if you experience the following:
- Excessive sweating followed by chest pain, nausea, and lightheadedness.
- Heavy sweating that interferes with your day-to-day life.
- Too much sweating, leading to social withdrawal or emotional issues.
- Night sweats with no visible reason.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do doctors test for Hyperhidrosis?
Your doctor is most likely to diagnose the severity of your condition using sweat tests. These include the thermoregulatory test, iodine-starch test, and skin-conductance test. Blood tests and urine tests are used to identify if any underlying medical condition like overactive thyroid gland or low blood sugar, etc. are responsible for causing Hyperhidrosis.
2. How do I know if I have Hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating that exceeds the average sweating criterion. Excessive sweating usually affects the whole body, your clothes are drenched in sweat, and you have excessive sweaty underarms and face, palm, hands, and feet without any known cause. These symptoms are unrelated to intensive exercising or being under the sun.
3. Does Hyperhidrosis go away with age?
No, Hyperhidrosis does not go away with age. In many cases, it might worsen if left untreated or ignored. It can result in various infections due to the accumulation of sweat on your body. It can cause social and emotional effects, including embarrassment.
4. Is Hyperhidrosis curable?
It is possible to treat Hyperhidrosis by either treating the underlying medical condition or relieving hyperhidrosis symptoms. Despite treating Hyperhidrosis, it can occur again.