We all sweat while working out or in a hot and humid weather condition. This is perfectly normal. But there are people who sweat more than normal. This excessive sweating is called Hyperhidrosis. It may occur even in unusual situations like cold temperatures or in a relaxed non-working state. It can affect the whole body or certain areas like underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis), palms and soles of the feet (palmoplantar hyperhidrosis). Excess sweating, particularly in these areas, can be observed from the adolescent age itself.
While normal sweating is alright, excess sweating can be embarrassing in many situations as your clothes get stained and people don’t prefer talking to you or being around you. Many of them do not seek treatment as they are not aware that hyperhidrosis is treatable. It may also be caused by underlying diseases like hyperthyroidism, so diagnosing hyperhidrosis is very important. Keep reading to find out the symptoms, causes and treatment of hyperhidrosis.
- Wet palms
- Wet Soles
- Body odour
- Noticeable staining of clothes
- Skin problems like bacterial and fungal infections
- The same amount of sweating on both sides of the body
- Excess sweating lasting for 6 months or more than that
- Sweating that began in adolescence or young adult stage
- Sweating excessively even in cool weather or in an air-conditioned room
Hyperhidrosis has many causes depending on its type. It is categorized into two types depending upon the cause. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is a condition in which excessive sweating is due to a family history, which means there are genes causing hyperhidrosis passed onto the person from an ancestor or a parent or even a sibling. Thus, it is inherited from a generation and can be observed in a person from the early stages of his life.
Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is another type of excessive sweating that is mostly observed in adults and can be caused due to heart diseases, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, diabetes, gout, pregnancy, shingles, HIV, TB, spinal cord injury, lung diseases, menopause, hyperthyroidism and some medications. These people sweat in most of their waking time even by doing absolutely nothing.
A skin specialist or dermatologist may prescribe you with certain options from the following.
Specialized antiperspirant – An antiperspirant that contains aluminium chloride. It is not available in local stores like the other antiperspirants, you have to get it from a medical store. It is used for mild cases of hyperhidrosis.
Anticholinergic drugs – Drugs such as Robinul (glycopyrrolate) inhibit the transmission of parasympathetic nerve impulses. In short, these drugs help in preventing the occurrence of excess sweat by decreasing the acetylcholine content responsible for stimulation of the sweat glands.
Iontophoresis – This is a process of blocking your sweat glands from producing sweat by delivering low electric current when you are submerged in water. It takes about 20-30 minutes for each session and can be carried out in 2-4 sessions. They mainly focus on blocking the sweat glands of underarms, feet and hands.
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) – This is a kind of surgery in which the patient has not gone through any of the other treatments and is affected severely. The surgery is to cut the nerves that carry messages to the sweat glands are cut. It is performed mostly in the areas of hands, underarms or face. Performing this for the soles of your feet is not recommended as there is a chance of permanent sexual dysfunction.
Botox injections – In severe cases injections of botulinum toxin is given to the patients in order to block the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. Several injections are given for achieving effective results in this process.
Home remedies – There are several home remedies you can try out for mild hyperhidrosis like bathing daily to get rid of germs and odour, applying antiperspirant after your bath, using underarm pads to prevent staining of your clothes, choosing loose fitting clothes to minimize the signs of sweating, avoiding clothes made up of synthetic materials like nylon and polyester and choosing cotton clothing, wearing leather shoes, wearing socks that are able to absorb sweat and changing them twice a day etc.
If any of the home remedies do not help, consult a general physician. He might treat if you have mild hyperhidrosis or can refer you to a dermatologist in severe cases. Maintain good hygiene once you are done with your treatment.