Excessive sweating: It’s normal to sweat when you get nervous or too hot.
If you sweat for no apparent reason, you may have hyperhidrosis.
This excessive sweating can interfere with everyday activities. Hands can be so sweaty that it becomes difficult to turn a doorknob or use a computer. Sweat from the underarms often soaks through clothes, causing obvious sweat marks. Because the skin is often wet, skin infections can develop.
Two types of hyperhidrosis
Both types cause excessive sweating, but there are some differences.
- In one or a few areas of the body: “Focal” means that the excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) affects one or a few parts of the body. The areas of the body most commonly affected are the underarms, hands and/or feet, and forehead.
- On both sides of the body: If the excessive sweating occurs in the underarms, the person usually notices both underarms sweat excessively. The same holds true for the hands and feet.
- After waking up: Sweating may begin soon after the person wakes up, but the person usually does not notice damp sheets or wet clothing unless the room is hot.
- At least once a week: For many people, it occurs much more often.
This type of hyperhidrosis usually begins when the person is a child or adolescent. Most people who have this type are otherwise healthy. In medical terminology, the word “primary” means that the cause is not another medical condition.
In medical terminology, “secondary” means that the excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) has an underlying cause. The cause could be a:
- Medical condition
- Side effect of taking a medicine or food supplement
Medical conditions that can cause excessive sweating include:
- Injury, such as head trauma caused by an accident
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Treatment depends on the type of hyperhidrosis and where the excessive sweating occurs on the body. Your dermatologist also considers your overall health and other factors.
Treatments that dermatologists use to help their patients control hyperhidrosis include:
Iontophoresis (the no-sweat machine)
Botulinum toxin injections
By seeing a dermatologist, many people find treatment that effectively controls their excessive sweating. This often greatly improves their quality of life.