Hyperhidrosis Facts: Separating Truth from Fiction
Excessive sweating can be beyond embarrassing. It can disrupt your life, lower your confidence, create unpleasant side effects, and even stain your clothing. People who experience this may believe it’s just a fact of life, not realizing that there’s a difference between simple sweating and a medical condition called hyperhidrosis.
Sweating when you’re nervous or too hot is normal, and even healthy. It’s how the body cools itself down. Dripping sweat on any day of the year, at any time, anywhere, for no apparent reason is a different story altogether.
In a healthy situation, certain nerves in your body tell it to when to sweat. Researchers and physicians believe that excessive sweating is caused by nerves that overreact.
The two main types of hyperhidrosis are primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary focal hyperhidrosis begins during childhood or adolescence, and you may sweat from one or a few specific areas of the body, such as the palms, feet, underarms, upper lip, groin area, or head. Secondary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, has an underlying cause, such as diabetes, frostbite, menopause, obesity, an overactive thyroid, or usage of certain medications.
There are two main differences between the two types of hyperhidrosis.
- With primary focal hyperhidrosis, you sweat from one or a few areas of the body, but with secondary hyperhidrosis, you tend to sweat all over.
- Secondary hyperhidrosis includes sweating while sleeping. If you have focal hyperhidrosis, sweating may begin after you wake up, but generally “night sweats” are not a symptom.
Dermatologists may treat hyperhidrosis in a number of different ways.
1. They may recommend antiperspirants, which can be applied to more areas of the body than the underarms.
2. Some physicians may advise you to use an iontophoresis machine at home. It requires you to place your hands or feet in water while a low-voltage current is sent through the water to temporarily shut down the treated sweat glands. Each treatment takes about a half-hour. While these machines may be effective, they can be difficult to obtain and use correctly.
3. Drysolis the brand name of a topical treatment that uses aluminum chloride hexahydrate and anhydrous ethyl alcohol. It’s used to treat excessive sweating with overnight application and occlusion.
4. Botulinum toxin may be injected into your underarms, palms, or soles to temporarily block a chemical in the body that stimulates the sweat glands.
5. Some dermatologists may prescribe cloth wipes that contain glycoporionium tosylate, a chemical that can reduce underarm sweating.
6. Prescription medications may be a solution for individuals who experience excessive sweating all over the body and head. They can also be helpful for post-menopausal women who sweat excessively from the head. While these medications may be very effective, they can cause excessive dryness in other areas, including the eyes and mouth.
7. One of the newer treatments is a hand-held medical device that can destroy sweat glands.
8. When other solutions are not effective, various surgical procedures may provide relief. These include surgically removing the sweat glands in the area through processes such as liposuction, laser surgery, or excision. Another procedure is a sympathectomy, which is a major surgery that entails cutting or destroying certain nerves. However, these are often a last resort, as these procedures are not without recovery and side-effects.
Additional Hyperhidrosis Facts
- Dermatologists estimate that 3 percent of the U.S. population has hyperhidrosis.
- Research shows that you may be more likely to get hyperhidrosis if someone in your family also sweats excessively.
- You can have hyperhidrosis whether you live in a warm climate or a cold one.
- The condition affects people of all ages and can begin at any age.
- Keeping a sweat journal can help you and your doctor identify the causes of your excessive sweating, as well as devise appropriate treatments.
- Research shows that approximately 365 million people around the world suffer from extreme sweating.
- Chronically wet skin may lead to infection.
Associated Dermatologists & Hyperhidrosis Awareness
Associated Dermatologists has provided this article in recognition of November as National Hyperhidrosis Month, which has been led by the International Hyperhydrosis Society since 2017.
The goal of Hyperhidrosis Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the common condition, provide support and tips, celebrate the resilience of those living with hyperhidrosis, and continue to advocate for newer, more effective treatments.
Our dermatologists can use a variety of treatments to control hyperhidrosis, including oral medications and topical treatments. Additionally, several of our skin care professionals specialize in Botox for hyperhidrosis, and these treatment methods have been shown to have effective, long-lasting results.
If you suffer from excessive sweating and want to learn more about the cause and your treatment options, make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists in Commerce, West Bloomfield, Novi, Farmington Hills, or Berkley.