Does Hyperhidrosis get better with age?

Primary focal hyperhidrosis strikes just as people are coming of age. Does it improve over a lifetime or do the symptoms worsen?
Does Hyperhidrosis get better with age?

The short answer is “yes” - hyperhidrosis does seem to get better with age. It has been noted by researchers that hyperhidrosis is significantly less prevalent in elderly populations and this fact has led some to believe that there may be a regression of the disease over time.[1] A study of the prevalence of hyperhidrosis in the US population captures this effect over time. The results from the study show that 2.1% of children age 18 and under have hyperhidrosis, 8.8% of people ages 18 to 39 have it, and only 2.1% of people older than 65 have hyperhidrosis.[2] Trends like this one demonstrate that the disease is most active during the middle years of a person’s life and that symptoms tend to lessen or disappear as people grow older. However, there haven’t been specific studies done on this topic, so researchers speculate that this is the case but they do not know for sure.

Age has an interesting impact on the progression of hyperhidrosis, and even on the type of symptoms people experience. Hyperhidrosis tends to begin between the ages of 14 and 25 for most people with the condition. However, symptoms can begin much earlier as eccrine sweat glands, which become overactive in those with hyperhidrosis, are present and functional at birth. People who get the condition as children, before puberty, are usually affected by excessive sweating of the hands and feet. In fact, 88.9% of children who present with hyperhidrosis experience palmar and plantar sweating. People who get hyperhidrosis after puberty usually experience heavier axillary sweating.[1] It appears that symptoms then tend to be significant throughout middle adulthood, until people grow old. Some have suggested that hyperhidrosis spontaneously regresses at some point in old age.[3] However, it could also be that symptoms gradually reduce over time. More studies need to be done in order to verify what causes the disease to decrease in the elderly.

Hyperhidrosis is a relatively common condition, with an estimated 2.8% of the US population reported to have it. There is also a hereditary component to hyperhidrosis that can affect the age at which a person begins experiencing symptoms. With so many people struggling with this disorder, it is important that research is done to develop future treatments for hyperhidrosis. For the time being, there are several effective treatments that people can use to manage their sweat, and in at least one respect, patients can look forward to the fruits of old age.

Sources
  1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
  2. Doolittle, James, et al. “Hyperhidrosis: an Update on Prevalence and Severity in the United States.” Archives of Dermatological Research, vol. 308, no. 10, Dec. 2016, pp. 743–749., doi:10.1007/s00403-016-1697-9.
  3. Benson, R A, et al. “Diagnosis and Management of Hyperhidrosis.” BMJ : British Medical Journal, vol. 347, 25 Nov. 2013, doi:10.1136/bmj.f6800.
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