Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating – that’s the simple definition. You can have excessive sweating all over the body, but the most common areas are the underarms, hands, and the feet, but people can sweat all over the body. It can be mild to severe. Mild forms of hyperhidrosis can be having damp underarms or getting sweaty hands prior to a social event. The other end of the spectrum – severe hyperhidrosis – is sweating so much that sweat drips down from a person’s hands when they hold them up, or the sweat causes intense stains on people’s clothes.
There are two forms of hyperhidrosis, known as secondary hyperhidrosis and primary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis is the most common form of hyperhidrosis, affecting approximately 15 to 20 million people in the United States alone. Secondary hyperhidrosis, although less common, is often indicative of another medical problem and is an issue for older individuals.
Secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating as a result of an underlying medical condition, medication, or other medical problem with the body. The list of conditions and medicines that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis is very large, and an individual should consult their primary care doctor to see what may be causing their secondary hyperhidrosis?
Primary hyperhidrosis is categorized by excessive sweating without an underlying medical condition. The condition may be the result of a genetic predisposition, but the specific gene sequence that causes excessive sweating has not been discovered. Whereas secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by another distinct disease, disorder, or medication in the body, primary hyperhidrosis is caused by an individual’s natural predisposition to sweat.
Fortunately, several treatment options exist for hyperhidrosis. The treatment spectrum begins with over-the-counter topical creams designed to eliminate sweat. If the over-the-counter solutions are not effective, prescription topical creams and prescription oral medicines may help stop hyperhidrosis. If these methods are ineffective, a non-invasive treatment method utilizing electrical currents and water known as iontophoresis may help. Furthermore, surgical options to inject Botox or sever nerves connecting to sweat glands may be taken as a last resort to stop the worst hyperhidrosis cases.
Both primary and secondary hyperhidrosis are conditions that a physician should help diagnose. As a physician, I’m going to combine my medical knowledge with their specific symptoms and medical history to provide the most accurate diagnosis possible. Factors such as previous medication, the amount of sweat, and the location of the sweat are just a few of the tests to determine if an individual has hyperhidrosis. Once the condition has been diagnosed by a medical provider, your doctor can craft a personalized care with the specificity you need to treat your hyperhidrosis.
Although hyperhidrosis is not inherently dangerous or harmful to your physical health, the condition’s impact can be significant. From elementary school children who are afraid to raise their hands at school, to teenagers young adults who cannot write an essay or draw a picture without sweat ruining the paper, hyperhidrosis poses a serious problem. Many individuals with hyperhidrosis struggle to shake hands, speak in public, or even maintain confidence.