Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

What is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis [excess sweating] is a medical condition that involves the sweat glands in the body and may involve the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under the arms and the groin. These glands produce sweat in excess of normal bodily functioning or cooling.

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The condition can be localized to one or two areas of the body or generalized to include the entire body. When it is localized or focal, the term primary hyperhidrosis is used; and when generalized it is known as generalized.

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What causes Hyperhidrosis?

Primary hyperhidrosis tends to run in families and effects about 2-3% of the population. It first appears during puberty in the adolescent period.  It is generally not life threatening, rather it can be a source of significant psychological and social distress.

Secondary hyperhidrosis can occur at any point in life and is generally associated with some underlying medical condition like thyroid disease, cancer, diabetes, hormone changes or as a result of certain types of poisoning.

How is Hyperhidrosis diagnosed?

Generally speaking if the pattern starts in adolescence and follows a very specific pattern, no real investigation is needed. If, on the other hand, it develops at any other time, OR if it only occurs on one side of the body or in only one area, a work up to exclude underlying medical conditions is warranted.

How is Hyperhidrosis treated?

Treatment of secondary hyperhidrosis is to first treat the underlying cause. Treatment of primary hyperhidrosis includes application of certain medications like aluminum chlorohydrate to the area, prescription medications aimed at decreasing sweating, surgery, energy-based devices, and/or injection of neuromodulator medications like Botox.

Botox is extremely effective and safe, with an average duration of treatment up to six months. When treatments are done regularly, some patients have noted the results will last for longer and longer periods of time.