Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) is a condition that affects up to 3% of the population. Patients with hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweating that can cause serious social, emotional, and psychological consequences. Usually there is no underlying pathology (idiopathic hyperhidrosis), but rarely hyperhidrosis can be due to serious underlying medical conditions, medications, or supplements. Hyperhidrosis usually tends to run in the family and multiple family members may be affected.

What causes hyperhidrosis?

Sweating is a normal response of the body when it needs to cool down. Hyperhidrosis occurs even when the body sweats even though it does not need cooling. Patients with this condition usually experience sweating from armpits, palms, soles, and rarely from face, scalp, groin folds, and inframammary folds. The nerves in the skin signal the body to sweat when it needs to cool down. In hyperhidrosis, these nerves are pathologically overactive.

When should it be treated?

It is time to talk to your dermatologist about treatment options when your hyperhidrosis causes significant visible sweating, dripping of sweat from your skin, and soaking of your clothes even when you are inactive. If your hyperhidrosis is interfering with your normal daily activities, it is recommended that you seek treatment to improve your quality of life.

What are the treatment options for hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis can be treated with topical over the counter or prescription strength anti-perspirants that are available in liquid roll-on bottles or as wipes. If these anti-perspirants are not successful at controlling the sweating or if the problem area cannot be treated with topical solutions, oral medications can be prescribed to reduce sweating across the entire body. Oral medications can carry systemic side effects and patients taking these medications need to be monitored especially early in the treatment. Iontophoresis is another option that can be used for control of sweating from palms and soles. This method passes an electric current through a solution to inactivate the sweat glands. BOTOX, or Botulinum toxin injections are also used successfully to help reduce excessive sweating. The injections are placed in palms and soles, at specific intervals, but these injections can be very painful. The benefits from Botox treatments last 4-6 months. MiraDry is another option which destroys sweat glands in the armpits and reduces sweating with each successive treatment.

Talk to our dermatologists if you experience excessive sweating so a customized treatment plan can be developed for you. It is important to communicate all of your symptoms, including irregular or fast heartbeats or night sweats, family history of excessive sweating, and a list of all medications and supplements that you are taking, at your visit with your dermatologist.