Hyperhidrosis is a condition in which there is an over secretion of fluid by the sweat glands. Sweating is a normal function of the body — a way to releases excess heat and to cool down. This is the body’s way of regulating its own temperature. When a person has hyperhidrosis, he sweats excessively beyond the level that the body needs. This results in unpleasant odor, sweaty palms, and self-consciousness when interacting with people.
The two types of hyperhidrosis are the localized (focal) and the secondary hyperhidrosis. The sites where localized hyperhidrosis commonly occur are the palms, soles, face and axillae (armpits). Hyperhidrosis in these areas are emotionally induced. Secondary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, is excessive sweating in the whole body associated with a medical condition or by a certain medication that a person is taking.
Did you notice how you begin to perspire whenever you need to do something new or something stressful? Anxiety, fear and lack of self-esteem contribute to excessive sweating. The usual cause of localized hyperhidrosis is emotional stimuli, although family history can also contribute to it.
- Excessive sweating in the hand area (or palmar hyperhidrosis) usually begins early especially in school-age children. Sweaty hands or literally dripping wet hands in school children who are learning to read and write may be traced to emotional anxiety. Studies showed that children with palmar hyperhidrosis are genetically acquired as parents have also history of hyperhidrosis.
- Foot sweating or (or plantar hyperhidrosis) can be very embarrassing. It can result in athlete’s foot or foot odor.The unpleasant odor coming from the feet can often bring some social and functional discomfort. A person with plantar hyperhidrosis must always change shoes and socks, or even use antiperspirant lotion or foot powder.
- Facial hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating on the face is usually related to blushing. When a person feels self-conscious, then he or she starts to sweat excessively and feels shy and withdrawn. This is also called social phobia or erythrophoblia.
- Excessive sweating of the armpits (or axillary hyperhidrosis) begins to manifest in puberty due to the growth hormones and sweat nerve reaction. If the symptoms exist for more than six months and using deodorant or antiperspirant lotion does not help, then it can be axillary hyperhidrosis. Just like foot sweating, it can be really embarrassing to have other people smell that unpleasant underarm odor or commonly called body odor.
Existing medical condition or any medication that a person takes can affect the normal functioning of the sweat glands. Clinical reports linked excessive sweating to the following disorders or health conditions:
- Cardiovascular problems (angina, hypertension or heart attack)
- Chronic infections like tuberculosis
- Metabolic-related diseases or (cancer, diabetes, gout)
- Hormone-related conditions (hyperpituitarism, hyperthyroidism, menopause)
- Neurological problems like phobias
- Nervous system (spinal cord injury)
- Drug or alcohol withdrawal
- Side effects of medications
Treatments for Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis can be crippling in terms of establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships. As a teenager, the need to be accepted as part of the group can bring disappointment and embarrassment. If you are a wife or a husband, even your marital relationship may suffer because of this condition. A new friend may find it embarrassing to shake hands when his palms are dripping from perspiration. An employee may be insecure to mingle with office mates for fear that that even the strongest deodorant or foot powder may not hide the unpleasant odor. A qualified job seeker may lose his confidence when he starts to sweat a few minutes before the interview with the boss.
A lot of treatment protocols are available for hyperhidrosis, depending on your preference. People who suffer from hyperhidrosis have tried herbal medicine, oral pills, topical lotions, antiperspirant and deodorants. Treating localized hyperhidrosis must be a primary concern. When symptoms still persist, then other treatments can be explored.
Some try acupuncture when excessive sweating becomes uncontrollable. The needles placed in the acupoints of the dermatomes (area of the skin) help regulate the overactivity of the sympathetic nerves. The same acupoints are identified to relieve stress and lessen other factors that cause shyness, anxiety, or emotional chaos.
Another non-surgical treatment is the injection of botox, usually to axillary hyperhidrosis. Muscle relaxing toxins are injected to the areas to stop or block the sweat gland stimulation. It may be cost less than or $1000, but many patients who had botox gave a positive feedback about the procedure.
If you think hyperhidrosis is adversely affecting your social and professional life, the most effective remedy is Endoscopic Thoracoscopic Sympathectomy (ETS) surgery and performed only by a thoracic surgeon. The procedure cuts a nerve in the sympathetic system to stop or reduce the production of sweat in the areas where excessive sweating occurs. Clamping can also be an option but thoracic surgeons prefer cutting the nerves for permanent solution to the sweating problem.