Why am I sweating so much? What you need to know about Hyperhidrosis

Treatment for sweating too much

What you need to know about hyperhidrosis

Do you ever feel like you are sweating unnecessarily? It’s a 60 degree day outside but for some reason walking inside the grocery store leaves you feeling a little misty in the hands or underarms. You may be experiencing a condition known as hyperhidrosis. In medicine, hyper- is placed in front of a word indicating an overproduction or elevation. Thus, it makes sense that hyperhidrosis essentially means too much sweating (hidrosis). Everyone needs to sweat in order to live. Physiologically, our bodies use sweat as a way to get rid of heat. Our body runs optimally at a certain temperature and evaporative cooling through the use of sweat is one way we rid ourselves of all that energy. Hyperhidrosis usually shows up as increased sweat production at unnecessary times from one or more areas on the body. Frequent problem areas include the palms, underarms and feet. I don’t know about you, but whenever I have sweaty hands I can open doors, unscrew lids to canned food and it even makes using the computer difficult and awkward. Many times sweat marks are overly obvious in shirts and other clothing even though you aren’t overly exerting yourself. Not only is this an annoyance, it can also lead to increased risk of skin infections due to the perpetual moisture production lathering your skin. This is just an overview of hyperhidrosis, but already, you can see how this condition could impact the livelihood of those it affects.

Signs and Symptoms typical in Hyperhidrosis

As mentioned already. hyperhidrosis is suspected when sweating occurs at times when a person isn’t necessary exerting themselves. Some of the obvious signs of this condition are sweat soaked clothing. Sweating that occurs when you are completely at rest. Difficulties holding everyday items like a pen, paper turns wet just from you holding it, or maybe you can see the perspiration imprint on the desk after you pick your hand up to go on with your day. Other signs of hyperhidrosis include softened areas of white skin that may be flaking or peeling around areas of increased perspiration. Additionally, if you have noticed that you get continued skin redness or bumps it could be a sign that your increased sweat production is causing those infections. This can be seen most often in the underarms or genital area, two areas more prone to infection. Common athletes foot and jock itch may be continually worsened by hyperhidrosis.

Differentiating the two types of hyperhidrosis

There are two types of hyperhidrosis: primary and secondary. Secondary hyperhidrosis is when the elevated amount of sweating is due to another cause such as a general medical condition or possibly secondary to something a person may have ingested such as a foods or medications. Some of the more common medical conditions that may result in hyperhidrosis are diabetes, menopause or thyroid disease just to name a few of the causes. The increased perspiration is a result of a different pathophysiologic process. Quite simply, primary hyperhidrosis doesn’t have disease or reason for the unnecessary moisture build-up on the skin. However, there are a few things that both primary and secondary hyperhidrosis have in common. It is a focal condition, meaning it happens in only a couple locations on the body. Usually it is in a bilateral distribution on the body, for instance, it usually isn’t just increased sweating in one arm pit and the other one is dry. People usually also complain of completely drenched shirts and night gowns after waking up in a complete sweat even after sleeping in a comfortable temperature. Ultimately, primary hyperhidrosis is a disease that starts at a young age. The older a person is when they say the symptoms started, the less likely the symptoms are a result of primary hyperhidrosis.

Psychological impact of hyperhidrosis

People find hyperhidrosis very psychologically distressing. For some, if this developed in their teens it may have made high school or very embarrassing time. Others may find it difficult to hold romantic relationships due to their excessive perspiration. Confidence is replaced by anxiety with the thought that everyone is seemingly looking at your problem areas. The sweat stains on the clothing, or the need to wear multiple different outfits during a single day make this disease quite the physchological nuisance.

Who gets hyperhidrosis?

As many as 3% of the American public experiences some form of excessive sweating. It has been shown that most people know at least one person who is always visibly sweaty no matter the occasion, whether or not that is due to a medical condition or ingestion of food or new medication. There is no gender, age or race that hyperhidrosis plagues more than others. Many dermatologists think that people live with this condition without knowing that it may be abnormal, especially in kids. Only a few end up going to an office appointment to see their options of decreasing this embarrassing disease. Ultimately, sweating in general is caused by a certain type of nerve in the human body. Excessive stimulation of these nerves signal the body to start excreting toxins, salt and water in order to help your body cool off and perform many other important physiologic functions. The important part is that treatments do exist to help calm down this excessive nerve stimulation leading to decreased sweating and providing great relief.

Diagnosis of Hyperhidrosis

It is usually a multi-factorial process to diagnose hyperhidrosis. A dermatologist will usually ask very specific questions related to possible secondary causes of increased sweat production. If no obvious medical diseases are causing the excessive sweating, the provider may order a variety of tests to sufficiently rule out secondary causes in order to make the diagnosis of primary hyperhidrosis.

Ways to Treat Hyperhidrosis

The first and frankly the easiest way to treat hyperhidrosis is with the use of an antiperspirant. There are both over the counter and prescription strength antiperspirants available to work on decreasing sweat production. Antiperspirants are applied topically to the skin and allowed to soak into the skin pores. Once the chemical has provided a clogged roadblock for sweat production at the level of your pores, your body usually decides to shut down the production of sweat. Of course this doesn’t always work but is usually where treatment will begin for those struggling with hyperhidrosis. Unfortunately, sometimes antiperspirants may irritate the skin causing burning, itching or just vague irritation. After antiperspirants, the next step may be to try iontophoresis. Iontophoresis is a treatment for both hand and feet hyperhidrosis where the patient submerges their problem areas in water and a low-voltage electric current is use to inhibit sweat gland production in a temporary fashion. Iontophoresis requires multiple treatments as recommended by your dermatologist. This treatment can also cause try, irritated skin as well as minimal discomfort during the process. Botox may be the most well known treatment for hyperhidrosis. Yes, you read that correctly, botulism toxin, used in small doses, can be injected into the arm pits in order to stop the chemical communication between nerves and sweat glands. Again, this is another temporary measure used to treat hyperhidrosis as it usually only lasts about 4-6 months before more botox will need to be injected into the under arm. Botox can cause minor muscle weakness which is usually seen if it has been injected into the hands for excessive palm sweating. Generalized prescription medications can also be used to decrease sweating. However, they come with unwanted side effects such as blurry vision, dry eyes or mouth and sometimes heart palpitations. These are just a few of the treatment methods used to help people that are struggling with excessive perspiration.

A couple words of advice before we wrap up this lengthy, sweat laden topic. First of all, you should always book an appointment with a local dermatologist to receive the best care possible. Secondly, try to keep a journal of when you are sweating the most. As discussed already, hyperhidrosis describes sweating during times of inactivity. Write down what you ate last, or what you were thinking about right before you started sweating excessively. These can yield helpful hints to your dermatologist during your scheduled appointment. If most of your sweating is in your feet, try to wear sandals, wear leather only shoes, avoid cotton socks due to their inability to rid moisture. Also, you can even put antiperspirant on your feet! It may required a variety of treatment strategies but the best step is to always consult with a dermatologist who can coordinate your anti-sweat attack strategy so that hyperhidrosis becomes less of a problem in your life.

Don’t forget to check out other informative posts throughout our website. Learn how to check yourself for the most common signs of skin cancer. Learn more about how to treat and live with acne. Additionally, learn even more about what botox can be used for in this guide.