We perspire to remove waste products and to regulate body temperature as it cools the body down when it evaporates. Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is a condition wherein the body produces too much sweat. It can occur in the hands (palmar hyperhidrosis), armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis) or feet (plantar hyperhidrosis). Although it is not serious, hyperhidrosis can cause discomfort and can be embarrassing. Those affected with this condition are more vulnerable to certain skin infections and body odor.
Hyperhidrosis can be primary or secondary depending on the cause. Primary hyperhidrosis has no obvious cause. It may result in either from a problem in the sympathetic nervous system which controls sweating or it can be genetic. Secondary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, has a known cause. It can be triggered by different conditions including pregnancy, menopause, anxiety, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), hyperthyroidism, obesity or Parkinson's disease.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
- Over-the-counter antiperspirants specifically those containing aluminum chloride
- Botulinum toxin (Botox injection) in a weak form can block the nerves that trigger sweat glands.
- Iontophoresis. In this procedure, a device delivers mild electric current in the hands or feet while soaked in a basin of water.
- Microwave destruction. It destroys the sweat glands causing minimal damage to other tissues.
- Surgery. If sweating occurs in the armpit, a portion of sweat glands in the underarms can be surgically removed. Thoracic sympathectomy is the last resort option in treating hyperhidrosis. It is both effective and risky. Sympathectomy works by destroying a part of the nerve supply to the sweat glands in the skin.
Management and Lifestyle Modifications
Avoid anything that may trigger sweating like spicy foods and heat.
Use antiperspirant frequently.
Bathe daily. A regular bath minimizes the risk of bacterial infection.
Choose clothes made of natural materials such as cotton to allow your body to breathe. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothing.
Change socks frequently to avoid bad odor and infection.
Alternate between different pairs of shoes every day.
Go barefoot when possible to let your feet breathe.
Relax. Stress and anxiety can trigger sweating. Practice some stress-reducing techniques like yoga and breathing exercises.
Wear dark or white clothes to mask signs of sweating.
Manage your weight to decrease how often you sweat.