Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Hyperhidrosis

Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) most commonly affects the armpits, but it can also affect the hands, feet, face, chest and groin. Whilst excessive sweating isn't considered to be serious, it can interfere with your day-to-day activities. So much so that obtaining treatment to help alleviate excessive sweating are available online.

What is excessive sweating?

Hyperhidrosis, more commonly known as excessive sweating, is a condition that can either affects the whole body, or is localised to one area.

Usually, individuals sweat when they're too hot or during exercise. However, if you experience excessive sweating, there will not be an obvious reason as to why it's occurring.

People sweat when the nervous system instructs their glands to release a salt-based fluid to help regulate their body temperature. This only affects one type of sweat gland, the water-producing eccrine gland, and not the apocrine gland, which produces an oily sweat that causes odour.

Excessive sweating occurs when the nervous system instructs the glands to release too much sweat at inappropriate times, often without an obvious cause.

There are two core types of excessive sweating:

  • Localised symmetrical hyperhidrosis: Also known as focal or primary hyperhidrosis, this affects certain parts of the body (usually palms, soles, underarms, face and scalp) and both sides equally. The cause of this type of excessive sweating is unknown, but the condition often improves with age.
  • Generalised hyperhidrosis: This form of excessive sweating affects the whole body and has several known causes. These include certain medical conditions, medications and family history. This condition is also known as secondary hyperhidrosis.

Few people experience excessive sweating but for those that do, it can vastly change their way of life. It can have a huge impact on self-confidence, personal relationships and mental health.

It can also prevent individuals from completing practical tasks such as holding a pen, gripping a steering wheel and wearing certain types of clothing.

There are a range of treatments available for those who experience excessive sweating. These range from pharmaceutical creams and sprays to surgical intervention. Although these treatments help manage the condition, they rarely eradicate it entirely.

What causes excessive sweating?

The main characteristic of excessive sweating is that it occurs for no obvious reason.

There are some theories that suggest the onset of excessive sweating is related to age; underarm problems tend to start in adolescence and palm/sole sweating starts around the age of 13.

The cause for primary hyperhidrosis is unknown, but secondary hyperhidrosis has several known causes. These include:

  • Illnesses
  • Infections
  • Inherited conditions
  • Hormonal conditions (menopause, diabetes, overactive thyroid)
  • Medications, such as fluoxetine and similar antidepressants
  • Disease or irritation to the sympathetic nerve pathway

Unless you can identify an underlying cause for excessive sweating, it can be difficult to treat. There are several things that are known to exacerbate or trigger this condition, including anxiety, heat and embarrassment.

What are the symptoms of excessive sweating?

The symptoms of excessive sweating tend to be visible. Sweat drips down from the affected area(s) and often leaves damp patches on clothing.

As excessive sweating only affects the eccrine glands and not the apocrine sweat glands, bad odour is not a direct symptom of hyperhidrosis. However, if your feet sweat within your shoes this may cause a growth in skin bacteria that (while harmless) can cause an unpleasant smell.

Excessive sweating episodes usually take place at least once a week during waking hours, however it's not uncommon to experience night sweats too.

Typically, excessive sweating occurs on the hands, feet, underarms or face, although more extreme cases report experiencing it across the whole of the body.

There are many emotional and social symptoms of excessive sweating. Often those who experience excessive sweating are extremely anxious in social situations (therefore exacerbating the condition), and have difficulties connecting with people.

Physically, people with hyperhidrosis are more prone to skin infections.

How to treat excessive sweating

It's important to know that there is no cure for excessive sweating. However, there are many treatments and techniques to manage this condition.

Wearing loose-fitting clothing can minimise signs of sweating and improve self-confidence. Avoiding man-made fabrics, such as nylon, also helps.

Wearing socks that absorb moisture and changing them at least twice a day is a great way to reduce risk of infections (like athlete's foot), and help you feel more comfortable. Wearing leather shoes and changing shoes regularly can also help.

Avoiding things that traditionally make sweating worse, for example drinking alcohol and eating spicy food, may help. Keeping a diary of your episodes to see if you can establish any patterns of what triggers your excessive sweating may also be useful.

There are many pharmaceutical options available, too. You could try:

  • Replacing deodorant with strong, over-the-counter antiperspirants (usually containing aluminium)
  • Topical creams containing glycopyrrolate to help sweating on the face and head
  • Foot powder for sweaty feet and toes
  • Soap substitutes that are gentle on your skin
  • You can get padding that attaches to the underarm of your garments (typically used for women during the menopause)

If your excessive sweating is accompanied by light-headedness, chest pain or nausea you should seek urgent medical attention.

You should also see your doctor if the excessive sweating episodes have lasted at least 6 months and are getting in the way of your daily activities. Your doctor will be able to assess which kind of hyperhidrosis you have and offer suggestions for treatment.

Depending on which type you have (primary or secondary), you may be given tests for infection, diabetes, overactive thyroid, or other conditions.

If your doctor can identify an underlying cause, and it can be treated, hyperhidrosis can be cured or at least brought down to a manageable level.

There are several procedures your doctor may suggest for this, including:

  • A course of tablets designed to reduce swelling
  • Lontophoresis; sending a weak electric current through water onto a wet pad on the affected area(s)
  • Botox injections under the armpits (not always available on the NHS)
  • Surgical treatments, such as removal of sweat glands and nerve surgery, but this is a last resort as they may cause severe side effects

How to buy Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) medication online

Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) can be treated with formula specialised for the condition. You can avoid the hassle of buying in-person by ordering online. At HealthExpress, this includes our free consultation and delivery process. Your details can be kept in your personal member's area for future use.