Excessive Sweating? Know the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

3 min read

Hyperhidrosis is a non-threatening medical disorder charcterised by excessive sweating that is not necessarily related to heat or exercise.

According to the US NIH, the excessive sweating associated with the condition usually occurs in the most active areas of perspiration, including the hands, feet, groin, armpits and facial area due to the high concentration of sweat glands in these areas.

According to the doctors at Mayo Clinic, there are various types of the condition.

When excessive sweating is localised and affects only one body part, it is referred to as primary or focal hyperhidrosis.

Primary or focal hyperhidrosis may be further divided by the area affected. For example, palmoplantar hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the hands or feet.

Axillary hyperhidrosis is the excessive sweating of the armpits, gustatory hyperhidrosis is the excessive sweating of the face or chest a few moments after consuming certain foods.

When excessive sweating involves the whole body, it is known as secondary or generalized hyperhidrosis.


Hyperhidrosis may also be congenital, meaning present at birth or acquired (developed later in life).

Although most of the hyperhidrosis cases tend to start during adolescence years. Regardless of where it occurs, hyperhidrosis can affect and deteriote the quality of life.

People of all ages or gender can be affected by the condition.

Almost 3 percent of the world's population is affected by the condition.

However, more than half of the affected population do not get diagnosed or treated for the condition because they lack awareness and understanding of the condition and its treatment.

Hyperhidrosis: Causes

Sweating is perfectly normal, and has its uses. It helps the body keep cool.

When the temperature rises, the nervous system automatically triggers the sweat glands.

According to the National Organisation of Rare Disease (NORD), the cause of primary hyperhidrosis is unknown, although some experts claim that it is caused due to overactivity of the nerves responsible for signaling the sweat glands.

It also may have a hereditary component as it seems to run in families.

With anxiety or nervousness, the issue may get worse for many. Other factors that play a role include certain foods and drinks, nicotine and caffeine.

According to doctors at Mayo Clinic, secondary hyperhidrosis usually occurs from an underlying medical condition.

Conditions that can cause hyperhidrosis include:

  • Cancer

  • Low blood sugar

  • Diabetes

  • Heart Attack

  • Nervous Sytem disorders

  • Thyroid problems

  • Few infections such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis

  • Some medications like NSAIDs, Opioids,Insulin, Tricylic antidepressants

  • Menopause hot flashes

Hyperhidrosis: Signs and Symptoms 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, if a person suffers from hyperhidrosis, he may experience symptoms like:

  • Frequent sweating, usually unrelated to heat or exercise

  • Clammy palms

  • Clammy soles of the feet

  • Noticeable sweat soaking through clothes

  • Sweating that hinders the daily activities

  • The skin turns white, soft and peels off easily

  • skin infections like athlete's foot and jock itch

  • Focal sweating in organs like hands, feets, groin, armpits

Ypu must seek immediate medical help if the excessive sweating is accompanied by chest pain, lightheadedness or nausea.

Hyperhidrosis: Diagnosis 

In order to make a diagnosis, a doctor will review your medical history and ask questions or details about your sweating, such as location, time pattern, triggers like remembering a traumatic event or any other symptoms.

The doctor may try to rule out any underlying condition by taking blood, urine or other lab tests.

Sweat tests may be carried out including iodine-starch test, skin conductance or thermoregulatory sweat test to pinpoint areas of sweating and estimate the severity of the condition may also be carried out.

Hyperhidrosis: Treatment 

If hyperhidrosis is triggered by an underlying condition, the condition must be treated first. If no cause is found, the goal of the treatment will typically be to control excessive sweating. Treatment options may include:

  • Prescription antiperspirants with 10-20 percent of aluminium chloride.

  • Prescription medicines called anticholinergics.

  • Botulinum toxin injection.

  • Iontophoresis in which the hands and feet are placed in water and then a gentle electric current is passed through it.

  • In severe cases where the patient does not respond to other treatment, Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is carried out.

  • Doctors may also recommend surgeries if needed which may be permanent and carry a few risks. Such surgeries include removal of sweat glands from armpits, laser, curettage, excision, liposuction, etc

  • Other lifestyle changes like regular bathing, arpit shields, shoes and socks made of natural material, change of clothes and socks regularly can also help control excessive sweating.

(This article is for your general information only. Before trying out any remedy and treatment, FIT advises you to consult a qualified medical professional.)

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