Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that occurs even in lower temperatures and when not exercising. In some cases of hyperhidrosis, the sweat literally drips off the hands.
Hyperhidrosis typically affects the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and underarms. The condition may disrupt daily activities and it can cause social anxiety and embarrassment.
Initial treatment options involve prescription-strength antiperspirants on the affected areas. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the sweat glands or to disconnect the nerves responsible for overproduction of sweat.
Healthy people sweat during exercising or when they are in a hot environment or if they are nervous, anxious or under stress. The excessive sweating associated with hyperhidrosis exceeds such normal sweating.
Symptoms of hyperhidrosis usually involve excessive sweating in the hands, feet, underarms and sometimes the face. Episodes of excessive sweating usually occur at least once a week without an obvious reason.
Sweating is the body’s mechanism to cool itself. The nervous system stimulates the sweat glands to produce sweat when the body temperature rises. Sweating also occurs, especially on the palms, when one is anxious or nervous.
In hyperhidrosis, the nerves responsible for stimulating the sweat glands become overactive and trigger more perspiration even when it is not necessary. The condition may worsen under stress.
Hyperhidrosis that initially occurs in the palms and soles of the feet may have a genetic cause because the condition sometimes runs in families.
On the other hand, excessive sweating over the entire body may be caused by an underlying health condition, including:
- Low blood sugar
- Menopause hot flashes
- Heart attack
- Overactive thyroid gland
- Infectious disease
- Certain medications
- Certain types of cancer
Potential complications of hyperhidrosis may include:
- Infections: excessive sweating can lead to skin infections
- Other skin conditions: certain skin conditions (eczema, skin rashes and skin inflammation) occur more often in people with hyperhidrosis
- Social and emotional problems: interference with daily activities and social anxiety and embarrassment