What is hyperhidrosis?

Dr Marianne Nolan|General dermatology
20 July 2022


Hyperhidrosis is a recognised condition in which patients sweat excessively. Sweating can occur not only under the arms, but across the body, including the palms, the forehead and feet.

Everyone’s body sweats to keep itself cool. But for some people, especially in the hotter weather, deodorants aren’t effective because their body over-sweats. Nervousness and stress can also increase sweating in hyperhidrosis sufferers.

Is hyperhidrosis a dangerous medical condition?

Hyperhidrosis is not a serious medical condition and treatment is not medically necessary. However, many people experiencing hyperhidrosis find the condition creates social anxiety and causes them to restrict activity, particularly in warmer months.

Hyperhidrosis can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. For this reason, it should be brought to the attention of a medical practitioner, who can determine whether treatment for such a cause is required.

Treatments for hyperhidrosis

Treatment options for hyperhidrosis depend on the severity of the condition.

For some patients, a stronger anti-perspirant that uses ingredients that stop sweat glands from releasing moisture can be effective.

Prescription creams and oral medication can be effective. These can carry side effects which should be explained by the prescribing doctor before you agree to take or use them.

Surgical treatment removes sweat glands from the affected area. While this is considered a minimally invasive surgery, it’s usually only considered when other treatment options have not been successful.

Nerve therapy cuts or clamps the nerves that cause sweating in palms, and can be very effective. However, a side effect can be increased sweating in other areas as the body seeks to compensate.

A rare treatment called microwave therapy can stop sweat glands from producing sweat. This is an expensive treatment and isn’t very common.

The most common treatment, after antiperspirants, is botulinum toxin type A. Similarly to its use in facial treatments to limit muscle movement and reduce frown lines and wrinkles, this injectable can be used in affected areas to relax muscles that cause sweat glands to sweat. Just as with facial use of botulinum toxin type A, the effect of the injections lasts about 3-4 months, and will then need to be repeated.

Important things to know about hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis can be a symptom of serious conditions, such as thyroid conditions, some cancers, heart attacks, diabetes, infections and menopause. These conditions must be ruled out before treatment for excessive sweating itself can be undertaken.

For more information…

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