Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) is a common condition, affecting up to 3% of the population, that causes excessive sweating, with serious social, emotional and psychological consequences. Usually there is no underlying pathology (idiopathic hyperhidrosis), but rarely it can be due to serious underlying medical conditions, medications or supplements.. The condition usually tends to run in the family and multiple members may be affected.

What causes hyperhidrosis?

Sweating is a normal response of the body when it needs to cool down. Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, occurs even when the body does not need cooling. Patients with this condition usually experience sweating from armpits, palms, and soles, and rarely from face, scalp, groin folds and inframammary folds. The nerves in the skin signal the body to sweat. In hyperhidrosis these nerves are pathologically overactive.

When should it be treated?

When hyperhidrosis causes significant visible sweating and dripping from your skin, soaking your clothes, even when you are inactive, and interrupts with your normal daily activities, it is time to talk to your dermatologist about treatment options.

What are the treatment options for hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis can be treated with topical over the counter as well prescription strength anti-perspirants that are available in liquid roll-on bottles or as wipes. If these are not successful at controlling the sweating or if the problem area cannot be treated with topical solutions, oral medications can be prescribed which reduce sweating from all over the body. Oral medications generally carry systemic side effects which need to be monitored especially early in the treatment. Iontophoresis is another option that can be used for control of sweating from palms and soles. It passes electric current through a solution to inactivate the sweat glands. BOTOX, or Botulinum toxin injections are also used successfully to help reduce the symptoms.  The injections are placed in palms and soles, at specific intervals, and can be very painful.  Benefits last 4-6 months.  MiraDry is another options which destroys sweat glands in the arm pits and causes reduction in sweating with each successive treatment.

Talk to your dermatologist if you experience excessive sweating so a customized treatment plan that is right for you can be prescribed for you. It is important to communicate all of your symptoms, including any irregular or fast heart beating or night sweats, any family history of excessive sweating, and a list of all medications and supplements that you are taking, at your visit with your dermatologist.