There are many definitions for hyperhidrosis, but in general it is excessive sweating of one or more area of the body or sometimes the whole body. People who suffer from excessive sweating will tell you that it affects their social and professional lives and can lead to isolation and even depression.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis: Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis and Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis.
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
This condition affects a very specific body part and is not caused by a medical condition or the side effects of any medication. The excessive sweating is the medical condition itself and usually starts in childhood and or adolescence and may be inherited. It occurs at least once a week and not while sleeping.
The affected areas are usually symmetric and common to the face, neck, hands, underarms, and feet. However, it can affect more than one area, especially patients with sweaty palms.
An easy classification to help you self diagnose the condition is to answer yes to two or more of the following questions if you had visible excess sweat for at least six months without an apparent cause:
- Do you experience sweating in the same area on both sides of the body?
- Does the sweating impair your daily activities?
- Do you experience excessive sweating at least once a week?
- Did the sweating start before the age of 25?
- Is there positive family history of excessive sweating?
- Do you stop sweating when you are sleeping?
Treatments currently available:
- Botulinum toxin injections
- Laser treatments
Botulinum Toxin Treatment
The most common areas to treat are underarms, hands, feet, scalp and face.
The area mostly treated with Botulinum toxin is the armpit. A hyper diluted toxin is injected superficially after the area is numbed. It takes less than 30 min to do the entire procedure. Results last up to one year and you should have 60% less sweating than before.
Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis
This condition is more complicated and affects larger areas of the body. It usually starts in adulthood and has secondary causes like underlying medical conditions or side effects from medication. Your doctor will need your medical history, perform an examination and conduct the relevant tests to determine the cause as well as the appropriate treatment.
Health conditions that may cause excessive sweating include:
- Diabetic hypoglycemia
- Endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart)
- Fever of undetermined cause
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Heart attack
- Heat exhaustion
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Medication side effects, such as sometimes experienced when taking some beta blockers and antidepressants
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma