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Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Home Remedies

Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Home Remedies

B
Bajaj Finserv Health
August 29th, 2022
9 mins read

Synopsis

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating in several body parts, especially the armpits, palms, face, and feet. However, sweating is a standard body cooling mechanism. But extreme sweating results in embarrassing social stigma. The article discusses the various aspects of the non-medical condition and how to control, if not cure it. 

Key Takeaways

  • Excessive sweating, called hyperhidrosis, starts in childhood or just after attaining puberty in adolescence
  • The condition has no specific origin or, at times, the result of an underlying disease
  • Medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes can control the condition

Hyperhidrosis or abnormal excessive sweating not attributed to heat or exercise can cause severe embarrassment and lead to psychological trauma due to the attached social stigma. Moreover, over-sweating can drench your attire and drip from your hands to disrupt your everyday lifestyle and routines. Though the condition is not life-threatening, you must look for solutions to ease the state and prevent affecting your daily life. However, professional medical help can mitigate your anxiety through medication and therapies. So, let us dig deeper and learn about hyperhidrosis and how to control the condition.

What Is Hyperhidrosis?

Sweating is the body’s physiological cooling mechanism. The nervous system triggers sweat glands when your body temperature rises when you are physically active. And the sweating occurs across the body, whereas a sweating palm is a sign of nervousness.

But, hyperhidrosis, pronounced hi-per-hi-DROE-sis, is a condition where you sweat profusely without heat or physical exercise, the usual triggers for sweating. The state is called “polyhidrosis” or “seborrhea” and can affect a single localized part or the whole body.

However, hyperhidrosis symptoms are most visible in the hands, armpits, groin, and feet due to their high concentration of sweat glands. So hyperhidrosis categories depend on their area of occurrence:

Focal Hyperhidrosis:

Excessive sweating appears in a body part. For example, palmoplantar hyperhidrosis is over-sweating of the palms and soles.

Generalized Hyperhidrosis:

As the name suggests, excessive sweating occurs throughout the body.

Severe hyperhidrosis symptoms can cause acute mental problems impacting the sufferer’s career, leisure activities, lifestyle, personal relationships, and self-esteem. Fortunately, there are several options to treat the condition. But on the flip side, few people seek professional therapy due to embarrassment or lack of awareness about the remedies.

Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis Symptoms

Hyperhidrosis, characterized by heavy sweating, disrupts your daily life. The episodes often occur weekly, affecting your professional and social life. So, it is essential to know when to visit or seek an online doctor consultation with a general physician and discuss the symptoms for a solution. The signs and symptoms of hyperhidrosis present without an apparent reason, which include: [1] 

  • Moist or wet hands and palms 
  • Moist of wet feet and soles 
  • Frequent profuse sweating 
  • Copious sweating that drenches your attire 

While the above are the signs indicating the onset of hyperhidrosis, you may additionally experience the following:  

  • Fungal and bacterial infections lead to painful and irritating skin problems. 
  • Coping with stained clothing 
  • Self-consciousness leads to social withdrawal and depression. 
  • Spend time each day to deal with the heavy sweating like changing clothes frequently, wiping, and placing napkins at the most vulnerable spots on the body 
  • Be conscious about body odor affecting social interactions. 

The above are indicative, and excessive sweating cause many more irritants. Hyperhidrosis manifests at any age, but the primary condition typically appears during childhood or soon after puberty. However, there is no apparent reason for the trigger, but it is usually absent during sleep for people with primary hyperhidrosis. Your doctor may suggest proper diagnostic evaluation and consultation with a dermatologist to address the emerging symptoms.  

Hyperhidrosis Causes

Hyperhidrosis is present from birth or manifests later in life, especially during the teenage years. In addition, hyperhidrosis can trigger due to an underlying medical condition or without apparent cause with the following characteristics.  

  1. Primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis: The characteristic is evident in the name as idiopathic denotes an unknown cause. But, the condition is mainly localized. 
  2. Secondary hyperhidrosis: The trigger for excessive sweating is an underlying health condition.  

After introducing the hyperhidrosis categories, let us learn about each in greater detail.  

Causes of Primary Hyperhidrosis: 

It is not clear how the condition develops but one theory ascribes it to the nervous system and its genes playing a role. So, let us dig deeper.

  • Sympathetic nervous system: Controls most of your body functions without conscious effort. For example, digestion, respiration, excretion, and similar processes are involuntary. The nervous system is also your body’s thermostat regulating temperature. Your brain responds when you feel hot by sending a signal to numerous eccrine or sweat glands to induce sweating to reduce the temperature. But when the sweat glands start receiving alerts for no apparent reason, hyperhidrosis affects the armpits, palms, soles, and the chest where the glands abound.  
  • Genetic: There are instances when hyperhidrosis runs in families, indicating the condition is hereditary. The mutation theory behind the onset affects specific genes and passes down to their progeny.
Hyperhidrosis overview infographics

Causes of Secondary Hyperhidrosis

Unlike the primary, here you can identify the cause. However, the trigger is sudden and affects the whole body. Obesity, gout, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, menopause, or mercury poisoning are the most common ailments causing hyperhidrosis. Besides, the following also trigger excessive sweating.

  • Pregnancy 
  • Anxiety 
  • Certain medications like antidepressants, propranolol, pilocarpine, and bethanechol, to name a few 
  • Withdrawal from drug or alcohol addiction 
  • Infectious diseases like tuberculosis and HIV 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Blood cell or bone marrow disorders such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Additional read: Contact Dermatitis Types 

Hyperhidrosis Diagnosis

Your doctor decides on the approach to diagnosing hyperhidrosis. And the first step for the doctor is to rule out the possibility of underlying conditions. For example, eliminate ailments like overactive thyroid and low blood sugar, which often trigger hyperhidrosis. Next is to ascertain the sweating pattern to understand the occurrence of episodes. So, a questionnaire helps in the process by looking for an answer to the following indicative queries.  

  • Do you carry napkins, towels, pads, etc., to cope with the excessive sweating? 
  • Does the condition affect your behavior when you are in public? 
  • Does hyperhidrosis have an impact on your profession? 
  • Have you lost friends due to the condition? 
  • How often do you shower to cope with hyperhidrosis? 
  • How often do you change your clothes?  

After the initial screening and clinical examination, your doctor prescribes a series of tests to diagnose the condition for an appropriate remedy. 

  • Lab tests: The recommended tests are blood, urine, and other related tests to pinpoint an underlying medical condition causing hyperhidrosis.  
  • Thermoregulatory sweat test: The tests under this category help pinpoint the areas of excessive sweating and estimate the condition’s severity. The process involves using a moisturēsensitive powder that changes color when you sweat excessively at room temperature.

Hyperhidrosis Treatment

After the diagnosis comes the most critical aspect of hyperhidrosis management. Of course, it goes without mentioning that the treatment depends on the evaluation suggested by your treating doctor. So, treating secondary hyperhidrosis caused due to an underlying medical condition is the priority. Contrarily, if the diagnosis reveals an idiopathic origin, the treatment focuses on its control, which may need a combination of solutions. But, the condition may recur even if a sustained treatment delivers marked improvement. Therefore, let us check them out. 

Hyperhidrosis Medications

Based on the diagnosis, several methods and drugs are used to deal with hyperhidrosis. Some critical techniques listed below are:

Medicated antiperspirants:

Doctors prescribe antiperspirants to control the ill effects of over sweating. The antiperspirants contain aluminum chloride, which may cause skin and eye irritation. So, apply the antiperspirant to the affected areas while going to bed and carefully wash it off in the morning as you wake up, without getting into the eyes. Otherwise, cortisone cream provides relief from skin irritation.

Medicated creams:

Your doctor often prescribes a cream containing glycopyrrolate to control hyperhidrosis. The prescription creams are especially effective for excessive sweating affecting the face and head.

Nerve blocking medications:

Sometimes, the doctor prescribes oral medicines to block specific nerves communicating with each other. They are called anticholinergic or antimuscarinic. The treatment is effective for some individuals but has possible side effects like dry mouth, blurred vision, and bladder problems resulting from its application.

Antidepressants:

Medicines usually prescribed for treating depression help reduce hyperhidrosis. Moreover, it also treats anxiety-related problems arising from excessive sweating.

Botulinum toxin:

Botox and Myobloc, among others, temporarily block the nerves that trigger sweating [2]. But its application is a bit complicated as several injections go into the affected areas. Moreover, the skin is first iced and anesthetized before the injection. The effect of the medicine lasts up to a year, after which you must repeat the process. Temporary muscle weakness in the injected area is one of the common side effects.

Surgical and Related Procedures For Hyperhidrosis

Severe cases of hyperhidrosis require surgical intervention besides other procedures to control. Some of the effective surgical procedures are:

Sweat gland removal:

Hyperhidrosis occurs in places where the sweat glands abound. For example, they abound in the underarms, palms, face, feet, and soles. So, removing sweat glands from the affected part helps control the condition. The surgical procedure is a minimally non-invasive suction curettage used when you do not respond to medications.

 Nerve surgery:

In this procedure, the surgeon cuts, clamps, or burns the spinal nerves responsible for excessively sweating hands. But in some cases, the surgical procedure induces excessive sweating in other areas of your body as compensatory sweating. So, a variation sympathectomy interrupts the signals without removing the sympathetic nerve and is equally effective.

Microwave therapy:

Involves a device emitting microwave energy to destroy sweat glands. The treatment comprises 20-30 minute sessions three months apart for an effective outcome. But the treatment is expensive, and the possible side effects change the skin’s sensation.

Home Remedies For Hyperhidrosis

Besides the medical solution for hyperhidrosis, you can try controlling the condition with lifestyle changes and several home remedies. Some crucial techniques worth trying are:

Use antiperspirants:

Non-prescription antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that block the sweat pores. The temporary block reduces the amount of sweat reaching your skin to cope with mild hyperhidrosis.

Apply astringents:

The OTC (over-the-counter) products to the affected areas reduce sweating from the tissue constricting properties of tannic acid (Zilactin).

Bathe every day:

Regular bath is essential for body hygiene. In addition, it keeps skin bacteria at bay. So, drying thoroughly after the bath is equally important, especially under the arms and between the toes.

Wear shoes and socks made from natural materials:

Leather shoes can help you avoid sweaty feet. In addition, cotton socks absorb moisture and allow your feet to breathe.

Change socks often:

Changing your socks often is not only hygienic but also keeps your feet dry. Ensure that you dry and air your feet well, especially between the toes after every change.

Choose attire according to your activity:

Avoid synthetic dress material and use cotton, wool, or silk, allowing your skin to breathe. In addition, use dress materials that absorb moisture while you work out.

Follow a healthy diet regimen:

Spicy and rich foods trigger sweating. In addition, imbibing alcohol is not a good idea as it also starts unnecessary sweating.

Embrace relaxation techniques:

Yoga and meditation are techniques that help relax your mind to ease the stress factors. In turn, you benefit as you are stress-free, avoiding the trigger for sweat.

Hyperhidrosis is a common condition in many individuals for no apparent reason or sometimes due to an underlying medical condition. Though it is not a health hazard, its impact on your life is significant. It leads to embarrassing situations and thus causes mental trauma. The person suffering from excessive sweating can end up in depression with a loss of self-esteem. Fortunately, hyperhidrosis symptoms can be controlled with the help of professionals like dermatologists, prescribing medication, surgeries, or simple lifestyle changes, depending on its severity.  

Book yourself an online doctor consultation with Bajaj Finserv Health and get the best advice on how you can control your hyperhidrosis symptoms.

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