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Overview of Excessive Sweating: Meaning, symptoms, causes, and treatment

TeamAckoJan 17, 2024

Excessive Sweating (ES), also known as Hyperhidrosis (HPD), might happen in specific areas of the body, like the underarms, palms, or feet, or it can be widespread and affect the entire body. HPD can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, interfering with daily tasks and social interactions. It is a prevalent condition that affects lots of people and can be controlled by various kinds of medications and lifestyle adjustments. This article will highlight the causes of ES, symptoms, and several effective treatments that can help you feel more at ease and confident in your daily life.




What is Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)?

Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) is a condition in which the body produces more sweat than is required to regulate body temperature. HPD is a condition that causes ES. 

ES can occur in unexpected circumstances, such as a cooler environment, or without any apparent trigger. Other medical problems may include menopause, hyperthyroidism, physical activity, or anxiety. Managing the symptoms of HPD can be a persistent challenge for many people.

Causes of Excessive Sweating

Sweating is a natural reaction to certain conditions, such as hot weather, physical exertion, stress, and emotions such as fear or frustration. You sweat more than usual for no obvious reason if you have Hyperhidrosis. The underlying reason is determined by the type of HPD you have.

1. Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

Any significant underlying condition does not cause primary focal Hyperhidrosis. The problem may occur due to a genetic element. This type of HPD is caused by the hyperactivity of nerves that signal your sweat glands.

This is not caused by a rise in body temperature or physical exercise. Stress and anxiety exacerbate the condition. This causes sweating in the palms, soles, and, in rare cases, the face. It typically begins in childhood. 

2. Secondary Generalised Hyperhidrosis

Secondary generalised HPD is sweating induced by a medical condition or a side effect of some drugs. It usually starts in adulthood. With this type, you may sweat all over your body or just in one part. You might also sweat while sleeping. Below are some potential medical conditions that may cause secondary generalised HPD.

  • Cardiac disease

  • Cancer

  • Lung disease

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Stroke

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Adrenal gland disorders

  • Tuberculosis

  • HIV

  • Menopause

Several prescription and over-the-counter medications can also induce HPD. ES can be a side effect of antidepressants such as desipramine (Norpramin), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and protriptyline.

Symptoms of Excessive Sweating

Following are the symptoms of primary focal Hyperhidrosis.

  • ES that may persist for at least six months for no apparent cause

  • Sweating that happens on both sides of your body at least once a week

  • Sweating that disrupts your everyday activities

  • Heavy sweating that started when you were under the age of 25

  • No sweating during your sleep

Sweating excessively in one location or all over might indicate secondary generalised Hyperhidrosis. It is essential to consult with your doctor to determine the root cause of your issue. Some of the conditions connected with ES might be life-threatening. Inform your doctor if you are suffering any other weird signs in addition to sweating.

When to consult a doctor for Excessive Sweating?

Sweating excessively can be an indication of a potentially hazardous illness. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

  • Weight loss with sweating

  • Sweating that occurs mostly during sleeping

  • Fever-induced sweating, chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, a feeling of chest pressure, and a rapid heart rate

  • Persistent and inexplicable sweating

Diagnosing Hyperhidrosis

Most healthcare professionals will make a diagnosis of primary Hyperhidrosis after taking history and physical examination. They may, however, undertake additional tests, such as blood and urine tests, if necessary. Some other tests to diagnose ES may include the ones listed below.

  • Starch-iodine test: Iodine is applied to the sweating area during a starch-iodine test. When the iodine dries, starch is sprinkled on it. If the starch becomes a deep blue, you may have HPD. 

  • A paper test: It involves placing a certain type of paper on the sweating area. After absorbing your sweat, the paper is weighed. A higher weight indicates that you have Hyperhidrosis.

  • A thermoregulatory test: Just like the starch-iodine test, this test also involves a particular powder that is moisture sensitive. Where there is ES, the powder changes colour.

Treatment for Excessive Sweating

There are several treatment options for Excessive Sweating. Here’s a list. 

1. Specialised antiperspirant

Your doctor may advise you to use an antiperspirant containing aluminium chloride. This antiperspirant is more potent than over-the-counter antiperspirants and is often prescribed to treat minor symptoms of Hyperhidrosis. Before going to bed, apply them to the affected skin.

2. Iontophoresis

Currents are applied to your hands, feet, or armpits in order to temporarily obstruct your sweat glands.

3. Botox (botulinum toxin)

Acute Hyperhidrosis may be treated with Botox injections. They inhibit the nerves that regulate the sweat glands. This treatment usually requires numerous injections before it becomes effective. This treatment has an effect lasting 6 to 12 months.

4. Surgery for Excessive Sweating

In extreme cases of Hyperhidrosis, surgical techniques may be recommended. The treatment consists of the following procedures.

  • Microwave therapy: It focuses on the destruction of sweat glands. It may lead to changes in skin sensations as well as pain.

  • Photodynamic therapy: It is a three-step treatment that helps to lower the severity of HPD.

  • Sweat gland removal: Removing sweat glands from areas of excessive sweating, such as the armpits, may help ease symptoms. 

  • Sympathectomy: Your surgeon will cut, burn up, or constrict the nerves that regulate your hands' sweat production.

Prevention of Excessive Sweating

To lessen the risk of Hyperhidrosis, you may practise the following preventive measures.

  • Before going to bed, apply an antiperspirant. These restrict the sweat glands and prevent sweat from approaching the skin's surface.

  • Wear clothing that is comfortable and airy. Wearing light clothes with appropriate ventilation will help you stay calm and relax your body.

  • Caffeine should be avoided since it stimulates the adrenal glands. This produces sweating in the palms, feet, and other places.

  • Take regular baths and thoroughly dry yourself to avoid the accumulation of microorganisms caused by sweat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of FAQs related to Excessive Sweating.


What is the most effective treatment for Excessive Sweating?

Your doctor may advise you to use the following treatment options to treat ES.

  • Use an antiperspirant containing aluminium chloride.

  • Iontophoresis in order to temporarily obstruct your sweat glands.

  • Anticholinergic medications work by blocking the action of acetylcholine, which helps stimulate your sweat glands.

  • Botox injections inhibit the nerves that regulate the sweat glands.

  • Surgery that includes microwave therapy, photodynamic therapy, sweat gland removal, and sympathectomy.

What conditions cause Excessive Sweating?

The potential health conditions that may cause ES are listed below.

  • Cardiac disease

  • Cancer

  • Lung disease

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Stroke and Parkinson’s disease

  • Adrenal gland disorders

  • Tuberculosis and HIV

  • Menopause

  • Some antidepressants, such as desipramine (Norpramin), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and protriptyline.

Can relaxing techniques help in case of Excessive Sweating?

Practising relaxing techniques such as yoga, pranayama, and meditation can be helpful to an extent. 


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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