What is hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is a sweating disorder that occurs when the nerves that communicate with sweat glands activate despite not being triggered by physical activity or temperature.
There are two main types of hyperhidrosis.
The first type of hyperhidrosis is "Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis". This type of hyperhidrosis is 90% of cases. "Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis" can lead to excessive sweating areas at your "focal areas". These areas include your hands, feet, underarms, face, or head. The sweat usually worsens with stress or anxiety.
The second type of hyperhidrosis is "Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis". This type of hyperhidrosis is caused by another medical condition and usually causes excessive sweating in larger areas. A list of diseases/conditions that could lead to secondary hidrosis can be found here.
Do you have hyperhidrosis?
Despite around 3-5% of the American population suffering from this condition, not many know about it with only 51% discussing their condition with a healthcare professional. To see if you have hyperhidrosis, ask yourself these 6 questions. If the answer is yes to at least 2 of these questions, then you could have hyperhidrosisis.
Have you experienced focal visible excess for at least 6 months without apparent cause?
Is your sweat bilateral and relatively symmetrical, meaning you sweat the same on both sides of your body?
Does your excess sweat impair daily activities?
Do you experience at least one episode a week?
Is the onset of your excess sweat earlier than the age of 25?
Do you have a positive history?
Do you stop sweating when you're sleeping?
Despite being a minor condition, hyperhidrosis can cause many physical and mental issues.
First, there are the health risks it provides. Patients with hyperhidrosis have a 30% greater risk of skin infections. Furthermore, 40% of patients experience physical discomfort. Many individuals need to change clothes multiple times a day or often wear gloves to hide the fact that they are not able to control their sweating.
However, the implications for mental health are far greater than the problems of the actual sweat. Hyperhidrosis makes physical contact difficult for its patients and social interactions awkward. Many individuals avoid being physically close to others, afraid of their reactions to this excessive sweat. In a study conducted in the US, 75% of respondents indicated that sweating had negative effects on their social life and mental health. 86% of respondents also reported an emotional impact due to the condition. Another study using 2 scales that commonly measure the prevalence of depression and anxiety found a much higher when patients had hyperhidrosis.
Don't ever feel like you are alone.
There are many different treatments, but the safety of each remedy is up to your own discretion. Most treatment involves suppressing sweat glands or the nerves that trigger sweat glands. Some surgical processes even remove the sweat glands as a whole. Here are a few of the better-known treatments.
Botox Injections. Botulinum toxin is a protein that can be used to block the nerves that emit the chemicals that trigger the sweat glands. Injections of botox can temporarily reduce expressive sweat but the process needs to be re-done regularly.
Iontophoresis. This treatment involves placing affected areas into water while a weak electric current is sent through the water. The treatment has been found to be effective but the reasoning behind why is unknown.
Antiperspirant. Containing metallic salts, usually aluminum zirconium tricholorohydrex. This salt creates a chemical reaction with your sweat, forming a blockage that plugs your sweat glands. This is considered the safest treatment as it only occurs on the surface of your skin. I have personally found success with antiperspirant cream and you may be able to also.
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