Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. Sweating is necessary to keep the body cool; however, it should not interfere with a person’s ability to interact and function. Hyperhidrosis affects quality of life. It may cause embarrassment and frustration. It can impact one’s ability to carry out routine chores and may be an occupational hazard. There are three types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal, generalized idiopathic, and secondary generalized.
Primary focal hyperhidrosis is a true medical condition not caused by medication or another medical problem. It occurs on specific areas of the body (focal), usually appearing on both sides equally. The most commonly affected areas are the feet, hands, underarms, head, and face. Primary focal hyperhidrosis frequently begins in childhood or adolescence, often starting with excessive sweating on the hands and feet that occurs at least once a week while the person is awake. There may be a hereditary component.
Generalized idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a true medical condition in which large areas of the body sweat. This is usually treated with oral medication.
Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis may be caused by a medical condition, such as menopause, an overactive thyroid, diabetes (peripheral neuropathy), or stroke. Medications (antihypertensives or antidepressants), exercise, and heat also cause secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Unlike primary hyperhidrosis, sweating involves large areas of the body and may occur during sleep. This condition must be investigated by a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Why treat primary hyperhidrosis?
Primary hyperhidrosis may affect a person’s quality of life, interfering with work and social activities. It causes emotional embarrassment and isolates people. It is psychologically unsettling and may be associated with depression and anxiety. Also physically debilitating, it may cause discomfort and skin irritation, which can lead to bacterial and fungal infections.