What Is Hyperhidrosis – Excessive Sweating?

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One memory I will not get rid of is an examination I wrote. It wasn’t that the exam was tough; it was what happened during it. “Introductory Technology” was the name of the subject, and we were asked to make a drawing with specific dimensions on an A4 paper.

Before now, I knew I had sweaty palms and feet, and I always carried a hand towel around, but I guess the urge to be done with the drawing made me forget to use the towel now and then. Just when I was about labeling my drawings,

The A4 paper was soaked, and a slight adjustment from my sweaty hand squeezed and tore a bit of the paper. I was beyond frustrated.

Thankfully my teacher was kind enough to give me extra time to start again. That day was the first time I started asking about my condition and how to get rid of it. I got the name, hyperhidrosis.

What is Hyperhidrosis?

It is a non-life threatening disorder that causes excessive sweating not related to heat or exercise.  The sweats could be so much that it soaks clothes and drips from hands and feet. This condition has its way of affecting normal daily activities and causing embarrassment.

Facts about Hyperhidrosis

  • Researchers have found out that 80% of cases of hyperhidrosis becomes noticeable around the age of 12.
  • The most common areas affected are the armpit (axillae), face, feet (plantar), and hands (palmar hyperhidrosis).
  • Some people have a misconception that hyperhidrosis goes away as people age. Yes, it may disappear in some after a while for others; it could get worse as you age.
  • Another thing observed is that for most, the condition is not affected by the weather condition. So it doesn’t just occur during summer or dry seasons but all year long.
  • Currently, there is no cure for hyperhidrosis. However, a lot of research has been carried out, and there are ways to treat it.
  • Most people with this condition can become socially distant.

Sweating generally occurs when the body is responding to temperature rise. You have a fever while eating spicy foods, during exercise, or for most when they are under stress.

The sweat gland is triggered, producing perspiration that’s carried to the skin’s surface. When these factors go away, the sweating is put on hold.

For people with hyperhidrosis, these factors are not needed to trigger the sweat gland; sweating occurs with no cause.

What are the Types of Hyperhidrosis?

There are majorly two types:

Primary Hyperhidrosis (Focal) –

This is also referred to as the idiopathic, meaning unknown cause. This is because the nerves responsible for signaling the sweat glands are overactive and sends signals without reason.

The sweating gets worse if factors like stress occur. Focal hyperhidrosis is hereditary and usually affects the face, hands, and feet.

People with primary hyperhidrosis often experience excessive sweating in more than one area of the body and affects both the right and left part of the body similarly.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis (Generalized) –

It is always related to a medical condition or is the side effect of some medications. It causes excessive sweating all over the body and is the less common type to occur.

Unlike the focal type that occurs from the teenage age, the generalized hyperhidrosis usually starts at adulthood.

What are the causes of Hyperhidrosis?

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).
  • Low blood sugar
  • Some types of cancer such as Hodgkin’s disease
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Gout
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory failure
  • Shingles
  • Some infections – HIV, malaria, TB (tuberculosis)
  • Substance abuse
  • Menopause
  • Mercury poisoning

One significant difference between the focal and generalized hyperhidrosis is that people with secondary generalized hyperhidrosis may often experience their sweating symptoms while sleeping.

How is Hyperhidrosis Diagnosed?

The doctors will try to determine the type of hyperhidrosis you have by asking questions like what part of your body you sweat, if there are triggers and if you have underlying health conditions or medications. Some tests that can be carried out are:

  • Thermoregulatory sweat test
  • Laboratory Test – to check if a medical condition causes it.
  • Iodine Skin Test
  • Skin Conductance.

Treatment Methods for Hyperhidrosis

As earlier stated, there is no known cure for the disorder. However, treatments are available to make the condition manageable. The affected areas of the body will determine the best treatment method for an individual.

Antiperspirant –

Antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride are usually prescribed by doctors when others fail.

Iontophoresis –

In this process, a painless electric current is passed through water in a bowel with the patient’s hands and feet submerged in it for 20-30minutes.

Botulinum Toxin –

Botox injections are used in blocking the nerves that trigger the sweat glands.

It is also used in the treatment of wrinkles and certain types of headaches. It is an approved treatment method for excessive underarm sweating. This is usually painful as such local anesthesia can be administered

Surgery –

An example is ETS (Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy), which is usually the last resort when the case is severe, and the patient hasn’t responded to other forms of treatment. For the treatment of plantar of feet hyperhidrosis, ETS is not recommended as it can lead to permanent sexual dysfunction.

MiraDry System –

For this method, electromagnetic energy is used in destroying sweat glands in the armpit. It has not been approved for usage in other areas.

Homemade Remedies for Hyperhidrosis

Baking Soda –

Due to its alkaline nature, it can cause sweat to evaporate quickly and also reduce its occurrences. For usage, some spoons of baking soda are mixed with water to form a paste and rubbered over the hands for few minutes then rinsed off.

Apple Cider Vinegar –

Apple cider works to keep the hands dry by balancing the body’s pH. For usage, wipe your hands with it and leave overnight.

Sage leaves –

For the sage leaves, its astringent property is what makes it effective. The hands can be soaked in a mixture of sage leaves and water for 20minutes. It can also help in reducing odor caused by sweating.

Other DIY remedies for Hyperhidrosis

Others include Rosewater, tea bags, lemon, talcum powder, tomato juice.

Living with hyperhidrosis means you have to be selective of some things. Some things, individuals with the condition should consider are :

  • Sock Usage – The thick, soft ones made of natural fiber can help with absorbing moisture.
  • Armpit Shield – This is a pad worn under the arm to absorb the sweats from the armpits.
  • Clothing – When purchasing clothes, textures like nylons should be avoided as they can worsen symptoms.
  • Shoes – Shoes made with natural materials like leather should be considered as against synthetic materials.
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