Hyperhidrosis

Definition

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition in which a person sweats excessively and unpredictably. People with hyperhidrosis may sweat even when the temperature is cool or when they are at rest.

Causes

Sweating helps the body stay cool. In most cases, it is perfectly natural. People sweat more in warm temperatures, when they exercise, or in response to situations that make them nervous, angry, embarrassed, or afraid.

Excessive sweating occurs without such triggers. People with hyperhidrosis appear to have overactive sweat glands. The uncontrollable sweating can lead to significant discomfort, both physical and emotional.

When excessive sweating affects the hands, feet, and armpits, it is called primary or focal hyperhidrosis. In most cases, no cause can be found. It seems to run in families.

If the sweating occurs as a result of another medical condition, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. The sweating may be all over the body or it may be in one area. Conditions that cause secondary hyperhidrosis include:

Symptoms

The primary symptom of hyperhidrosis is wetness.

Exams and Tests

Visible signs of sweating may be noted during a visit with a health care provider. Tests may also be used to diagnose excessive sweating, including:

You may also be asked details about your sweating, such as:

Treatment

A wide range of common treatments for hyperhidrosis includes:

Outlook (Prognosis)

With treatment, hyperhidrosis can be managed. Your provider can discuss treatment options with you.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have sweating:


Review Date: 4/14/2017
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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