Hyperhidrosis or Excessive Sweating

Arms | Endocrinology and Metabolism | Hyperhidrosis or Excessive Sweating (Symptom)


Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a common disorder which produces a lot of unhappiness. Underarm problems tend to start around puberty, while palm and sole sweating may begin earlier, often during childhood. Untreated, these problems may continue throughout life.

Hyperhidrosis can either be generalized or localized to specific parts of the body. Hands, feet, armpits, and the groin area are among the most active regions of perspiration due to the relatively high concentration of sweat glands; however, any part of the body may be affected.

Affected people are constantly aware of their condition and try to modify their lifestyle to accommodate this problem. This can be disabling in professional, academic and social life, causing embarrassments. Many routine tasks become impossible chores, which can psychologically drain these individuals.


In most cases, the cause of hyperhidrosis is unknown. Some known causes include: obesity; hormonal changes associated with menopause; illnesses associated with fever, such as infection or malaria; an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism); diabetes; certain medications.

Hyperhidrosis can have physiological consequences such as cold and clammy hands, dehydration, and skin infections secondary to maceration of the skin. Hyperhidrosis can also have devastating emotional effects on one’s individual life.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The approach to treating hyperhidrosis generally consists in: antiperspirants (containing aluminum chloride may be more effective); prescription-strength antiperspirants (containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate); Iontophoresis (device passing direct electricity through the skin using tap water);oral medications (anticholinergics, which reduce sweating); surgery (cervical sympathectomy, as a last resort).