Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. Your body sweats to regulate its temperature. The amount of sweating is controlled by your sympathetic nervous system.
If this system over-active you may sweat more than you need to. Sweating is normal if you're hot or do exercise, but you may be sweating excessively if you're sweating when your body doesn't need to cool down. Hyperhidrosis can get worse if you are under stress or in a very warm area.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis:
- Primary - This type is more common and the cause is not known. The condition can happen all the time, or every now and then. Usually the condition starts when you are a child or teenager, and may last all your life
- Secondary - this type causes sweating all over your body. It is usually caused by a disease that affects your endocrine (hormonal) system such as diabetes or having an over-active thyroid gland. It can also be caused by certain cancers, the menopause and obesity.
How is hyperhidrosis treated?
There are several treatments for hyperhidrosis:
- Special antiperspirants - these address underarm hyperhidrosis by making sweat thicker which causes your pores to block
- Iontophoresis - uses a small electric current to stop sweat glands from working. However the effect is only temporary and the treatment needs to be repeated at least every week
- Injections - block the nerves that control the sweat glands. The injections need to be repeated about every 6 months. The body can develop resistance to the drugs used, making the treatment less effective over time. There are risks associated with the long-term use injections
- Medication - oral medication to stop your sweat glands from being stimulated
- Thoracoscopic sympathectomy - a surgical procedure to cut or clamp the sympathetic nerves.
Related tests and scans
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