As with all human conditions, there is a wide range of “normal”, with some people hardly sweating at all, whilst others sweat to a much larger extent. When the amount of sweating is excessive it is termed “Hyperhidrosis“. There are two main types of Hyperhidrosis.
- Generalised Hyperhidrosis – affecting the whole body. This may have an underlying cause, e.g. thyroid disease. It is sometimes caused by medication, especially some anti-depressants. If this comes on fairly suddenly, it is best to get medical advice.
- Localised Hyperhidrosis. This is far more common and involves excessive sweating of the hands, feet, armpits or face. The cause is unknown, but it can run in families and affects 1% of people.
Excessive sweating usually occurs in specific areas of the body, however it can occur anywhere on the body. Some of the more common areas include:
- Armpit Sweating – also described as sweaty armpits,
- Hand Sweating – also described as sweaty hands, clammy hands, moist hands
- Feet Sweating – also described as sweaty feet, clammy feet, moist feet
- Facial Sweating – also described as sweaty face, blushing, facial blushing
Armpit Sweating – Axillary Hyperhidrosis
Excessive sweating from the armpits (axillae) can be more than just annoying – it can alter the way some people live their lives. People suffering from this find that they have to be very careful about what clothes that they buy or wear, and they are very self conscious in social settings, particularly if hot or if nervous. At work people suffering from this are always conscious of what they are wearing and if they can remove their outer garments – or whether this might reveal embarrassing sweat marks on their clothes. Relief of the condition allows the sufferer a new freedom.
There are a number of ways you can treat armpit sweating including:
- General measures; using the right antiperspirant, lifestyle changes and hypnosis
- Botox injections
Hand Sweating – Palmar Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis of the hand can be a particularly upsetting problem. Having permanently soaking hands can cause people to have difficulty writing on paper without marking it, to hold pens or other implements and to shake hands without undue embarrassment. This can lead to problems at work, home or in education. As such treatment of the condition can lead to a vastly improved quality of life.
Hand sweating can be treated with iontophoresis or with surgery.
Feet Sweating – Plantar Hyperhidrosis
Many people complain of sweaty feet. As the feet spend much of their time in socks and shoes, the problem is less of the moisture produced, but more the smell that occurs from the action of the moisture on the materials of the footwear and also from the bacterial breakdown and overgrowth stimulated by the damp and warm conditions.
Feet sweating can be treated with iontophoresis.
Facial Sweating and/or Flushing
Many of us go red and get a little facially sweaty when embarrassed or when exerting ourselves. However, in some people the facial flushing and blushing is excessive, leading to difficulties in both the work and social situations. Severe facial blushing can make a patient feel so uncomfortable around other people that they start to hide away from social or even work situations. It can cause severe embarrassment and problems at work. This process is controlled by the ANS (Automatic Nerve System), which means that both of these functions are outside of voluntary control.
Facial sweating can be treated by first determining if there is an underlying medical cause. Once this has been determined – or ruled out – there are further treatment options.