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Hyperhidrosis/Excessive Sweating


Sweat is the body’s natural cooling mechanism.  It is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system which is part of the body’s which is part of the body’s autonomic nervous system, and is in charge of maintaining homeostasis within the body.

Mostly, sweating is natural and healthy, but some people produce more sweat than is necessary to adequately cool the body.  Excessive sweating is called hyperhidrosis.  This condition typically affects the underarms, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet.  Hyperhidrosis can be can be embarrassing as sweat that soaks through clothes and dripping sweat from the palms of hands is often associated with the condition.

There are two types of hyperhidrosis:

Focal hyperhidrosis and general hyperhidrosis.  Focal hyperhidrosis usually affects the palms, soles of feet and underarms.  It is usually not associated with any underlying condition and may have a genetic component. Episodes usually happen during waking hours and tend to start before age 20.

Generalized hyperhydrosis affects large areas of the body and while it can occur for no apparent reason, it also may be associated with underlying causes such as medication, low blood sugar, overactive thyroid, heart attack, infectious disease, lymphoma, and menopause hot flashes.

Treatments

You and your doctor can discuss the variety of treatment options:

Prescription antiperspirant: These antiperspirants have a higher concentration of the active ingredient: aluminum chloride.

Iontophoresis: In this procedure, a battery-powered device is used to deliver an electrical current to the problem area while the person’s body is immersed in water.  This treatment is thought to temporarily block sweat glands.

Botox: In cases where patients have tried the above treatments, insurance may cover this treatment.  Botox is used to block nerve signals to overactive sweat glands resulting in reduced sweat production.

Surgery: In rare, extreme cases, surgery may be an option.  If excessive sweating is a problem primarily in the armpits, sweat glands may be surgically removed.  Another procedure involves severing the nerves that carry signals to the sweat glands.