Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. It can be an embarrassing and serious problem. It can affect social, professional, and intimate relationships.
The sweating may be in just one area. It is most common in the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and/or armpits. In some cases, the sweating can also affect the entire body. Hyperhidrosis is divided into two categories:
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Primary hyperhidrosis may be triggered by:
Secondary hyperhidrosis may be caused by conditions such as:
Factors that increase your chance of secondary hyperhidrosis are the conditions that cause it (listed above).
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
A starch-iodine test is often used on the armpits. It may be used to determine the areas with the most active sweat glands.
Tests may be done if your doctor is concerned that you may have a specific medical condition.
To help decrease the uncomfortable feeling and odor associated with sweating, try:
A number of treatments can be applied to decrease sweating in a particular area. These include:
Medications are usually used for secondary hyperhidrosis. They are rarely used due to their side effects, but may include:
This is the toxin produced by the bacteria that causes botulism. Injections of this toxin can decrease sweating in certain areas. It is often used on the palms of the hands and armpits. The effect of one cycle of injections may last for 6-8 months for most patients.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
International Hyperhidrosis Society
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Local injection of botulinum toxin A for palmar hyperhidrosis: usefulness and efficacy in relation to severity. Yamashita N, Shimizu H, Kawada M, Yanagishita T, Watanabe D, Tamada Y, Matsumoto Y. J Dermatol. 2008;35(6):325-329.
Saenz JW, Sams RW 2nd, et al. FPIN's clinical inquiries. Treatment of hyperhidrosis. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(4):465-466.
Solish N, Bertucci V, et al. A comprehensive approach to the recognition, diagnosis, and severity-based treatment of focal hyperhidrosis: recommendations of the Canadian Hyperhidrosis Advisory Committee. Dermatol Surg. 2007;33(8):908–923.
Treatment of hyperhidrosis. Dermatologic Clinics. 1998 Oct.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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