Sweat is an unfortunate hassle that everyone has to deal with at some point. However, what if the sweating is more extreme than that of your peers who are doing the same activity (or lack thereof) as you? Well, then there’s a chance it could be hyperhidrosis.
What Is Hyperhidrosis?
According to Mayo Clinic, “hyperhidrosis is abnormally excessive sweating that's not necessarily related to heat or exercise.” Hyperhidrosis can cause you to sweat through your clothes which can cause social anxiety.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis:
- Primary focal (essential) hyperhidrosis occurs when the nerves that communicate with your sweat glands become overreactive even when there hasn’t been an increase in activity or temperature.
- Secondary hyperhidrosis is typically a symptom of a separate health issue.
Symptoms of Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis that occurs in the hands, feet, face, or armpits tends to occur about once per week while you’re awake. Hyperhidrosis is not just average amounts of sweat. The amount of sweat someone with hyperhidrosis experiences is significantly more extreme than that of someone without hyperhidrosis.
If you start to experience these symptoms and they start interfering with your everyday life or if you start experiencing night sweats for no logical reason, it may be best to pay your doctor a visit.
According to Mayo Clinic, it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention if you feel lightheaded, nauseous, or any chest pain accompanying the symptoms of hyperhidrosis. These could be signs of other serious medical conditions.
What Causes Hyperhidrosis?
Primary hyperhidrosis has no known medical cause. It is believed to be connected to genetics because it can run in families. The symptoms have been shown to be exacerbated by anxiety, nervousness, or physical activity.
According to Mayo Clinic, secondary hyperhidrosis can be caused by a wide variety of medical conditions including:
- Menopausal hot flashes
- Thyroid problems
- Low blood sugar
- Some types of cancer
- Heart attack
- Nervous system disorders
Treatment for Hyperhidrosis
There are a wide variety of methods that may be used to treat hyperhidrosis. Your doctor will be able to determine the best form of treatment for your needs.
For example, your doctor may consider prescribing prescription-based antiperspirants, prescription creams, nerve-blocking medications, antidepressants, or botox.
Antiperspirants and Creams
Antiperspirants prescribed by doctors are often used for hyperhidrosis that’s experienced in the underarms. These are usually applied at night to the affected area, and then they’re washed off in the morning. This cannot be applied to the face/head because it can damage your eyes. Instead, to treat facial sweating, doctors may decide to prescribe facial creams.
Nerve-blocking medications can help prevent nerves from communicating with sweat glands and other parts of the body that may cause symptoms of hyperhidrosis. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed as well because some of them can help prevent excessive sweating. Botox is used occasionally because it can help block the nerves responsible for excessive sweating for about six to twelve months after a series of injections.
There are also other medical procedures that may be considered. In extreme circumstances, a doctor may decide to perform surgery on someone with hyperhidrosis. Surgeries on the nerves, or a sympathectomy, may be performed to control the nerves that are in charge of hand sweat. If you’re experiencing excessive sweating in your armpits, doctors may decide to remove the sweat glands from there altogether.
Microwave therapy is another type of treatment they may consider performing. According to Mayo Clinic, “a device that delivers microwave energy is used to destroy sweat glands. Treatments involve two 20- to 30-minute sessions, three months apart.” There are potential side effects to this treatment that may cause some discomfort in your skin.
Hyperhidrosis can cause some social discomfort as well. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional. A mental health professional will be able to teach you how to cope with your emotions, and learn how to process them throughout your treatment process.
Stress can exacerbate the excessive sweating that comes with hyperhidrosis, so practicing meditation, calm hobbies, or other relaxing techniques may be helpful. Your psychological health is just as important as your physical health!
The best way to address hyperhidrosis is to see a medical professional. They’ll be able to tell you whether it’s just primary focal hyperhidrosis, or whether or not it could be indicative of a more severe health issue.
Your doctor will be able to provide you with a treatment plan catered to your symptoms and your needs. Also, seeking help from a mental health professional may help you cope with any social anxiety you may have experienced due to your experiences with hyperhidrosis (it is also good for your overall mental health as well).
Dealing with excessive sweating can be stressful and uncomfortable, but tackling it head-on by seeking professional treatment is the best way to treat hyperhidrosis.