Sweating is your body’s natural and healthy method of cooling itself down. However, someone can sweat in greater amounts than needed, a condition known as hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is defined as sweating that disrupts your normal activities. This excessive and constant sweating typically occurs on the palms, soles of the feet, and underarms. There are various treatment options available.
Symptoms of hyperhidrosis include frequently heavy sweating that may soak through clothing and a clammy feeling in the palms or soles of the feet due to perspiration. This heavy sweating typically occurs at least once a week without warning and may hinder daily activities.
Hyperhidrosis occurs when your body’s temperature regulation system is inconsistent, leading to overstimulation of the sweat glands. The two types of hyperhidrosis, known as focal hyperhidrosis and generalized hyperhidrosis, each have different causes.
Focal hyperhidrosis affects specific areas of the area, such as the palms, soles and underarms. Sweating on the palms and soles is typically a result of emotional stress, which may cause overstimulation of sweat glands. Genetics may also play a role since the condition often runs in families. Focal hyperhidrosis is not usually associated with an underlying condition. Generalized hyperhidrosis affects large areas of the body and can occur without warning. Adjusting your medications or treating an underlying disease may help resolve generalized sweating.
Complications of hyperhidrosis include the following:
- Fungal nail infections – Because fungi prefer the warm, moist environments that result from sweating, infections can easily occur. A nail infection usually begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the nail. The nail may later discolor, thicken and have crumbling edges. The nail may separate from the nail bed, causing the skin around it to become red and swollen.
- Bacterial infections and warts – May occur around hair follicles or between the toes
- Additional skin disorders – Skin disorders like eczema and rashes may occur more frequently since excessive sweating can lead to skin inflammation
Prescription antiperspirant: Antiperspirant can be applied at night to the affected areas until improvements show in about one week. Side effects include irritated or swollen skin, which can be treated with hydrocortisone cream.
Anticholinergic drugs: Anticholinergics block acetylcholine, the chemical that helps stimulate sweat glands. Conditions should improve within two weeks. Side effects include dry mouth, constipation, blurry vision, urinary retention, loss of taste, and dizziness. Serious effects such as diarrhea, hives, or difficulty breathing require immediate medical attention.
Iontophoresis: This safe method of maintenance therapy uses a device that sends a small amount of electric current to the affected area while the person is immersed in water, temporarily blocking sweat glands. It is performed for 15 to 30 minutes each day for two weeks.
Botox Injection: Botox can be injected into the nerves that trigger sweat glands, temporarily immobilizing them. The results typically last 6 months.
Fusiform excision: This surgical procedure removes both skin and underlying sweat glands and has proven to be extremely successful. However, a large scar is usually left over from the procedure.
LaserDry: LaserDry is a new minimally-invasive procedure that removes sweat glands with laser liposuction. There is an 80 to 90 percent success rate, although not all the glands may be removed.
Mini Excision : A small bit of skin is removed while the surrounding skin is undermined with removal of sweat glands using the curette method or laser liposuction. The resulting scars are small and barely noticeable.
ETS Surgery: Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is the most invasive treatment that surgically cuts the thoracic sympathetic chain to permanently prevent sweating. This option usually limited to patients who do not respond to other forms of treatment.