Hyperhidrosis is a condition that occurs when someone sweats a lot despite there being no physical demand or need for it.  This usually occurs throughout waking hours, with certain areas generally more affected than others. There are different states of hyperhidrosis, not everyone will suffer in the same way.

Primary Hyperhidrosis

This is when the excessive sweating occurs in all normal sweat areas, such as the armpits, palms and feet.  Generally this will start when you are a teenager, and will be a long-term problem.  Little is known about the problem, and why it occurs is not fully understood. Some people believe that it is a genetic problem, and it has been noted that often those who suffer are related to someone else with the problem of hyperhidrosis.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis

Sometimes hyperhidrosis occurs in specifically located areas of the body, often not where you would imagine sweat to cause a serious problem.  This can appear at any time in your life, and may be a result of a medical problem or a response to drugs or treatment.  This might be very strange, for example a located area of the arm that sweats a lot.  There are many medical reasons for this occurring, such as diabetes, poisoning, hormone levels changing or thyroid problems. 

A variation of Secondary Hyperhidrosis called Generalised Hyperhidrosis means that you have excess sweating all over your body, not limited to one specific area. This is most likely to be caused by a medical problem and will respond once this has been treated.  It is rare but some people with primary Hyperhidrosis might find that their sweating occurs all over their body rather than in certain places.

Hyperdrosis can vary in strength, from one isolated area of sweat to a really large problem covering most of your body.  Currently there are no known causes of Primary Hyperhidrosis, and the disorder can cause real concerns to those who suffer from it.  Secondary Hyperhidrosis is more easily understood and treated, mostly being linked to a medical problem that you will have.

Body Areas

Hyperhidrosis can occur all over your body or can be specific to particular areas of your body.

Known as Axillary Hyperhidrosis, underarm sweating can prove highly visible due to its location, and can heighten any bad odours.  The underarms are a very common area to suffer from hyperhidrosis, but generally strong antiperspirants work well to help reduce the amount of sweat in this area.

Hyperhidrosis on the feet, (plantar hyperhidrosis), can lead to problems with fungal infections such as athletes foot.

Sweaty palms, or palmer hyperhidrosis, can cause even simple tasks to be almost impossible.  Handshakes can be embarrassing and the condition can prove problematic to social situations.

Hyperhidrosis can also occur on your face or head, causing you to look flushed and hot.  This area is difficult to cover up if you are suffering from excessive sweating and can cause a real loss of confidence.  Make-up often smudges and rarely helps to cover up the sweat.

Often the skin over a wound is damaged so that the sweating is irregular and can cause an increase in perspiration.  This is common with skin that has been affected by surgical procedure, and can cause real problems if you are using a prosthetic limb.  This form of hyperhidrosis is also referred to as compensatory sweating.

It might be the case that you suffer from sweating a lot all over your body, and the problem cannot be pinned down to one or two specific areas.  This is also known as generalised Hyperhidrosis.

Excess sweating can occur all over your body, and each area contains different problems or risks.  Most can be treated, although need to be dealt with in different ways.  It doesn’t matter where your Hyperhidrosis occurs, any form can knock your confidence and prevent your participation in many different social situations. 

Medical Reasons for Excessive Sweating

Secondary Hyperhidrosis can be a symptom that there is a larger medical problem occurring.  There are many different conditions that can cause hyperhidrosis, varying in seriousness.

  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Thyroid activity
  • Cancers
  • Anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

If you suddenly find yourself sweating more than is usual, or you find that certain areas of your body are starting to sweat with increasing regularity it might be a sign that something more serious is wrong and you ought to seek medical help.  Your doctor is likely to give you a thorough examination to determine the cause of your secondary hyperhidrosis, and once the cause has been treated often the condition dissipates. 

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