It’s summertime. That means hot, humid days and leads to perspiration. But there is such a thing as “excessive sweating”, a medical condition called “hyperhidrosis.” The word means too much (hyper) sweating (hidrosis).
Excessive sweating happens when a person sweats more than is necessary. Yes, it’s necessary to sweat. Sweating cools the body, which prevents us from overheating. People who have hyperhidrosis, however, sweat when the body does not need cooling.
Many people who have hyperhidrosis sweat from one or two areas of the body. Most often, they sweat from their palms, feet, underarms, or head. While the rest of the body remains dry, one or two areas may drip with sweat.
This excessive sweating can interfere with everyday activities. Hands can be so sweaty that it becomes difficult to turn a doorknob or use a computer. Sweat from the underarms often soaks through clothes, causing obvious sweat marks. Because the skin is often wet, skin infections can develop.
It’s difficult to say how many people suffer from excessive sweating. Many never see a doctor. Some are too embarrassed to talk with a doctor. Others do not realize that it’s a treatable medical condition. Dermatologists estimate that 3% of people in the United States have excessive sweating.
While the condition is not contagious, some people are more likely to get hyperhidrosis. Researchers have learned that most people have one of the following:
- A family member who sweats excessively.
- A medical condition that causes the sweating.
- A medicine or food supplement they take, which can cause excessive sweating.
When the excessive sweating occurs in one or two areas of the body, it’s likely that a family member also has this condition.
Many medical conditions can cause excessive sweating. These include diabetes, gout, a tumor or injury. Women often sweat excessively when they get hot flashes during menopause. The cause is obvious. Some women, however, develop excessive sweating after they have gone through menopause, which does not have an obvious cause.
Whether you live in a cold climate or a warm one, you can have hyperhidrosis. People of all races contract it. The excessive sweating can begin at any age. For many, it begins when they are a child or teen. Dermatologists believe that more children and adolescents have this condition than are diagnosed.
Certain nerves tell the body when to sweat. It’s possible that these nerves overreact, causing excessive sweating.
Dermatologists continue to study what causes this condition. They also continue improve treatments. If excessive sweating interferes with your life, I suggest you see a board-certified dermatologist. Many effective treatments are available.