What is hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is sweating when your body does not need to cool down. It usually affects body sites with the most sweat glands, such as the armpits, palms, soles and head and neck area. It tends to start in late childhood and adolescence and lasts many years. It can negatively affect quality of life and make you feel embarrassed.
What causes hyperhidrosis?
In most cases there is no clear cause. It is thought to be due to over activity of the nerves that trigger the sweat glands. Sometimes hyperhidrosis can be caused by underlying issues. If excessive sweating occurs when asleep, at an older age (over 25) or affects a wider area of skin an underlying cause is more likely. These include medications, conditions such as diabetes, hormonal factors like the menopause, or infections. Ensure you see your doctor if this applies to you.
How is excessive sweating diagnosed?
The diagnosis of excessive sweating is usually made by the history and examination alone. Occasionally, further tests will be carried out if there is the chance your sweating may be due to a medical condition.
What are the treatment options?
For most available treatments the effect is temporary but some treatments, such as Botox®, can give relief of symptoms for many months.
Products containing high concentrations of aluminium salts are usually tried first. They need to be applied overnight to dry skin and can be quite irritant. Treatment will often depend where on the body the sweating is worse.
- Tap water ionotophoresis – this is used for hyperhidrosis affecting the palms or soles. We offer this treatment at OneWelbeck – click here to find out more.
- Botox ® – is mostly used to control hyperhidrosis under the armpits. We offer this treatment at OneWelbeck – click here to find out more.
- Creams or wipes containing a chemical called glycopyrronium bromide – can be effective for hyperhidrosis that mostly affects the face. The treatment is applied when needed and can last up to several hours.
- Anti-cholinergic tablets – usually oxybutynin or propantheline – can be used for hyperhidrosis. They work by blocking the release of a chemical from nerve endings that trigger sweating. They are taken at least once daily and the effects are temporary. The most common side effect is a dry mouth and this may cause patients to stop the medication.
If an underlying medical issue is found, treating this may lead to an improvement in symptoms