What is hyperhidrosis?

Types Hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by excessive sweating. Sweating or perspiration is a function of the skin to maintain a constant body temperature. However, hyperhidrosis, or uncontrollable and unpredictable excessive sweating, can make social and work relationships difficult.

People with hyperhidrosis have overactive sweat glands and uncontrollable sweating can cause them great discomfort, both physically and emotionally, affecting their daily lives as the degree increases. Thus, it is common for many people with hyperhidrosis to avoid situations that require physical contact, such as greeting with a handshake. They also tend to limit arm movements and adopt rigid postures to hide underarm sweating. It is also common for such persons to change clothes several times, among other habits.

According to the location, hyperhidrosis can be: axillary, palmoplantar, gustatory or generalized, and according to the extension it can be localized (covering a surface equal to or less than 100cm2) or generalized, when the excess of sweat covers a surface greater than 100cm2.

Symptoms of hyperhidrosis

The symptomatology is obvious: an excess of sweating in different parts of the body without apparent cause and in an uncontrolled manner.

What are the causes of hyperhidrosis?

The causes of hyperhidrosis can be primary or secondary. Primary hyperhidrosis is usually more localized or focal, and the cause is unknown, although it is evident that there is sympathetic hyperactivity and excess of sudomotor response. There are situations of tension and nerves that accentuate the symptoms. Many patients explain that they become nervous when they detect that they break out in a sweat, so it flares up and they sweat more.

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In contrast, secondary hyperhidrosis responds to underlying clinical situations and usually has a more generalized body pattern: it can appear at different times in the patient’s life in relation to different habits, diseases or problems (examples: menopause, certain drugs or medications, thyroid problems, tumors, etc.).

Can it be prevented?

Hyperhidrosis cannot be prevented, at least primary hyperhidrosis. Secondary hyperhidrosis is related to other clinical problems, so if these are controlled perhaps hyperhidrosis can be better controlled.

What is the treatment?

There are currently many different treatments for hyperhidrosis:

  • Treatment of hyperhidrosis with botulinum toxin: It is a comfortable solution that can be applied in armpits, palms of hands and soles of the feet. The toxin is infiltrated through very fine needles and generates a blockage of the function of the sweat glands, thus reducing the production of sweat in those areas. The treatment usually lasts one hour and the effects last for about half a year.
  • Medical-dermatological treatments: Aluminum chlorate is often used as an antiperspirant, but can cause skin irritation. Other anticholinergic substances are also used, but may have side effects.
  • Surgical treatments: One technique is to remove the sweat glands by various methods. Another procedure is endoscopic thoracoscopic endoscopic sympathectomy, which disables the main thoracic nodes of the paravertebral chain, responsible for the innervation of the region to be treated. It is a highly effective technique, but compensatory sweating may occur, with sweating appearing in areas that did not sweat prior to surgery.