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Hyperhidrosis Causes and Treatments

Updated on November 28, 2010

Hyperhidrosis is basically the Latin term for profuse or excessive sweating. I should point out that this condition of the endocrine system involves a good deal more than just having sweaty pits following a work out or sporting activity; hyperhidrosis is much, much more pronounced and could include having super sweaty underarms, palms, feet, face, groin, etc. People who have this condition are often embarrassed by the copious perspiration and I think we can all sympathize with their plight. The following information is meant to provide a basic understanding of what causes hyperhidrosis and treatments you can use to help stop sweating excessively.

Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis Causes

This type of profuse sweating is a medical condition in and of itself and is characterized by too much sweat being produced in specific areas. The feet, face, armpits, etc – you may sweat excessively in all of these focal areas, or you may only sweat excessively in one of them. You may have the episodes every day (depending on what type of stressors you’re regularly exposed to) or you may have them less frequently, such as only a few times per month. Onset of symptoms usually takes place by the time one reaches their teenage years. The cause of this type of hyperhidrosis is simply excessive production of sweat beyond that which is required for adequate physical cooling.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis Causes

This type of excessive sweating is actually a side-effect of something else. It may be the symptom of an underlying medical condition, or it may be the direct side-effect of a specific medication. The main differences between Primary and Secondary Hyperhidrosis are these two facts: Primary tends not to create sweating during the night, while Secondary often does; and Primary is experienced in specific areas, while Secondary is generalized and not limited to a focused area.

Treatment of Primary Hyperhidrosis

  • Treatment of excessive sweating usually begins by trying prescription strength antiperspirants. You can try super-strength Maxim or Certain Dri or Drysol (which get very good reviews) or other specially designed deodorants for those with hyperhidrosis, or you could try brands you're already familiar with which have put out a mega-strength antiperspirant, such as Dove, Gilette, Secret, Degree and more. You can even ask your doctor to prescribe something stronger.
  • If heavy-duty antiperspirant doesn’t stop your perspiration problems, Iontophoresis is another alternative, particularly for hands and feet. This is a process during which you hold your hands in special trays of water while a weak electrical current moves through it. It’s not painful, and is said to have a very high success rate when used correctly (your doctor needs to train you how to do this in your home) but if you’re pregnant or have other serious issues this is something you will want to avoid. The Drionic is a popular iontophoresis model.
  • Botox injections are a newish treatment for hyperhidrosis. Localized shots of Botox has been shown to be highly effective (sweating reduced by 50%), with many people seeing the effects last more than half a year at a time.
  • Believe it or not, liposuction or local surgery can be used to remove these sweat glands altogether with often favorable results.
  • Some medications are available for treating hyperhidrosis, but they can have serious adverse effects in the long term and are pretty much reserved as a last resort.
  • Alternative therapies: Before you attempt to cure yourself with hypnosis or something of that nature, be sure you visit a physician to rule out an underlying illness that may require immediate medical attention. If you’ve done that and would like to try some sort of holistic treatment, it certainly cannot hurt.

Treatment of Secondary Hyperhidrosis

In order to treat this potentially serious condition, you need to visit your doctor and determine what’s causing it. Is it medication? Is it another physical ailment? The answer may be as simple as discontinuing a current medication and switching to something else. If you’ve got an underlying condition, however, your doctor will need to treat you for that first, and once your condition is resolved your secondary hyperhidrosis ought to stop on its own.


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