By Connie Colbert
Director of the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Do you feel like you are sweating excessively even when you are not hot? Are your palms or soles often sweaty causing slippery feet, or are you being overly careful when shaking hands (restrictions on COVID of course) Are you feeling confident because you have excessive armpit sweat even with deodorant?
It’s normal to sweat when you’re too hot or nervous. However, if you sweat excessively for no reason, you may develop a condition called hyperhidrosis (Hi-Purr-Hi-DROE-Sis), which means too much (hyper) sweating (hidrosis).
Sweating usually cools the body down and prevents us from overheating, but people with hyperhidrosis sweat when the body doesn’t need to be cooled. Mostly they sweat on the palms of the hands, feet, forearms or on the head. While the rest of the body remains dry, an area or two can become excessively sweaty.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, other signs and symptoms of this disorder include:
- Visible sweating: If you are not exerting yourself, do you often see beads of sweat on your skin or do you have sweaty clothes? Do you sweat while sitting?
- Sweating interferes with daily activities: Does sweating make it difficult to hold a pen, walk, or turn a doorknob? Is sweat dripping heavily on your papers or your computer?
- The skin becomes soft, white and peeling in certain areas: Does your skin stay wet for a long time?
- Skin infections: Do you get frequent skin infections on the heavily sweating parts of the body? Athlete’s foot and jock itch are common skin infections.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis.
The first is primary or essential hyperhidrosis.
In essential hyperhidrosis, the nerves responsible for signaling your sweat glands become overactive even though they were not triggered by physical activity or a rise in temperature. With stress or nervousness, the problem gets worse. This type usually affects your palms and soles, and sometimes your face. There is usually no medical cause for this type, but it can run in families.
The second is hyperhidrosis.
This type comes from another disease. It is less common and usually does not focus on a few areas of the body but causes excessive sweating as a whole.
Some conditions that can cause this type of sweating include:
- Menopausal hot flashes
- Thyroid problems
- Low blood sugar
- Some types of cancer
- Heart attack
- Nervous system disorders
- Opioid withdrawal
It is important to make a diagnosis before treating this condition. A doctor must first find out if you have primary or secondary hyperhidrosis. This is an essential first step because if it is secondary hyperhidrosis, the underlying condition must be treated first.
If a diagnosis of primary hyperhidrosis is made and it interferes with everyday life, treatments can help.
If you are concerned that you may have this disease, make an appointment with a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis and start treatment.