Excessive Sweating/Hyperhidrosis

What is hyperhidrosis?

Sweat is the body's temperature regulator. Sweating is necessary to keep the body cool; however, it should not interfere with a person's ability to interact and function.

Excessive sweating is a medical condition known as hyperhidrosis, which involves overactive sweat glands. In hyperhidrosis, sweating is unpredictable and significantly exceeds the body's normal requirements for cooling.  Severe sweating may happen even when the temperature is cool or when the person is at rest.

Hyperhidrosis can cause dehydration and skin problems, including infections secondary to skin maceration and can be accompanied by strong odors.  Some people may sweat so profusely that they need to change clothing several times a day.

Excessive sweating is embarrassing, it stains clothes, ruins romance, and complicates business and social interactions. Severe cases can have serious practical consequences as well, making it hard for people who suffer from it to hold a pen, grip a car steering wheel, or shake hands.

What causes hyperhidrosis?

Although neurologic, metabolic, and other systemic diseases can sometimes cause hyperhidrosis, most cases occur in people who are otherwise healthy.  Heat and emotions may trigger hyperhidrosis in some, but many who suffer from hyperhidrosis sweat nearly all their waking hours, regardless of their mood or the weather.

Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

When excessive sweating affects the hands, feet, underarms, head and face, it's called primary focal hyperhidrosis. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is a medical condition not caused by medication or another medical problem. It occurs on specific areas of the body (focal), usually appearing on both sides equally.

Primary focal hyperhidrosis frequently begins in childhood or adolescence, often starting with excessive sweating on the hands and feet that occurs at least once a week while the person is awake. It may be exacerbated by stress, emotion or exercise, but often occurs spontaneously.  
It affects 2-3% of the population, yet less than 40% of patients with this condition seek medical advice. In the majority of primary hyperhidrosis cases, no cause can be found. It seems to run in families.

Secondary hyperhidrosis

If the sweating occurs as a result of another medical condition or a medication, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. The sweating usually involves large body areas, but it may be localized to one area.
Secondary hyperhidrosis may be caused by a medical condition, such as menopause, an overactive thyroid, diabetes, certain infections or tumors, Parkinson’s disease or stroke.

Certain medications, drugs of abuse, exercise, anxiety disorders and heat also cause secondary hyperhidrosis. Unlike primary hyperhidrosis, sweating involves large areas of the body and may occur during sleep. This condition must be investigated for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treatments for hyperhidrosis at Summit Medical Group

There are many options that Dr. Altman uses in the treatment of hyperhidrosis.  These include topical treatments and injections of BOTOX into the area of excessive sweat production.  An office visit can be scheduled to discuss these options.

  • Prescription strength antiperspirants -- those containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate
  • Oral medications -- ones called anticholinergics, which reduce sweating
  • BOTOX (botulinum toxin A)
    • BOTOX has become the safest and most effective standard of care for hyperhidrosis on the hands and axilla. They are performed with solely topical anesthesia, are generally side effect free, and lasts 4-6 months with total relief of the condition.

What you can do for excessive sweating

  • Choose clothing that will keep you cool. Natural fibers are cool but they remain damp after absorbing sweat; some synthetic fibers are warm but they wick sweat away from the body and keep you dry.
  • Keep your work environment cool and well-ventilated.
  • Avoid the food and drinks that trigger sweating; these will be different for everyone and you will probably know what causes problems for you.
  • Stress, tension and anxiety are common problems for everyone, though people with hyperhidrosis have the extra difficulties of coping with sweating. Think about how you can reduce stress during the day: plan your activities carefully and make time to relax.
  • Odor can be prevented by attention to personal hygiene (such as frequent showers); although this will not be convenient for people who constantly sweat, it is an effective and simple measure to take.

Summit Medical Group is proud to provide medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology services to women and men in the Tri-State Area, New York and New Jersey, including the following counties and cities: Essex County, Morris County, Bergen County, Union County, Passaic County, Somerset County and Sussex County, NJ - Livingston, Millburn, Short Hills, West Orange, Berkley Heights, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Cedar Knolls, Chatham, East Hanover, Englewood Cliffs, Essex Fells, Fair Lawn, Florham Park, Fort Lee, Glen Ridge, Jersey City, Kinnelon, Madison, Maplewood, Mendham, Montclair, Montvale, Morristown, New Providence, North Caldwell, Parsippany, Randolph, Roseland, South Orange, Springfield, Summit, Union, Verona, West Caldwell, Whippany and Westfield, NJ.

Excessive Sweating/Hyperhidrosis
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Disclaimer: The information on this Web site is solely for to educate patients. It is not intended to be medical advice and, therefore, should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional. Communications to or from the Summit Medical Group Web site and any person will not be used to establish a relationship between a patient and doctor.