It’s not just sweaty palms or a bit of damp on the back of your shirt after some exercise. Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that occurs all over your body. It’s something that can make you feel pretty self conscience – think not wanting to shake someone’s hand because your worried about how much you’re sweating. It’s a condition that, in the U.S. alone, 7.8 million people experience. We’re going to talk about what exactly is hyperhidrosis, what are the symptoms, and how some people treat it.
What is Hyperhidrosis?
So, what exactly is Hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that affects each person differently and there’s two types of hyperhidrosis; Primary hyperhidrosis and secondary Hyperhidrosis. While these are both fancy medical names, lots of people just describe the condition as over-sweating.
Doctors and researchers don’t know what exactly causes Primary Hyperhidrosis. It usually affects the hands, feet, underarms or the face/head and in rare cases, it can also affect the chest or groin areas. It commonly begins in childhood or adolescence and can sometimes run in families.
Secondary Hyperhidrosis causes sweating all over your body. It’s usually caused by a disease that affects your endocrine (hormonal) system such as diabetes or having an over-active thyroid gland. It can also be caused by spinal cord injury, anxiety, heart disease, certain cancers, the menopause and obesity.
What are the symptoms?
- Frequent/excessive sweating
- Clammy/wet hands or feet
- Noticeable sweat marks on clothing
- Developing skin problems from irritation or fungal/bacterial infection
How do I know if I have hyperhidrosis?
There aren’t guidelines for what “normal” sweating is, but if you feel like how much you sweat impacts your everyday life, you might want to speak with your doctor.
For example, you may have hyperhidrosis if:
- you avoid physical contact, such as shaking hands, because you feel self-conscious about your sweating
- you don’t take part in activities, such as dancing or exercise, because you worry it will make your sweating worse
- sweating impacts your job – for example, you have difficulty holding tools or using a computer keyboard
- you’re spending a lot of time coping with sweating – for example, frequently showering and changing your clothes
- you become socially withdrawn and self-conscious
What are some of the complications of hyperhidrosis?
- Fungal infections
- Skin Conditions such as warts and boils
- Body Odour
- Emotional impact – Over-sweating can make some people feel self concious and unhappy, but in some case, depressed. It’s really important to pay attention to your mental health so definitely make sure to speak to your doctor about what’s on your mind!
Finding the best fit for you is something that can take time and some trial and error because everyone is different! For medical treatments, it’s important to speak to your doctor about the options available.
For some people, changing your lifestyle can manage symptoms and help improve confidence. Some of the things which can help are:
- Avoid triggers that you know make your sweating worse, such as spicy foods and alcohol.
- Use antiperspirant frequently, rather than deodorant
- Wear loose, light clothing from natural-fibre materials and avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothing and man-made fibres, such as nylon
- Wear socks that absorb moisture, such as thick socks made of natural fibre
- The airflow technology on the wheelAIR may help provide comfort for individuals experiencing excessive sweating in a wheelchair. Read more about other user’s experience here (call to action on case studies)