Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is abnormal sweating condition as a result of excess of what is needed to regulate the body temperatures. Hyperhidrosis can affect about 1 % of adults.

The abnormal perspiration in the hands is called palmar hyperhidrosis while the sweating in the armpits is called axillary hyperhidrosis and in the feet called plantar hyperhidrosis.

Perspiration, which is a part of normal body functioning, is regulated by the automatic nervous system. The number of sweat glands existing in the entire body is much higher in certain portions of the skin such as hands, feet, armpits and the genital areas. Perspiration is considered to be the normal physiological response of the body with the rise in the internal or body temperature.

This response is typically seen especially when one undergoes physical exercise or comes under surroundings with higher temperatures. Even stressful situations may stir the autonomic nervous system which in turn may lead to increased production of sweat by the glands that remain highly focused in the hands, feet, or other regions. In may people, the autonomic response in the sweat glands is not extreme. However, those with hyperhidrosis can experience overactive autonomic stimulation of sweat glands as a reaction to the stress.

Signs and symptoms

Hyperhidrosis can either remain confined to a specific portion or affect a large part of body. Hands, feet, axillae, and the groin area are sensitive areas of hyperhidrosis because of the presence of a large number of sweat glands.

Primary hyperhidrosis starts during adolescence or before it while secondary hyperhidrosis can occur at any age. For some people, it comes unexpectedly. The latter form may be associated with thyroid or pituitary gland disorder or other conditions like diabetes mellitus, tumors, gout and menopause.

Certain drugs or mercury poisoning can also be involved in the secondary secondary forms that may adversely affect the health necessitating serious medical attention.

Causes of hyperhidrosis

Though the exact cause behind primary hyperhidrosis could not be established so far, researchers believe that hyperhidrosis could be an outcome of hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. But this hyperactivity may be the result of abnormal brain function.

The quality of life in some hyperhidrosis patients depends upon the severity of the condition. Worsening condition may reduce the quality of life. Patients feel perplexed and loss of control because of perspiration occurring even without change of temperature or emotional state.

However, anxiety may aggravate the condition of many patients. Nervousness can be a common complaint of patients suffering from hyperhidrosis as a result of excessive perspiration. Certain foods and drinks, specific smells, nicotine and caffeine are some other factors triggering abnormal response of sweat glands

Hyperhidrosis Treatment

There are several treatment options to manage abnormal and profusely sweating condition.

Antiperspirants -- Repeated application of topical antiperspirants to hands, armpits, feet or other affected areas can be useful in controlling excessive sweating. This type of treatment is non-invasive. Antiperspirants are generally tried in the beginning because of their easy availability. However, some people consider this treatment only partially effective and unfeasible. Antiperspirants with aluminum chloride can bring effective result particularly when other antiperspirants failed to provide desired relief.

Aluminum chloride hexahydrate

Aluminum chloride hexahydrate (Drysol) is recommended when regular antiperspirants fail to provide effective relief from hyperhidrosis. Drysol can be applied before going to bed for at least for 10 consecutive nights in the beginning and then once a week.

This treatment can be useful for those having problem in their underarm. However, it has been found to be unsatisfactory for the problem of sweating with palm and sole. Irritation, which is the possible side effect of Drysol can sometimes go away either with reduction in the frequency of its use or application of anti-inflammatory medications like lotions having hydrocortisone.

Oral Medications

Oral anticholinergic drugs like glycopyrrolate (Robinul) can be other option for treatment. But they are not generally used because of their tendency of drying-up the bodily secretions. Such drugs may cause rapid heartbeat, dryness in mouth, dizziness and other side effects like somnolence and blurred vision.

Botox

Injecting Botulinum toxin (Botox) into the affected area of skin can be another choice to treat hyperhidrosis. However, these injections need regular replacement after few months of use. Moreover they cost very high and often result in muscular weakness especially when used to treat palmar hyperhidrosis.

Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis emerged as a technique for treatment of excessive sweating over 50 years ago. Its actual mechanism is still not known. Water is used in Iontophoresis technique for conducting electric current to the skin to enable it to counter the production of sweat. Iontophoresis technique needs frequent repetition in the treatment. But, the treatment with Iontophoresis is not as painful as it seems to be. The device for this treatment can be purchased on prescription of the doctor.

Surgery

Thoracic sympathectomy is a surgery performed on the extreme cases of hyperhidrosis to interrupt the sympathetic nerves, which are responsible for perspiration. Sympathectomy disrupts nerve supply to the sweat glands in the skin. Sympathectomy may bring effective result but it is risky.