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Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
What is excessive sweating?
Excessive sweating, also called hyperhidrosis, can affect the entire body, but usually occurs in the palms, soles, armpits, and/or groin area. Excessive sweating is normal when a person is anxious or has a fever. However, when the condition is chronic, it may be hyperhidrosis or it can signal thyroid problems, low blood sugar, nervous system disorders, or other medical problems. Typically, hyperhidrosis is a benign problem with no clear cause.
What are the symptoms of excessive sweating?
Areas that produce excessive sweat usually appear pink or white, but, in severe cases, may appear cracked, scaly, and soft (especially on the feet). Other symptoms may include a bad odor caused by bacteria and yeast in the wet skin.
Hyperhidrosis can lead to significant distress socially and in the workplace.
The symptoms of excessive sweating may resemble other medical conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Treatment for excessive sweating
Specific treatment for excessive sweating will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider, based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Severity of the condition
Cause of the condition
Your tolerance of specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Treatment may involve topical, oral, surgical, or nonsurgical treatments, including:
Prescription-strength antiperspirants applied nightly
Methenamine solution applications to the area
Oral anticholinergic medicines. A topical (applied to the skin) version of this medication was recently FDA approved and will soon be available as well.
Thoracoscopic sympathectomy. A surgical interruption of the sympathetic nerve pathways that lead to the sweat glands.
Botulinum toxin A injection. Botulinum toxin helps to inhibit the release of acetylcholine (a substance that is active in the transmissions of nerve impulses).
Tap water iontophoresis (applying a weak electrical current to the area)
Psychological counseling and/or medicine (to reduce anxiety)
The cause of hyperhidrosis can be serious. Please call your healthcare provider for a complete evaluation.
In addition, contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have excessive sweating:
With or followed by chest pain
With fever, weight loss, shortness of breath, or a rapid, pounding heartbeat
That most often happens during sleep
Online Medical Reviewer:
Online Medical Reviewer:
Michael Lehrer MD
Date Last Reviewed:
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