Hyperhidrosis is a common condition in which a person sweats excessively.
Excessive sweating doesn’t pose a threat to your health, but it can be embarrassing and distressing. It can also have a negative impact on your quality of life and interfere with your busy social demands.
Hyperhidrosis is common. It’s been estimated to affect between one and three in every 100 people, which means there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of people living with it in the UK. It can develop at any age.
What is excessive sweating?
There are no guidelines to determine what ‘normal’ sweating is, but if you feel you sweat too much and your sweating has started to interfere with your daily life, you may have hyperhidrosis.
For example, you may have hyperhidrosis if:
- you don’t take part in activities, such as dancing or exercise, for fear they will make your sweating worse
- excessive sweating is interfering with your job – for example, fear when giving presentation or interacting with people at work
- you’re spending a significant amount of time coping with sweating – for example, frequently showering and changing your clothes
you become socially withdrawn or self-conscious.
What causes hyperhidrosis?
In many cases, hyperhidrosis has no obvious cause and is thought to be the result of a problem with the part of the nervous system that controls sweating. This is known as primary hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis that does have an identifiable cause is known as secondary hyperhidrosis. This can have many different triggers, including:
- low blood sugar
- an overactive thyroid gland
Sufferers of this condition wish that they could just turn the tap off. It might not be as easy as that, but there are treatments available, one of which is a course of Botulinum toxin injections into the affected area. The fact that you’ve been ‘botoxed’ probably won’t make the pages of Heat magazine, but it should block the nerves that supply the sweat glands, subsequently preventing them from producing sweat.
Lifestyle changes may also help, including:
- wearing loose and light clothing
- avoiding triggers that could make your sweating worse
- wearing black or white clothes to help minimise the signs of sweating.
Hyperhidrosis is usually a long-term condition, but some people experience an improvement with time, and the treatments available can often keep the problem under control.