Sweat is nothing unusual. In fact, it is when a person doesn’t sweat or over sweat it then becomes abnormal. Perspiration, the other word known as sweat, is the body’s natural way of dealing with internal overheating. The warmer you feel, the more sweat your body produces to help you cool down.
In some cases, people sweat excessively (beyond the amount needed) even when the body is at normal temperature. This is the case of hyperhidrosis. Over 3% (211 million) of the world population suffers from excessive sweating. The term excessive here refers to sweating up to 5 times more than normal.
While the cause of can vary from neurologic, metabolic, and certain medical conditions, the excessive sweating itself is mostly harmless and can affect those who are otherwise healthy. In some, hyperhidrosis can be triggered by heat and emotions such as stress, but people who suffer from the condition will more than likely sweat persistently anyway; regardless of mood or weather.
The two main types are focal and general. Focal hyperhidrosis is more common, and is so called because it only affects specific areas of the body. These are commonly underarms, palms, feet, face, or head. General hyperhidrosis is less common, and affects the body in its entirety.
Axillary Hyperhidrosis, which is excessive underarm sweating, is the most common of all. Palmar Hyperhidrosis, which as you may have guessed is sweaty palms, affects the second largest portion of excessive sweaters. Other focal types include Plantar (soles of the feet), and Craniofacial Hyperhidrosis (head and face).
Whereas focal is usually harmless (more an embarrassment and inconvenience than anything else), general hyperhidrosis can be medically serious, as it indicates an underlying health condition. Menopause, thyroid problems, diabetes, pregnancy, cancers, and a number of different medical conditions can be triggers.
The physiological effects of hyperhidrosis extend beyond wetness. It can cause skin irritations and problems including bacterial or fungal infections and disintegration of the skin. Sufferers are also affected emotionally and mentally. The embarrassment from excessive sweating makes one uncomfortable to be around people, which may lead to further emotional problems including depression, loss of self confidence and social isolation.
The good news is that this condition can be easily managed. Focal can be controlled through use of over-the-counter antiperspirants, medications, surgery, Botox, and iontophoresis. General hyperhidrosis can be treated as well, by addressing the underlying health condition that may be causing it.