Glossary of Terms

Anhidrosis

The lack of or absence of sweating, also called hypohidrosis.

Antiperspirants

A product containing 10-20% aluminium chloride applied to areas of excessive sweating to plug the sweat ducts. Stronger doses may be prescribed. Side effects include skin irritation, and large amounts can cause damage to clothing. Commonly mistaken as deodorants, and vice versa. Deodorants only help reduce body odour and not sweating.

Apocrine gland

One of the two types of sweat glands distinguished by odour and oily secretion. Apocrine glands are located in the face, armpits and groin. Sympathectomy is less effective for treating excessive sweating these areas.

Asymmetrical

Affecting one side of the region more or less than the other.

Axillary

Relating to the armpit, underarm, or oxter.

Axillary hyperhidrosis

Excessive underarm sweating, the most common form of focal hyperhidrosis.

Botox

Otherwise known as botulinum toxin. As a treatment for focal hyperhidrosis, it is injected in very small amounts into the area where excessive sweating occurs, resulting in temporary blockage of sweat-stimulating nerves.

Most effective for treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis and palmar hyperhidrosis. Side effects include soreness around injected area, flu-like symptoms, and when used on palm, temporary mild weakness and intense pain.

Bromhidrosis

Also known as bromidrosis or body odour that comes from axillary (apocrine) sweat as a result of bacterial breakdown. A condition more commonly triggered in post-puberty.

Compensatory sweating

A side-effect that results from effective treatment of hyperhidrosis. The body makes up for the dry areas by sweating elsewhere.

Craniofacial hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating in the forehead, face, scalp and back of the neck. It is the rarest form of hyperhidrosis, despite the large amount of eccrine glands in the head.

Dermatophytosis

Fungal skin infections found around the palms, soles of the feet, groin and between fingers or toes, where areas tend to appear red, crack, and filled with fluid.

Eccrine glands

One of the two sweat glands distinguished by watery secretion and the absence of odour. These glands cover most the body but are most numerous on the palms and soles of the feet. They respond well to sympathectomy as they are supplied by sympathetic nerve fibres.

Endoscopic

Refers to ‘keyhole’ surgery where a small incision and particular tools and techniques are used. The entire surgical procedure is minimally invasive and requires minimal hospital stay.

Endoscopic lumbar sympathectomy (ELS)

A minimally invasive surgical procedure to treat excessive sweating in the feet (plantar hyperhidrosis). Similar to ETS, where parts of the sympathetic nerve chain are cut and removed.

Endoscopic sympathetic blockade (ESB)

A surgical procedure where parts of the sympathetic nerve trunk is clamped temporarily. High likely for negative side effects and compensatory sweating to occur, but the procedure is reversible.

Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS)

A minimally-invasive surgery recommended when others are deemed ineffective. Parts of the sympathetic nerve trunk are destroyed to cure excessive sweating.

More likely used for excessive sweaty palms and face, and is less effective for excessive sweating of the armpits. Severe side effects possible, along with compensatory sweating. The procedure is irreversible.

Focal hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating that affects only specific areas of the body, such as underarms, palms, soles of the feet, face, head, chest, and the groin area.

General hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating that affects the entire body. Less common than focal hyperhidrosis and can be medically serious, as it indicates underlying health conditions, such as thyroid problems, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, tuberculosis or other infections, menopause, diabetes, cancer and more.

Gustatory hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating that affects the face, scalp and neck areas, triggered by consuming certain foods.

Hyperhidrosis

A common disorder that affects over 3% of the world population, where the body sweats excessively (5 times more than normal) or beyond the amount needed, even when at rest and at normal temperature.

Idiopathic

A medical condition that is from an uncertain or unknown cause.

Intertrigo

An inflammation or rash developed in skin folds due to friction of warm and sweaty skin. Mostly affects excessive sweating in the armpits, under the breasts, between fingers and toes, and the groin area.

Iontophoresis

A non-surgical procedure used to treat hyperhidrosis, most effectively palmar hyperhidrosis and plantar hyperhidrosis. The procedure requires the area be placed in water, where a gentle electrical current is passed through and gradually increased to a point where some tingling is felt. It causes the sweat glands to ‘turn off’. A course of 10-20 minute therapy sessions is needed and possible side effects include blistering and cracking of the treated area.

Laser sweat ablation (LSA)

A minimally invasive surgical procedure that removes sweat glands by using laser through keyhole surgery to treat axillary hyperhidrosis. Side effects include the risk of compensatory sweating. The procedure is non-reversible.

Liposuction Curettage

A surgical procedure to treat axillary hyperhidrosis by removing sweat glands by suction. Side effects include compensatory sweating and the procedure is non-reversible.

Palmar hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating that affects palm of the hands.

Palmoplantar hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating that affects both the palms and soles of the feet.

Paper test

A special paper that absorbs sweat and then weighed to measure how excessive the sweating condition is.

Plantar hyperhidrosis

Excessive sweating that affects the soles of the feet.

Pitted Keratolysis

A bacterial infection characterised by small pits in the skin and smelly feet, which appear and smell more dramatic when feet are wet. Focal hyperhidrosis increases the chances of pitted keratolysis by 15 times.

Skin maceration

Softening and whitening of skin that is consistently wet, making it susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.

Starch-iodine test

Application of iodine solution to sweaty area after which when dried is dusted with starch. A reaction that results in an area turning dark blue indicates the areas of excessive sweating.

Sympathectomy

A surgical procedure that involves cutting or destroying nerve impulses to sweat glands. Most effectively used for curing palmar hyperhidrosis and axillary hyperhidrosis, where both sides need to be done, usually in the same sitting. Side effects include compensatory sweating where the body starts to sweat elsewhere to make up for the dry areas.

Sympathetic nerve system

A branch of nervous system that serves involuntary functions. Together with the parasympathetic system, they are the autonomous nervous system.

‘The Silent Handicap’

The term often used to refer to hyperhidrosis, due the enormous physiological and psychosocial limitations it places on the affected individual’s life (be it personal, professional or social).

Unilateral

Affecting one side of the body, either left or right.