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by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. It can be an embarrassing and serious problem. It can affect social, professional, and intimate relationships.
The sweating may be in just one area. It is most common in the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and/or armpits. In some cases, the sweating can also affect the entire body. Hyperhidrosis is divided into 2 categories:
Primary hyperhidrosis may be triggered by:
Secondary hyperhidrosis may be caused by conditions such as:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase the chances of secondary hyperhidrosis are the conditions that cause it (listed above).
The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
A starch-iodine test is often used on the armpits. It may be used to determine the areas with the most active sweat glands.
Tests may be done if the doctor is concerned about a specific medical condition.
To help decrease the uncomfortable feeling and odor associated with sweating, try:
A number of treatments can be applied to decrease sweating in a particular area. These include:
Medications are usually used for secondary hyperhidrosis. They are rarely used due to their side effects, but may include:
Botulinum A Neurotoxin TOP
Botulinum A neurotoxin is produced by the bacteria that causes botulism. Injections of this toxin can decrease sweating in certain areas. It is often used on the palms of the hands and armpits. The effect of one cycle of injections may last for 6-8 months for most people.
There are no current guidelines to prevent hyperhidrosis.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
International Hyperhidrosis Society
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Solish N, Bertucci V, Dansereau A, et al. A comprehensive approach to the recognition, diagnosis, and severity-based treatment of focal hyperhidrosis: recommendations of the Canadian Hyperhidrosis Advisory Committee. Dermatol Surg. 2007;33(8):908–923.
Yamashita N, Shimizu H, Kawada M, et al. Local injection of botulinum toxin A for palmar hyperhidrosis: usefulness and efficacy in relation to severity. J Dermatol. 2008;35(6):325-329.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcie L. Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 3/17/2014
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