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What is Hyperhidrosis? Symptoms, types and treatment

What is Hyperhidrosis?

It’s a rare problem. The person sweats excessively and unpredictably. Also at rest or with cool temperatures. This problem can be detrimental to the person’s psychological and physical well-being.

What types are there?

In primary hyperhidrosis we do not find any problem that justifies why it occurs. What sweats the most are the hands, feet or armpits. It affects 2-3% of the population. It begins in childhood or puberty. It last for ever. It affects more women than men. It usually occurs in several members of a family.

If the sweating is due to another medical problem, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis . It can be all over the body or just in one area.

Why does it occur?

It seems to be because these people have quite active sweat glands. In almost all cases of primary hyperhidrosis, the cause is unknown.

They can cause secondary hyperhidrosis: acromegaly , anxiety , tumors, medications, blood sugar disturbances, heart problems, hyperthyroidism , infections.

What symptoms do they present?

The main symptom is excessive humidity. It is important to know where you sweat more (on the face, palms, soles, armpits or in general). Also the weather pattern (whether it occurs at night or started abruptly). And if there are any triggers and associated symptoms.

How can it be treated?

There are different means:

  • Antiperspirants : They plug the sweat ducts. They can cause skin irritation. At high doses they can damage clothes. They are available over the counter (without a prescription). It is the first treatment that is usually recommended. Initially, the patient may need it 3-7 times a week, but when sweating normalizes, they can start using it once every 1-3 weeks.
  • Anticholinergic medications : They help prevent stimulation of the sweat glands. They are effective with some patients. They have side effects, such as: dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, headache, constipation, and problems with urination.
  • Iontophoresis : This involves using electricity to temporarily shut down the sweat gland. It is more useful for sweaty hands and feet. The hands or feet are immersed in water, and then a mild electrical current is passed through the water. The intensity is increased until the patient feels a slight tingling sensation. It is a completely safe treatment and requires several sessions. There are usually no side effects, sometimes blistering and cracking of the skin. Less sweating is noticeable after 6-10 sessions. After that, a session may be needed every 1-4 weeks.
  • Botox (botulinum toxin type A): It is approved to treat severe underarm sweating. Small doses of this purified toxin are injected under the arm. They temporarily block the nerves that stimulate sweating. You may have side effects such as soreness at the injection site, skin swelling, decreased sensitivity of the area, and flu-like symptoms. If used on the palms of the hands it can cause mild but temporary weakness and intense pain. The effect of a single injection can last up to a few months. Sometimes additional injections are needed.
  • Surgery ( sympathectomy ): Used when other treatments fail. The signal that tells the body to sweat excessively is eliminated. It is used to treat extreme cases of the face or hands. On the other hand, it is not so useful when it comes to the armpits.

When should I see the pediatrician?

  • In case of prolonged, excessive and unexplained sweating.
  • If accompanied or followed by chest discomfort, shortness of breath, fast and pounding heartbeat, fever, or weight loss.
  • If it occurs with sleep.

Can they be prevented?

No. In fact, it is defined as something unpredictable and untriggered.

It is better to wear cotton, breathable clothing and avoid synthetic fabrics. Wear cotton socks and leather shoes, avoiding plastic and rubber.

Shower 1-2 times a day with deodorant soap and shave armpit hair after puberty. Deodorants do not prevent sweating, but they do help reduce body odour.

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