Excessive sweating is inconvenient and can be embarrassing – especially when the timing is bad and you’re giving a presentation or meeting a friend.
What many people don’t know is that hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes a person to sweat more than is necessary. While a certain amount of sweating is useful to cool the body, people who have hyperhidrosis sweat when they are not exerting themselves and when there is no risk of the body overheating.
“Every person’s hyperhidrosis is different. Some people sweat through their shoes, shirts and jeans while others excessively perspire in just one area of the body like the underarms, hands or face ,” said Pariser Dermatologist David Pariser, MD, who founded the International Hyperhidrosis Society.
So, how can you tell whether you sweat a normal amount or have hyperhidrosis? What are the specific symptoms of hyperhidrosis? And, when is it important to see a dermatologist? Let’s dive in!
What is Hyperhidrosis?
There are two types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is the more common type and often first occurs when someone is a child or adolescent.
Symptoms include excessive sweating in multiple areas of the body at least once per week. Oftentimes, affected areas include the forehead, underarms, groin, hands and feet,” says Dr. Pariser.
Secondary hyperhidrosis occurs when there is an underlying cause of the sweat. That cause could be an unrelated medical condition or the side effect of a particular medicine, food or supplement.
Symptoms of hyperhidrosis include:
- Visible sweating when you are not exerting yourself or you’re at rest.
- Sweating that interferes with everyday activities such as holding a pen or sliding in your shoes as you walk.
- Skin that remains wet for long periods of time and peels often.
- Frequent skin infections such as athlete’s foot or jock itch.
To diagnose hyperhidrosis, a dermatologist will perform a physical examination of the patient. This allows the doctor to see where, specifically, the person is sweating and if additional medical testing is necessary before offering a diagnosis. A common medical test is the ‘sweat test,’ which involves coating the skin with a powder that turns purple when the skin gets wet.
Treatment Options for Hyperhidrosis
There are several treatment options for hyperhidrosis, some are over the counter while others must be administered by a doctor.
The Mayo Clinic shares a list of over the counter treatments and tips for managing the condition, as well as treatment options that can be prescribed:
Strategies to try at home:
- Using an antiperspirant. These can be applied to underarms, hands, feet, or hairline.
- Wearing socks made of cotton and wool that promote dryness.
- Choosing clothing made of cotton, wool and silk fabrics that allow your skin to breathe more.
Treatments your dermatologist may prescribe:
- QBREXZA – a medicated wipe used for the underarms only,
- Botox injections – By injecting a weak form of this medicine into your underarms or other areas, excessive sweating can be prevented. Explore information on Botox today.
- miraDry – miraDry is the only non-surgical, FDA-cleared treatment that will free you from the bothersome problems of underarm sweat and odor. Learn more about miraDry now.
- Systemic therapy – Speak to our dermatologists at Pariser Dermatology about a prescription medicine, taken in pill form, that may help solve your excessive sweating.
When is it Time to See a Dermatologist for Hyperhidrosis?
Excessive sweating can not only interfere with everyday activities, it can also cause embarrassment and anxiety. Don’t let sweat stop you from living your life, call us at 757-622-6315 to make an appointment or click here to request an appointment online. One of our experienced team of dermatologists will help you find a treatment that effectively controls your hyperhidrosis. We can even start with a live telemedicine appointment, if you prefer.