Sweaty hands, underarm wetness and stains on clothing and beads of sweat on the forehead are all signs of excessive sweating. Sweating is necessary to control the body’s temperature, but in some cases the system overproduces, rises to a high level and occurs at inappropriate times.
This is what’s formally known as hyperhidrosis. The areas of the body most affected by hyperhidrosis are the face, hands, armpits, trunk, feet and scalp. The condition usually begins during childhood years or early adolescence and becomes worse as time goes on – possibly for the rest of your life.
Excessive sweating is an embarrassing condition, especially during social and professional activities and intimate relationships may also be greatly affected. There are two types of hyperhidrosis – primary (idiopathic) and secondary.
Primary hyperhidrosis occurs more often than the secondary type and is usually centered in the hands, scalp, armpits, face and feet. Secondary hyperhidrosis is usually caused by a physical condition such as menopause, obesity, hyperthyroidism, systemic malignant diseases, treatment (endocrine) for a malignant disease and some psychiatric disorders.
Remember that sweating is a normal response to heat and meant to cool down your body. Running a fever is sometimes a trigger for sweat to break out as your body temperature rises and needs something to cool it down.
You might suffer from hyperhidrosis because of genetics that caused you to have more than normal sweat glands in the feet, hands and armpits or because of overactive sweat gland nerves. Occasionally, there may be another condition that can be causing excess sweating.
Causes and Symptoms of Excessive Sweating
Other than simple genetics, there may be medical or physical conditions that cause hyperhidrosis. Some can be tested and treated easily and the problem eradicated. Excessive sweating is usually characterized by a sudden onset without reason – such as a hot atmosphere or exercise.
You’ll know if you have hyperhidrosis if the palms of your hands and soles of your feet are constantly damp, you suffer from sweating that drenches your clothing, have macerations (soaking) of the skin, discoloration of the skin where you sweat most, or have cracked and scaly skin and foot odor.
Some medications may contribute to hyperhidrosis. Psychiatric prescriptions and meds used for high blood pressure problems may contribute to excessive sweating problems. Medications used to treat dry mouth, some supplements and a few antibiotics may also cause the condition.
Hyperthyroidism is another condition which may cause excess sweating. This condition causes the body’s chemical system to rev up past normal stages, producing too many thyroid hormones within the body. The result could be excessive sweating.
Testing is available for hyperthyroidism and the optional treatments include certain medications, surgery and iodine radiation. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism vary and excessive sweating may not occur until the condition is extremely manifested.
Many women complain about the sudden onset of excessive sweating problems during menopause. The problem is sometimes called hot flashes and they affect over 75% of women during and just before other menopausal symptoms.
Scientifically, these hot flashes are likely caused by swings or decreases in a woman’s drop in estrogen levels, when the menstrual period stops. Some women have such severe excess sweating that they drench their clothing.
Certain types of cancer such as Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma may cause sweating. Other cancers sometimes involved in hyperhidrosis include leukemia, bone and liver cancers, carcinoid tumors and mesothelioma.
Doctors believe that the body’s reaction to cancer by sweating is caused by the body’s attempt to fight off the invading cancer. The sweating becomes more pronounced as the cancer becomes more advanced.
Diabetes, types 1 and 2, are also known causes for hyperhidrosis. Other glucose control disorders such as hypoglycemia (extremely low glucose levels) and gestational diabetes may also contribute to the problem.
Sometimes, psychiatric conditions such as stress and anxiety can cause hyperhidrosis. These disorders may cause the body’s temperature to rise, leading to excess sweating. The drugs used to treat psychiatric problems may also lead to overactive sweat glands – plus withdrawal symptoms of stopping the use of alcohol and opiates or other, illegal substances may cause hyperhidrosis.
If you’re suffering from one or more of the above conditions, you may experience certain symptoms. For example, your face and scalp may be the main areas of the hyperhidrosis condition.
You may experience embarrassing blushing and your self-esteem may suffer as a result. Sweating profusely in the thigh, torso or leg areas occurs less frequently than in other areas of the body and may be part of the excess sweating going on in other body parts.
Sweating of the hands is one of the most embarrassing conditions because they’re used more than other body areas. Social contact (and even the profession you choose) may be affected by hyperhidrosis primarily occurring in the hands.
Besides the sweat problem, your hands may also feel cold and take on a blue discoloration, further limiting social contact. Feet sweating is also a condition which may be associated with sweating in other parts of the body.
Under the armpit may also cause distress in the form of wet clothing and stains. A strong odor may also develop, causing embarrassment and social withdrawal. It’s a humiliating and stressful situation for anyone going through it.
Treatment Options for Hyperhidrosis
Although sweating is a natural process by which the body eliminates toxins and acts to cool the body, it becomes a disorder when the excessive sweating causes embarrassment or might be a sign of a more serious medical problem.
Before treatment, the underlying reason for hyperhidrosis must be diagnosed. Sometimes, it’s a simple task. The excessive sweating may be clearly caused by such medications and treatments as hormonal therapy for hot flashes.
Those being treated for loss of estrogen may try super-type of antiperspirants such as Drysol. Iontophoresis (ionization) may also be a remedy. Ionization is a process which involves electrical current (from a machine) letting ions flow in the areas where excess sweating is prevalent.
Botulinum toxin (BOTOX) is also found to be effective for some people who suffer from hyperhidrosis. It works by blocking the signals from the brain which are received by the sweat glands. The injections can be given in the hands, face, feet or armpits.
Surgery may also be an option for those suffering from severe hyperhidrosis. Also known as endoscopic thoracic sympthectomy (ETS), the surgery acts to cut off the nerve impulses which cause the sweat glands to produce sweat.
The glands helped by this surgical process are found in the palms, armpits and face and address the junctions where the nerves meet. The surgery is simple, requiring one incision of about a twelfth of an inch per side.
One procedure that requires minimal surgery is to remove or eradicate the sweat glands. A small incision is made and the sweat glands or cut or scraped away – or you can elect to use a laser device just under the skin to destroy the glands causing the problem.
Another way to remove sweat glands without surgery is by a healthcare provider using a probe which is held just above the skin. The probe discharges a small amount of electromagnetic radiation to completely destroy the sweat glands.
Your doctor may discuss the use of anticholinergics to ease a hyperhidrosis problem. This type of medication is antimuscarinic or anticholinergic and acts to block the nervous system’s natural chemical (acetylcholine) which activates the sweat glands.
Hyperhidrosis can be challenging to manage and treat, but it can be done if you take the time and effort to seek out what works for you. There is no one size fits all solution, since everyone has different causes and different responses by their body to treatment.
Alternative Treatment and Lifestyle Changes for Hyperhidrosis
Some simple lifestyle changes may help the symptoms of hyperhidrosis when there’s no obvious reason for the condition. It likely won’t cure the condition, but you may learn to manage it so you’re not always embarrassed. There are some easy ways to ease the symptoms.
Food and drink that trigger excessive sweating include spicy foods and alcohol. Also, avoid tight clothing and wear cotton clothes rather than man-made material such as polyester. Use antiperspirant rather than just deodorant in the armpits.
Wear socks that are especially designed to absorb moisture and are made of natural, rather than man-made, fibers and change them often during the day. Your shoes should be made of leather and pairs should be alternated each day.
You can use armpit shields to soak in excess sweat and protect your clothing from stains. If the antiperspirant you’re using doesn’t work, ask your doctor to prescribe a stronger one for you.
Try taking two teaspoons of natural vinegar mixed with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar three times a day – either on an empty stomach or about thirty minutes after a meal.
Sage tea has been tested and found to help excessive sweating in the armpits. Simply brew some sage in warm water, let cool and then drink it down. It’s loaded with vitamin B and magnesium which calm overactive sweat glands. Green tea may also be an effective herbal remedy.
Use cut slices of potato to rub in your armpits and other areas of excessive sweating. Drink a glass of fresh tomato juice each day to calm the sweat glands and also consider using witch hazel as an antiperspirant. It dries the areas that sweat the most.
Try coconut or tea tree oil on the sweaty areas for a natural fix. Add camphor to the coconut oil and use the tea tree oil at full strength to take full advantage of its natural astringent powers. For sweaty palms, try the tannic acid found in plain black tea by steeping some bags in boiling water, and when the water cools, dip your palms in it.
Add grapes to your diet every day for the antioxidants needed to balance your body temperature. Drink wheatgrass juice to neutralize acids in the body and get a large dose of vitamins, folic acid and protein to help calm overactive sweat glands.
Cornstarch, baking soda and salt are natural drying remedies. Mix the cornstarch and baking soda and apply under the arms after a thorough cleansing. Wash it off about thirty minutes after the application. Or, mix a tablespoon of salt with some lime juice and massage into your hands if you suffer from sweaty palms.
Other homeopathic remedies you should check out for hyperhidrosis issues are silicea for clammy feet, calcarea (if obesity might be the cause of hyperhidrosis), botulinum for armpit sweating and acidum hydrofluoricum if your sweat comes with an unpleasant odor.
Simple lifestyle changes you can make on a daily basis may solve your hyperhidrosis issues. For example, drink copious amounts of water each day and cut down on your caffeine intake.
Avoid stress and anxiety as they’re prone to trigger sweat glands. Also avoid hot drinks, spicy and sugary foods – and of course, never use alcohol drugs or cigarettes if you have a hyperhidrosis problem.
Keep your armpits and groin areas shaved and don’t use high-powered deodorants and soap. Avoid hot baths and try to always keep your body temperature cool. Make sure you wear natural fiber clothing (such as cotton) rather than synthetic fabrics like nylon.
Anything you’re eating, doing or wearing that triggers excessive sweating issues should be avoided. If you begin to feel self-conscious about a hyperhidrosis problem, try natural remedies first and then seek help from your healthcare provider.
First, the problem must be correctly diagnosed – and then, there’s usually a remedy for the particular problem and you can find the particular method that will work for you. Help is readily available.
Don’t despair if you can’t find an immediate remedy for your hyperhidrosis issue. There’s plenty of information and help online to assist you in dealing with and seeking the proper solution for the problem.
Hyperhidrosis isn’t a problem you have to live with. Many have been helped by following one or more of the guidelines or products (including surgery) that are listed in this report.