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Hyperhidrosis

Sweating - excessive; Perspiration - excessive; Diaphoresis

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition in which a person sweats excessively and unpredictably. People with hyperhidrosis may sweat even when the temperature is cool or when they are at rest.

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Sweating

Causes

Sweating helps the body stay cool. In most cases, it is perfectly natural. People sweat more in warm temperatures, when they exercise, or in response to situations that make them nervous, angry, embarrassed, or afraid.

Excessive sweating occurs without such triggers. People with hyperhidrosis appear to have overactive sweat glands. The uncontrollable sweating can lead to significant discomfort, both physical and emotional.

When excessive sweating affects the hands, feet, and armpits, it is called focal hyperhidrosis. In most cases, no cause can be found. It seems to run in families.

Sweating that is not caused by another disease is called primary hyperhidrosis.

If the sweating occurs as a result of another medical condition, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. The sweating may be all over the body (generalized) or it may be in one area (focal). Conditions that cause secondary hyperhidrosis include:

Symptoms

The primary symptom of hyperhidrosis is wetness.

Exams and Tests

Visible signs of sweating may be noted during a visit with a health care provider. Tests may also be used to diagnose excessive sweating, including:

You may also be asked details about your sweating, such as:

Treatment

A wide range of common treatments for hyperhidrosis includes:

Outlook (Prognosis)

With treatment, hyperhidrosis can be managed. Your provider can discuss treatment options with you.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have sweating:

Related Information

Hypothyroidism
Carcinoid syndrome
Cancer
Pulmonary tuberculosis
Menopause
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy
Iontophoresis

References

Langtry JAA. Hyperhidrosis. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson IH, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 109.

Miller JL. Diseases of the eccrine and apocrine sweat glands. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 39.

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Review Date: 4/16/2019  

Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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