Excessive Sweating - Hyperhidrosis
Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, is an embarrassing condition that can have dramatic negative effects on peoples' lives.
Hyperhidrosis can affect most areas of the body - but it is usually a major problem in one or two main areas. Common areas to be affected by excessive sweating are:
- Head - scalp and face (often associated with facial flushing)
- Hands - called Palmar Hyperhidrosis)
- Under-arms or armpits - called axillary hyperhidrosis
- Feet - called Plantar Hyperhidrosis
- and occasionally groins, backs, chests
Hyperhidrosis is the excessive production of the watery sweat. This sweat causes the damp patches on clothes, and in severe cases, beads of sweat form and can drip down the body from the affected area.This sweat is produced by the Eccrine glands. It's main purpose is to cool the body.
This condition is not to be confused with smelly sweat - properly called Bromhidrosis - which is a more greasy sweat of low volume that has a distinctive - and often nasty - smell. Bromhidrosis is formed by the Apocrine glands. These produce a greasy substance called sebum that is discharged into hair follicles.
Hyperhidrosis is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, although many other factors also influence it - such as heat or local heat, psychological effects (embarrassment or fear), some hormones, some drugs, some sorts of food.
Problems caused by excessive sweating and hyperhidrosis
The effects that hyperhidrosis has on the individual depend upon what area of the body has excessive sweating.
The Face - Facial Flushing and facial sweating
Many of us go red and get a little facially sweaty when embarrassed or when exerting ourselves. Some young women also get a pronounced flushing when aroused.
However, in some people the facial flushing and blushing is excessive, leading to difficulties in both work and social situations. Severe facial blushing can make a patient feel so uncomfortable around other people that they start to hide away from social or even work situations.
Severe facial sweating can cause severe embarrassment and can cause problems at work.
The Armpit – Axillary Hyperhidrosis
Excessive sweating from the armpits (axillae) can be more than just annoying – it can alter the way some people live their lives.
People suffering from axillary hyperhidrosis find that they have to be very careful about what clothes that they buy or wear and find that they are very self conscious in the social setting, particularly if hot or if nervous.
At work people suffering from axillary hyperhidrosis are always conscious of what they are wearing and if they can remove their outer garments - or whether this might reveal embarrassing sweat marks on their clothes. Relief of the condition allows the sufferer a new freedom.
The Hand – Palmar Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis of the hand can be a particularly upsetting problem. Having permanently soaking hands can cause people to have difficulty writing on paper without marking it, to hold pens or other implements and to shake hands without undue embarrassment.
This can lead to problems at work, home or in education. As such treatment of the condition can lead to a vastly improved quality of life.
The Groin - Groin Hyperhidrosis
The groin is an area that can sweat excessively and become very uncomfortable. In many people this can be easily hidden and does not cause a problem. However, in a few there can be severe sweating that needs treatment.
The Feet - Plantar Hyperhidrosis
Many people complain of sweaty feet. As the feet spend much of their time in socks and shoes, the problem is less of the moisture produced, but more the smell that occurs from the action of the moisture on the materials of the footwear and also from the bacterial breakdown and overgrowth stimulated by the damp and warm conditions.