Hyperhidrosis

Definition

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.

Alternative Names

Sweating - excessive; Perspiration - excessive; Diaphoresis

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:

References

James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Diseases of the skin appendages. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 33.

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.


Review Date: 6/19/2021
Reviewed By: Ramin Fathi, MD, FAAD, Director, Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, Phoenix, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
© 1997- adam.comAll rights reserved.