Everyone has experienced embarrassing, unsightly, or uncomfortable perspiration at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, there are some people who perpetually face this issue. For them, ordinary situations in day to day life can become unbearable. This post seeks to provide a glimpse into what the disorder is, who it impacts, and what treatments are available to help.
The American Academy of Dermatology refers to this disorder as “excessive over sweating:”
The word “hyperhidrosis” means too much (hyper) sweating (hidrosis). Excessive sweating happens when a person sweats more than is necessary. Yes, it’s necessary to sweat. Sweating cools the body, which prevents us from overheating. People who have hyperhidrosis, however, sweat when the body does not need cooling. Many people who have hyperhidrosis sweat from one or two areas of the body. Most often, they sweat from their palms, feet, underarms, or head. While the rest of the body remains dry, one or two areas may drip with sweat.
When this happens day to day life can become difficult. Palms that excessively sweat create difficulty driving, opening doors, or doing any sort of work requiring hands. Underarm sweat can soak clothes, leaving embarrassing wet marks and odor. Furthermore, infections and skin funguses can develop and fester. There are two different types of hyperhidrosis, primary focal and secondary generalized. The first refers to hyperhidrosis that is not caused by some other medical condition or as a side effect of medication. The second is a side effect, and as such can more easily be managed.
All types of people get this disorder and people with hyperhidrosis need help.
Profile of the Hyperhidrosis Sufferer
According to the the International Hyperhidrosis Society, a full 5% of the population suffers from this disorder. That is a sum total of at least 365 million people.
Considered a rare disease by the National Organization of Rare Disorders, NORD, primary hyperhidrosis “is a rare disorder that affects males and females in equal numbers. The symptoms of this disorder usually begin during childhood or puberty. Many people with Primary Hyperhidrosis experience relief from the symptoms during adulthood without treatment or obvious reason for the remission.” While there is research that indicates that this may be a genetic disease, the exact set of genes that are related have not been identified. Generally, those who suffer have sweating spells, as frequently as several times a week, but outside of those times present as normal.
NORD reports that secondary hyperhidrosis is a much more common disorder.
Secondary Hyperhidrosis is a more common condition that occurs in association with a variety of other disorders. It is important to distinguish Primary Hyperhidrosis from other underlying disorders that can cause excessive sweating (Secondary Hyperhidrosis). These disorders may include impaired thyroid function, malfunction of the pituitary gland, infectious diseases, diabetes, tumors, gout, menopause, side effects of certain drugs, and/or excessive alcohol consumption… wide variety of conditions can cause profuse sweating as a symptom. These conditions include, but are not limited to: impaired thyroid function, pituitary abnormalities, infectious diseases, vascular obstruction, myasthenia gravis, diabetes, a variety of tumors, gout, menopause, odonto onycho dermal dysplasia, dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis (DPR), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1, Ross syndrome, Shapiro’s syndrome, Jadassohn-Lewandowsky syndrome, reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, neurogenic acroosteolysis, Weaver syndrome, Gamstorp-Wohlfart syndrome, Meleda disease, Book syndrome, benign essential tremor, blue rubber bleb nevus, pachyderm, and Von Hippel Lindau disease. (Source).
The International Hyperhidrosis Society has cataloged medications that are known to cause sweating.
Diagnosing and Treating Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis is diagnosed through its symptoms. Generally speaking a person that has had excessive sweating for at least 6 months and has at least two of the following is at least 90% likely to have the primary, or focal, disorder (Source).
- Sweat is bilateral and relatively symmetrical, meaning you sweat the same on both sides of your body.
- Excess sweat impairs your daily activities.
- Experience at least one episode a week.
- The onset of excess sweat is earlier than age 25.
- Have a positive family history (meaning that other members of the family suffer from similar sweating problems).
- Stop sweating while sleeping.
Secondary hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, experiences more generalized, and less localized sweating, that usually began in adulthood and does not stop during sleep. Treatment involves first identifying what underlying medical issue or medication is causing the sweating. There are also treatments available that those of us in the aesthetic procedures industry can help with. Proven, new and novel approaches will be presented at SCALE 2019 Music City. These include the laser treatment recently patented by Lumenis Ltd:
A method for treating a human body to reduce hyperhidrosis includes applying laser light energy to one or more portions of the human body in which the laser light energy is one or more of: about 450 nm, about 930 nm, about 970 nm and about 1060 nm. An apparatus for accomplishing this method includes a source of laser light energy and a controller for controlling the laser light source to apply laser light energy to target and disrupt sweat glands in the human body.
Other recognized treatment options range from medications to surgical, as noted by the Mayo Clinic, and include:
- Prescription antiperspirant
- Prescription creams
- Nerve-blocking medications
- Botulinum toxin injections
- Microwave therapy
- Sweat gland removal
- Nerve surgery (sympathectomy)