Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that occurs even when the temperature isn’t hot and you’re not exercising.  It is estimated to affect about 3% of the general population, affecting both men and woman equally. It can be extremely disruptive to normal daily activities and can cause social anxiety or embarrassment.

Hyperhidrosis can be divided into 2 forms:

  • Primary (focal) and
  • Secondary (generalised)

Primary or focal hyperhidrosis is sweating that is localized to specific sites of the body, with no apparent cause.  The most common areas are:

  • Underarm – Axillary hyperhidrosis
  • Hands – Palmar hyperhidrosis
  • Feet – Plantar hyperhidrosis and
  • Head and Face – Craniofacial hyperhidrosis

Focal hyperhidrosis occurs in otherwise healthy patients and the most common cause of focal hyperhidrosis is primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis.

Primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis is usually diagnosed when a person has experienced at least 6 months of excessive visible sweating and two of the following:

  • Bilateral symmetrical sweating
  • Impairment of daily activities
  • At least one episode per week
  • Onset before 25 years of age
  • Positive family history
  • Focal sweating that ceases during sleep

Secondary or generalised hyperhidrosis affects the entire body and is usually a result of an underlying medical condition.  A distinction between generalised and focal hyperhidrosis should be made by your GP or specialist before proceeding with any treatment.

What should you do, if you suffer excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)?

First, recognize the disorder for what it is, and do not underestimate its potential capacity for eroding your health, happiness and productivity.  Many patients may not be aware that hyperhidrosis is a disease and have learned to live with their symptoms for far too long.

If this is you, it’s time to seek assistance from a sweat specialist.

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