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Why Do I Have Excessive Sweat and What Can I Do About It?

Everyone sweats. Indeed, perspiration plays an important role in regulating our body temperature. When we get too hot, whether from exercise, high temperatures, stress, or fever, moisture exits our pores and cools us down. Without this mechanism, we would quickly overheat and suffer damage to our internal organs.

But what happens if you start sweating outside of these parameters? Some people may sweat seemingly out of the blue, even if they’re calmly sitting in a temperate environment. This condition is known as hyperhidrosis (or excessive sweating, in simpler terms) and while there are many treatments for it, its causes are sometimes mysterious. Here we’ll go over some reasons you may suffer from excessive sweating and what you can do about it.

What Causes Excessive Sweating?

While identifying excessive sweating is fairly easy, determining its root cause is less clear cut. This condition is divided into two main types: primary and secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis is idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. That said, doctors think that this type of excessive sweating is mainly hereditary. Secondary hyperhidrosis is triggered by another source, such as an illness or medication.

Whatever the reasons for excessive sweating may be, hyperhidrosis always involves overactive sweat glands. When your body is functioning normally, your sweat glands remain at rest until there’s a reason for them to activate. With hyperhidrosis, it’s as if your body’s nerves that dictate sweat production missed the memo to take a break. Excessive sweat most commonly occurs in the same areas as normal sweating does, such as the armpits, palms, and soles of feet. Of course, perspiration can occur anywhere on the body, and some people with hyperhidrosis experience sweat all over.

How Can You Treat Extreme Sweating?

On its own, hyperhidrosis is not dangerous to one’s health, though it can get in the way of daily life. Those with a sweating problem may suffer from low self-esteem and avoid certain activities and interactions. So, it only makes sense that one would want to mitigate these symptoms as much as possible. Excessive sweating may suggest a more serious condition, too. In either case, those who sweat profusely should see a doctor or dermatologist to help determine which type of hyperhidrosis they have and what can be done about it or the potential underlying condition.

While there is not currently a cure for excessive sweating, there are many ways to treat this condition. As always, some methods may be more or less effective depending on the individual case. These treatments for extreme sweating range from oral medications to topical antiperspirants to laser treatments. Here are some of the most common and effective treatment methods available today:

  • Oral Medications (glycopyrrolate, benztropine, propantheline, oxybutynin, etc.) – These drugs are known as anticholinergics, designed to reduce sweating by interrupting the relay of information between the chemical messengers and the sweat gland receptors.
  • High-Performing Antiperspirants – Many people use antiperspirants already (better known as deodorant), but those containing some aluminum (whether over the counter or prescription-only) may help those with profuse sweating problems.
  • Iontophoresis – This option is for those who have tried other treatments for hyperhidrosis to no avail. Iontophoresis involves a low, safe electrical current passing through your hands and feet in trays of water for about a half-hour at a time. After repeat treatments, this method can effectively put an end to excessive sweating, especially if done one or two times a month.
  • Laser Therapy – The energy from lasers can be used to deactivate sweat glands in certain areas of the body, namely the armpits.
  • Botulinum Toxin-A (Botox) – When injected in the underarms, Botox can also greatly reduce sweating particularly in these areas.
  • miraDry® – A more recent invention, miraDry® targets and deactivates sweat glands, but instead of using lasers, it uses microwaves.

At Southeast Dermatology Specialists, we know how debilitating excessive sweating can be. Allow our experts to help you find the right treatment for your condition and provide advice for dealing with hyperhidrosis. Contact us to learn more about our services and providers.

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