By Dr. Sravya Chowdary Tipirneni, Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetologist, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield
Do you find yourself daunted by the fact that you sweat excessively? Are you worried or uncomfortable to shake hands due to excessive sweating? Or do you feel like washing your face or taking a shower repeatedly. Well, excessive perspiration can trigger some anxiety and can be a source of awkwardness for some people in a social setting. It can be a real and embarrassing problem. But, few of them really don’t know the actual cause for this excess sweating.
Sweating is a normal bodily function that involves regulating a person’s body temperature, metabolism, hormone levels and blood flow. Perspiration occurs when the body’s temperature rises, in warm weather, whilst exercising, or even when one is nervous, stressed or anxious. However, some people often find themselves sweating more than a normal amount after a short workout or even in cooler weather or even when they’re not engaging in any kind of exerting activities such as sitting and watching television. In medical terms, this condition of excessive sweating is called hyperhidrosis, and it’s of two types.
- Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis: This is a condition where sweating in the hands, underarms, face and feet goes beyond the normal physical need, with no underlying condition or cause.
- Secondary Generalised Hyperhidrosis: This condition causes excessive sweating in all parts of the body as a result of excessive heat or because of an underlying medical condition.
Primary focal hyperhidrosis is one of the most common causes for excessive sweating. The term “focal” refers to points such as palms, forehead and underarms where sweat naturally manifests itself. However, there is no underlying medical cause that has been discovered to cause this condition. The current theory, however, is that there is a possibility this could be a genetically transferred condition in the nervous system.
Secondary generalised hyperhidrosis occurs because of an underlying medical condition. Medical conditions which are likely to cause excessive perspiration include:
- Thyroid issues – People suffering from hyperthyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive are prone to experiencing excessive perspiration. When this happens, the body’s metabolic rate goes into overdrive and produces high levels of sweat.
- Pregnancy– During the term of their pregnancy, women could experience extreme changes in their hormonal and metabolic levels which could result in levels of sweat that are more than normal.
- Diabetes– In diabetic patients, excessive sweating could occur for a number of reasons. Firstly, excessive sweating could be a warning of low blood sugar levels in patients. Secondly, it could also be because of “gustatory sweating” as a result of certain food habits in diabetics who might have suffered nerve damage. Diabetics could also have problems with insulin regulation at night which lowers blood sugar levels. This results in a condition known as nocturnal hyperhidrosis where a diabetic experiences excessive sweating at night.
- Perimenopause– Perimenopause refers to the period right before the female body enters the menopause phase. In this condition, hormone levels fluctuate and hormones such as estrogen cause an imbalance in the body’s temperature regulation and cause hot flashes and excessive sweating.
- Anxiety– One of the most common causes of excessive sweating is anxiety. When a person experiences anxiety, the body’s natural panic response results in the production of excessive perspiration.
Other medical conditions that can also because excessive sweating include infections, obesity, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lymphoma and Gout. Additionally, there are also some groups of medication that cause excessive sweating. These drugs that cause excessive perspiration are called diaphoretics. Medication for conditions like blood pressure, chemotherapy, antibiotics, pain medication and some cardiovascular drugs can cause excessive levels of sweating in people. Excessive perspiration is also a very common side effect of some antidepressant medications.
Excessive sweating and the accompanying foul odour are usually harmless but causes a great level of distress and social embarrassment to the patients. The quality of life and inter-personal relationships are very affected greatly. Novel medical therapies and procedures for ideal candidates have worked wonders and improve the patient’s life drastically.
Chemical anti-perspirants that we prescribe work effectively.
Iontophoresis is also a procedure that is safe, easy and helps.
BOTOX for hyperhidrosis is one of the most popular, non-invasive, highly effective and long-lasting treatments as of today with the least risk. It’s extremely popular and patients remain distress free for almost 6-9 months!
Dermatologists always advice these measures in conjunction with medications:
- Take regular showers
- Use anti-bacterial bathing soaps
- Use anti-perspirant deodorants
- Wear breathable clothing
- Avoid certain foods, spicy and oily especially
- Keep your body cool, consume foods like watermelon, coconut water
- Using armpit shields
Hence, depending on the history and clinical profile of the patient and the type of sweating – Tailor-made treatment plans are made by us Dermatologists.