Excessive Sweating – Everything You Need to Know to Handle this Condition

June 5, 2019

Business man with excessive sweating

In the past few years, many companies have come up with their own take on treatment for excessive sweating. And more and more people are visiting U.S. Dermatology Partners locations with questions about these treatment options and solutions to address excessive sweating in general. We talked to Dr. Russell Peckham from U.S. Dermatology Partners in Cedar Park, Texas, to get answers to some of the questions he hears most often about excessive sweating. We’ve compiled Dr. Peckham’s answers below, but this list is by no means comprehensive. Don’t hesitate to contact a U.S. Dermatology Partners location near you to learn more.

What is Excessive Sweating?

Sweating is a perfectly natural bodily function. It’s one of the many ways that our bodies regulate temperature. When you’re exercising or exposed to high temperatures, sweating is to be expected. However, if you’re sweating more than expected for the energy you’re exerting and the current temperature, you may be suffering from excessive sweating. This condition is sometimes referred to as hyperhidrosis. For some, excessive sweating impacts the entire body, but others have localized sweating in specific areas like the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis), palms (palmar hyperhidrosis), or feet (plantar hyperhidrosis).  If you experience excessive sweating at least once per week, you might want to talk to a professional about treatment.

What Causes Excessive Sweating?

Hyperhidrosis is caused by overactive glands that are responsible for sweat production and body temperature regulation, but for the most part, there is no specific underlying cause of this condition. That’s why most diagnosed cases of hyperhidrosis are considered idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown or unclear. Other people inherit this condition through their genes, so make sure to let your dermatologist know if someone else in your family struggles with this condition. Rarely, certain illnesses, medications, and neurological injury or damage may be to blame for excessive sweating. Your dermatologist will review your family history, medications, illnesses, and injuries with you to ensure you receive the most accurate diagnosis.

When do People First Notice Excessive Sweating?

According to Dr. Peckham, “Most people first notice excessive sweating during their teen and pre-teen years as bodies begin to change and hormone levels increase.” However, excessive sweating can develop at any age.

Does Hyperhidrosis Usually Affect Men More Than Women?

As adolescents, young men and women sweat about the same amount. As we age, men produce higher volumes of sweat than women due to their typically larger size and higher overall body temperatures. Hyperhidrosis, Dr. Peckham says, is, “more common in women.” However, both men and women can be impacted by excessive sweating.

When is Excessive Sweating Considered a Problem?

Many people are able to lead happy, healthy lives with mild or infrequent hyperhidrosis. Dr. Peckham recommends working with a professional if your excessive sweating, “causes psychological distress, interferes with social functions and relationships, prevents you from engaging in daily activities, or causes problems at work.”

What are the Treatment Options for Excessive Sweating?

If the dermatologist identifies an underlying cause of your excessive sweating, like a specific medication or illness, we’ll begin by providing treatment to address this root cause of your condition. If no specific cause can be found, some combination of the following therapies may be recommended:

Over the Counter & Prescription Strength Antiperspirants

Antiperspirants are used to dry up sweat glands. Some people see good results with antiperspirants found in local pharmacies or grocery stores, but prescription strength products may be necessary if regular strength products don’t deliver the desired results.

Topical & Oral Anticholinergics

Anticholinergics are available both as topical medications (like the brand Qbrexa) and oral medications. These medications block specific, overactive neurotransmitters that may cause excessive sweating. While many patients have experienced success with these medication options, anticholinergics have not yet been studied in clinical trials specifically for excessive sweating.  They have, however, received FDA approval for this usage based on the results of studies for other treatments.

Iontophoresis

This is a commonly used treatment for excessive sweating that impacts the hands and feet. The affected extremities are placed in a pan filled with water. Then, a low-voltage electrical current is passed through the water. This freezes the sweat glands. A single treatment has been shown to significantly reduce sweating for several hours up to a week. Six to ten treatments are recommended for most people.

Botox

Most people think of injections for wrinkle reduction when they hear Botox, but this injectable treatment is actually utilized in a variety of situations, including the treatment of excessive sweating. Botox uses a controlled level of Botulinum Toxin A injected into the affected area to reduce nerve impulses to the glands that control sweat production. The injections limit the nerve stimulus, leading to reduced sweating.

Surgery

If other treatments have not worked and you struggle with severe hyperhidrosis, your physician may recommend surgical intervention. In most cases, the recommended surgical intervention will be thoracic sympathectomy, which interrupts a specific part of the sympathetic nervous system that controls sweat production in the area affected by excessive sweating.

Is Treatment for Excessive Sweating Covered by Insurance?

In most cases, your medical insurance provider will cover the recommended treatments for hyperhidrosis, but everyone’s insurance plan is different. We will carefully review your policy and discuss available coverage before we begin treatment.

Does Having Hyperhidrosis Indicate any Other Health Conditions?

Hyperhidrosis is generally not indicative of a larger health problem. According to Dr. Peckham, in a small number of cases, “Excessive sweating can be caused by infections, endocrine conditions, or lymphoma.” In these cases, you will need to seek treatment for the underlying cause of the condition rather than treating hyperhidrosis.

When Should I Visit a Dermatologist for Excessive Sweating?

Treatment for hyperhidrosis should be sought out if the condition is adversely impacting your day to day life or your self-confidence. If you live in Cedar Park, Austin, or anywhere throughout Central, Texas, Dr. Peckham and the U.S. Dermatology Partners Cedar Park would love to see you. We also have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.

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