Excessive sweating is sweating more than one would expect in relation to the temperature or the degree of exercise or stress. A build-up of sweat may limit activities on a regular basis and lead to social anxiety or embarrassment.
Sweating excessively, or hyperhidrosis can have negative impacts on various parts of your body, such as your palms, soles, underarms, or the front of your face. Excessive sweating may be caused by physical conditions, such as anxiety, or by emotions, like fear. Many patients with hyperhidrosis have found it difficult to control their symptoms.
Causes of Excessive Sweating
Your body cools itself by sweating when it is too hot (when you’re exercising, when you are unwell, or when you are worried). overtime, leading to excessive sweating even when the sweat is not necessary.
Excessive sweating can be caused by the following:
- Certain odors and foods, including citric acid, coffee, chocolate, peanut butter, and spices.
- Emotional stress, especially anxiety.
- Spinal cord injury.
- Infections, such as tuberculosis.
- Malignancies, such as Hodgkin disease
- Severe psychological stress.
- Some prescription drugs, including certain antidepressants (bupropion or Wellbutrin®) and insulins (Humulin® R).
Symptoms of Excessive Sweating
In medical terms, excessive sweating is known as hyperhidrosis. At least once a week, excessive sweating can occur for no apparent cause, which has a direct impact on social life and daily activities.
Signs and symptoms of hyperhidrosis may include:
- Clammy or wet palms of the hands
- Clammy or wet soles of the feet
- Frequent sweating
- Noticeable sweating that soaks through clothing
People with hyperhidrosis might experience the following:
- Irritating and painful skin problems, such as fungal or bacterial infections
- Worrying about having stained clothing
- Reluctant to make physical contact
- Socially withdrawn, sometimes leading to depression
- Select employment where physical contact or human interaction is not a job requirement
- Spend a large amount of time each day dealing with sweat, such as changing clothes, wiping, placing napkins or pads under the arms, washing, wearing bulky, or dark clothes
- Worry more than other people about body odor
When To See The Doctor
Seek immediate medical attention if your heavy sweating is accompanied by lightheadedness, chest pain, or nausea.
Contact your doctor if:
- You suddenly begin to sweat more than usual.
- Sweating disrupts your daily routine.
- You experience night sweats for no apparent reason.
- Sweating causes emotional distress or social withdrawal.
Diagnosis of Excessive Sweating
If you notice you are sweating more than normal, you may need to get one or more tests done to find out the source of the excess perspiration. These blood or urine tests will either confirm or exclude the presence of an underlying medical condition.
Some tests will also screen for the amount of perspiration your body produces. Such tests include:
- Starch-iodine test: Your provider applies an iodine solution to the sweaty area and sprinkles starch over the iodine solution. Where you have excess sweating, the solution turns dark blue.
- Paper test: Your provider places special paper on the affected area to absorb sweat. Later, your provider weighs the paper to determine how much you sweated.
Treatment of Excessive Sweating
Treatments focus on reducing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.
Approaches to treatment include:
Minor hyperhidrosis symptoms may be improved by modifying your lifestyle, such as showering more frequently or wearing breathable textiles. You will talk with your doctor about all of your treatment options, and you will make an informed decision based on that conversation.
Aluminum-based antiperspirants: The sweat glands are sealed off, therefore preventing you from sweating. A doctor or other medical professional may recommend OTC or prescription-strength treatments. More effective antiperspirants may be required. However, these products are also associated with a higher risk of side effects, such as skin inflammation.
An anticholinergic (glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin) may enhance the effectiveness of aluminum-based antiperspirants. Some side effects are difficulty seeing and being unable to go to the bathroom. An antidepressant, which may decrease sweating and soothe your anxiety, may be prescribed by your health care practitioner. Depending on your physician, beta-blockers may also be prescribed for you.
Clinical-grade cloth wipes: Glycopyrronium tosylate (Qbrexza®) reduces armpit sweating. The packaging of each single-use cloth item is convenient to use. Daily use of the wipes for long-term advantages is a good idea.