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What is Hyperhidrosis? Causes & Treatments

February 25, 2020 5 min read

what is hyperhidrosis

Sweating is a natural body function, and something that we all do. We sweat when we play sports, run errands, spend time outside on a hot day or perform chores around the house. Some of us even equate sweating with working hard and performing our best.

For those people who suffer from chronic sweating, it may be more than a case of the jitters or overexertion. When sweating becomes excessive, it may be caused by a medical condition called hyperhidrosis… and it can wreak havoc on your daily life.

You may wonder, what is hyperhidrosis? What causes it and how is it treated? Keep reading as we explore hyperhidrosis, its known causes, and various treatments and lifestyle adjustments to help you better manage your symptoms.

What is hyperhidrosis?

As mentioned, hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by excessive and unstoppable sweating. Worldwide, one in 20 people experience excessive sweating. It is estimated that about 3% of Americans suffer from either axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating in the armpits) or palmoplantar hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet).

Both cases of hyperhidrosis typically surface during adolescence, with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis beginning around age 13 and axillary hyperhidrosis typically starting out later in adolescence.

Unfortunately, there is no permanent treatment for hyperhidrosis; so symptoms may continue throughout a person’s lifetime. Depending on the area(s) of the body affected by the sweat, it can drastically affect a person’s ability to confidently address a group or even perform the simplest of tasks, such as gripping a pen or steering wheel.

What causes hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis varies between primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis.

  • Primary focal hyperhidrosis is the most common form. It typically affects specific areas of the body (head, hands, feet, armpits, crotch). There is no known cause for it; though it may be hereditary.
  • Secondary hyperhidrosis is less common. It usually accompanies an existing medical condition or is a side effect from medication. Potential causes include kidney disease, diabetes and hormonal imbalance.

There is no permanent treatment for hyperhidrosis, so symptoms may continue throughout a person’s lifetime.

What are the symptoms of hyperhidrosis?

The most obvious symptom of hyperhidrosis is uncontrollable, excessive sweating in one or more areas of your body for a prolonged period of time.

Complications from excessive sweating may include:

  • Experiencing interruptions to your daily routine.
  • Feeling anxiety about crowded spaces, physical closeness, shaking hands.
  • Withdrawing from social occasions and activities.

How do you treat hyperhidrosis?

The best way to approach hyperhidrosis treatment is to first determine your symptoms, including the area on your body most affected by sweat. Think about how it affects your routine, and look for ways to improve your daily life. While there is not a hyperhidrosis cure, below we examine some of the tried-and-true ways to treat and manage it.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

There are many hyperhidrosis remedies that can be implemented at home. In concert with these all natural remedies, there are also simple lifestyle changes you can implement to help manage your symptoms.

Look in your pantry and bathroom for natural home remedies.

Some examples include:

  • Apple cider vinegar: As a natural astringent, apply it to your skin with a cotton ball to control sweating and reduce odor-causing bacteria.
  • Sage and black tea: Teas constrict and shrink pores, reducing sweat and killing bacteria that can lead to odor. Use as a hand or foot soak by steeping for several minutes and cool to room temperature. Soak your palms or feet in the tea for 30 minutes.
  • Baking soda: It can be used to absorb sweat, lower pH levels, and block odors. Mix it equally with cornstarch and apply to clean dry underarms several times a day for best results.
  • Witch hazel: This natural astringent also shrinks pores. It works well to control sweaty faces. Simply apply with a cotton pad and remove after 30 minutes.
how to treat hyperhidrosis
    Reassess your wardrobe and shoes.
    • To keep your feet from sweating, wear shoes made from a natural material, such as leather, or a breathable fabric. Avoid shoes made with synthetic materials. Pair with EJIS antimicrobial dress socks to keep feet dry and odor-free.
    • Allow shoes to dry completely before wearing again. Many people benefit from alternating shoes every other day.
    • As with shoes, avoid clothing made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester and acrylic. Instead look for clothes made from natural fibers and that are breathable in nature.
    • Look into clothing specifically designed for people with hyperhidrosis. If your problem areas are your underarms or buttocks, try out EJIS sweat proof undershirts and boxer briefs. EJIS sweat proof basics act as invisible shields between sweat and your clothes... and they keep you smelling fresh with odor-fighting silver.
    Learn how to properly apply antiperspirant.
    • For starters, make sure you are using the most effective antiperspirant. There are many clinical-strength formulas you can get without a prescription.
    • Apply antiperspirant to completely dry skin in the morning and at night. Make sure the application dries completely before getting dressed.
    • Consider shaving your armpits to get the most from your antiperspirant.
    Make needed dietary adjustments.
    • Avoid processed and fatty foods. They are harder to digest, which means your body will sweat more during the digestive process. Instead, eat easily digested foods, such as fresh greens.
    • Hot, spicy foods are known to increase sweating.
    • Avoid caffeine as it stimulates your nervous system, which activates your sweat glands.
    • Increase your water intake to ensure you stay hydrated. Your body sweats more when it is dehydrated.
    • Avoid drinking alcohol. It causes your body temperature to rise, which triggers your sweat glands to try to cool it down.
    Avoid smoking cigarettes.
    • Smoking cigarettes also makes you sweat more, like when you drink too much caffeine.

      There are many hyperhidrosis remedies that can be implemented at home.

      Medical Treatments

      If treatments at home prove ineffectual, you may need to seek out medical advice. Medical options range from topical applications to slightly more invasive treatments. We've listed some of the most common medical treatments below. We encourage you to speak to your doctor to learn more about how to treat hyperhidrosis and the medical options available to you. 
      • Pharmaceutical-strength antiperspirants or medicated cloths may improve your sweaty situation.
      • Botox injections can temporarily block sweat glands.
      • MiraDry is a microwave therapy that “zaps” sweat glands to temporarily halt sweat production.
      • Iontophoresis therapy uses low electrical currents to shock sweat glands into shape while hands and feet are submerged in water.

      Unfortunately there is no one hyperhidrosis treatment that works for everyone. But there are ways to manage and treat it on your own or with the help from your doctor. While you’re trying to figure out how to treat hyperhidrosis symptoms, check out EJIS sweatproof basics to keep your clothes dry and your spirits high.

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