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Hyperhidrosis: why am I so sweaty?

Hyperhidrosis: why am I so sweaty?

Hyperhidrosis: why am I so sweaty?

It’s healthy and normal to sweat, but for a large portion of the population, excessive sweating can ruin their day. Dermatologist Dr Mei Heng Tan sheds light on sweating and what you can do for excessive sweating.

Sweating is a very important part of a body’s thermal regulation system. There are 3 million sweat glands on the body and these are concentrated on the forehead, face, hands, underarms and feet. They produce sweat that is excreted through skin pores to protect us from overheating. As the sweat evaporates it cools our skin down and this keeps the body cool. 

Also, very small amounts of sweat production on areas such as the palms and soles assist in these areas sensation of feeling, touch and contact.

What’s normal when it comes to sweating?

Regular sweating controls our body temperature and is a normal response to triggers such as hot environments, physical exercising, emotional stress eating hot or spicy foods and fever associated with illness. Normal sweating is influenced by gender, age, fitness, and environment humidity and ventilation. Normal sweating does not impact or impair daily activity or quality of life.

What causes people to get so sweaty when hot weather or exercise aren’t involved?

Other stimulants of sweating include anxiety, stress or fear, certain foods such as spicy foods, coffee or tea, or illness causing fever.

Excessive Sweating (hyperhidrosis) can occur by itself without triggers i.e. there is no know cause – often this type has its onset is in adolescence and may be inherited occurring in many members of one family or secondary to an underlying medical condition such as thyroid disease, diabetes or menopause.

What’s hyperhidrosis and what are the symptoms?

Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is a medical condition which occurs when sweat glands cannot regulate properly and can’t stop producing sweat.

Symptoms are excessive sweating from underarms, palms, soles, face or general body areas which occurs more than usual, is unpredictable, may be visible and impacts a person’s normal daily activities, work and quality of life i.e. uncontrolled sweat dripping from palms can affect confidence and a person’s ability to work, excessive underarm sweating can be very visible and stain and ruin clothing, a person might want to do a lot of hiding or concealing the fact that they have this condition. People who are affected are often too embarrassed to discuss this condition.

What can you do about hyperhidrosis?

Treatment options include over the counter antiperspirants, clinical antiperspirants which are stronger which contain topical aluminium chloride and available from pharmacies- these are more effective but can be sometimes irritating, injections such as botulinum toxin type A, iontophoresis – a procedure in which a current is passed through water to the affected skins surface, non invasive microwave technology, oral medications which may be prescribed by a physician and surgery to remove the sweat glands locally or block the nerves supplying the sweat glands.

What’s the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant and when should you use one of the other?

A deodorant is a substance applied to the body to prevent body odour caused by the bacterial breakdown of sweat in armpits, feet, and other areas of the body. Antiperspirants, affect odour but also prevent sweating by decreasing sweat production by sweat glands. Antiperspirants are typically applied to the underarms while deodorants may also be used on feet, other areas of the body and even clothing and can be in the form of body sprays.

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