Approximately 4 million sweat glands cover the body and produce the clear liquid that we know as sweat. The body produces sweat to help regulate its temperature. Certain triggers can cause us to sweat, including warm temperatures, exercise, nervousness, fear, or embarrassment. In people with hyperhidrosis, the amount of sweat produced is greater than normal and may occur even when the surrounding temperature is cool.
Hyperhidrosis usually happens in people aged 25 to 64, although younger people may also be affected. Interruptions to daily activities as well as other social disruptions caused by excess sweat are a common result of this condition. In some cases, people don't seek treatment from a doctor because they do not realize that treatment exists to reduce the amount of sweat a person produces.
The cause of hyperhidrosis is overactive sweat glands. There are two types of hyperhidrosis: generalized and focal.
In generalized hyperhidrosis (also known as secondary hyperhidrosis), excessive sweating occurs over the entire body. It is often caused by a medical condition such as an infection, a chronic disease, or a disorder that disrupts the body's natural balance of hormones. It may also be caused by medications (e.g., antidepressants).
Focal hyperhidrosis (also known as primary hyperhidrosis) occurs on a specific part of the body including the armpits, soles of the feet, palms of hands, face, or other areas. Genetics play a role as many people with focal hyperhidrosis have other family members with the condition. Hyperhidrosis is not a contagious condition.
Excessive sweating is the main symptom of hyperhidrosis. It may affect the entire body or just certain body areas, such as the armpits, hands, face, or feet.
Because it causes increased wetness on the surface of the hands, the face, and other areas of the body, this condition may significantly affect a person's social life.
Many people feel self-conscious about shaking hands or hugging, and may avoid physical activity because it makes them sweat. Feelings of embarrassment and humiliation are common. The excessive sweating may also interfere with a person's ability to do their job.