What is excessive sweating (medical name is hyperhidrosis)?

Any sweating that is annoying or that affects your sleeping, work or social interactions is excessive.

What are the causes of excessive sweating?

Some medications and underlying diseases and conditions such as diabetes, thyroid gland diseases, gout, pregnancy, some tumors and diseases of nervous system can cause excessive sweating. However, in many cases the cause is unknown, and those cases are then called “primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis”.

Where can it occur?

It usually affects armpits, palms and/or soles; however, it can affect the entire skin. When it affects the entire skin, then there is a very high chance that there is some underlying problem, medication or condition causing excessive sweating.

What is the treatment of excessive sweating?

Any known cause of increased sweating must be removed or treated; however, if the cause is unknown, then the usual first step is to use medications that stop sweating such as aluminum chloride (brand name Drysol) when applied to the skin. It should be used on dry skin nightly and washed off in the morning. It may take 2-3 weeks before the excessive sweating gets under control. The next step is iontophoresis, which is the process of driving of ions into the skin with a weak electric current, which reduces sweating. You may buy an iontophoresis machine, rent it, or have treatment in your health care provider’s office. Click here for a review of various iontophoresis devices. Another good option is a botulinum toxin injection (brand name: Botox) that can decrease sweating for several months. If none of the above is helping, then some oral pills such as glycopyrrolate (brand name Robinul Forte), or even surgical removal of the sweat glands, or cutting the nerves that stimulate sweat glands should be carefully considered.

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