Understanding Excessive Sweating: Hyperhidrosis
Published on in Health Tip of the Week
It's summer, and when it gets hot, our bodies sweat to help regulate our body temperature. But for some people, sweating in much greater amounts than necessary happens regardless of the temperature. This condition is called hyperhidrosis. In most cases, hyperhidrosis occurs for no apparent reason.
When it is focused on certain areas of the body, including the hands, armpits and feet, it is called primary focal hyperhidrosis. If hyperhidrosis occurs with other conditions, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), it is called secondary hyperhidrosis.
Primary focal hyperhidrosis affects 1 to 3 percent of the population. It affects boys and girls equally, with symptoms starting in childhood or adolescence.
How to recognize primary focal hyperhidrosis
When patients with primary focal hyperhidrosis begin to sweat, it is more than a mere inconvenience. Patients experience constant extreme sweating in the affected areas, with the sweat only stopping during sleep. It is worse in warm environments and when a child is stressed. Hands and feet are the most common places where the excessive sweating occurs.
Most children notice the intense sweating for the first time when their very moist palms begin to interfere with school and social activities. Excessive sweating in the hands can severely affect the ability to write, hold papers, use touch screens and hold objects. Many children are embarrassed by the condition and may begin to shy away from friends and social situations.
Your child's pediatrician or a dermatologist can diagnose the condition. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia offers the full spectrum of treatments for hyperhidrosis, including:
- Topical agents
- Oral medications
- Iontophoresis (low-voltage electrical therapy)
- Surgery (A surgical procedure called a thoracoscopic sympathectomy severs the connection between the nerve signals and the sweat glands. Not all patients are eligible for surgery.)
If you suspect that your child has hyperhidrosis, contact your pediatrician and make an appointment.