Below is a brief presentation on Hyperhidrosis that we recently uploaded on Slideshare.
Hyperhidrosis can affect a particular body parts, or the overall body. Palms, feet, underarm, and the groin are most common areas impacted by Hyperhidrosis. For some reason, medical professionals like to call them by more complicated names, and its useful to know the medical terms of your Hyperhidrosis. Following are the key types of hyperhidrosis. Please note that the various types of hyperhidrosis are not mutually exclusive – people can (and often) suffer from hyperhidrosis in multiple body parts.
General hyperhidrosis is a condition when the excess sweating occurs throughout the body and is not limited to any particular body part. This type of hyperhidrosis can often be a secondary hyperhidrosis (i.e. caused by an underlying medical condition) – however, that is not always the case.
Palmar Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for the hyperhidrosis impacting hands (primarily palms). This is one of the most common types of hyperhidrosis. People suffering from this type of hyperhidrosis sweat on their palms. This is probably the most socially awkward type of excessive sweat affecting social interactions including shaking hands or holding hands. It may also cause more practical issues like holding tools or steering wheel.
Palmar Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for the hyperhidrosis impacting feet (primarily soles). People suffering from this type of hyperhidrosis sweat on their feet. While this type of hyperhidrosis is easier to hide under shoes/socks, it is still a difficult condition as it may make the feet slippery.
Axillary hyperhidrosis is the medical term for hyperhidrosis concentrated in the underarm area. Underarm are has the highest concentration of sweat glands on the body and most of the people sweat heavily in this area when doing physical activity (e.g. running). People with Axillary Hyperhidrosis sweat from underarm areas even without any trigger. People with Axillar hyperhidrosis usually show a sweat patch on their shirts/t-shirts and may become self-conscious and nervous in social settings because of this.
Facial hyperhidrosis is, as the name implies, condition causing excessive sweat on head and face. This type of hyperhidrosis can be most embarrassing socially as it is difficult to hide (unlike palmar, plantar or axillary hyperhidrosis). Excessive sweat on face can often be misconstrues as nervousness, exertion or ill-health and can damage person's social lifestyle.
Truncal Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating in the groin, buttock, vagina and/or thigh region. This type of hyperhidrosis, while usually hidden is very uncomfortable and in some cases lead to fungal infection as the area takes longer to dry than other areas affected by hyperhidrosis.
So, what type of hyperhidrosis do you have?
Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) may be caused following reasons.
Excessive Sweating Cause # 1: Genetics
Primary or focal hyperhidrosis usually starts during adolescence or even before, and seems to be inherited as an dominant genetic trait.
The process of passing on hyperhidrosis is believed to be autosomal dominant mode (a type of genetic inheritance) – essentially meaning that there is about 1 in 2 chance of a parent having the hyperhidrosis gene passing it to their kids (if only one of the parent has the affected gene)
Not everyone who has the gene shows signs of Hyperhidrosis. It is believed that about 5% of the population carries the hyperhidrosis genes, though only 3% of them show the symptoms. However, a person who apparently does not suffer from hyperhidrosis may in fact pass along the condition to their offspring. This may provide an explanation for those individuals having hyperhidrosis that do not seem to have any history of the condition in their immediate family.
Excessive Sweating Cause # 2: Underlying Medical Condition
Hyperhidrosis may also be cause by an underlying medical condition including disorder of the thyroid or pituitary glands, diabetes mellitus, tumors, gout, menopause, certain drugs, or mercury poisoning etc, The full list of underlying causes is still not known. This type of hyperhidrosis is called Secondary hyperhidrosis and can start at any point in life, usually in adulthood.
Excessive Sweating Cause # 3: Sympathetic Over Activity and Other Triggers
Some also claim that Hyperhidrosis may be caused by sympathetic over-activity. Nervousness or excitement can exacerbate the situation for many sufferers. Other factors can play a role; certain foods and drinks, nicotine, caffeine, and smells can trigger a response.
According to various estimates, about 3% of the world's population is affected with some type of Hyperhidrosis.
What is hyperhidrosis?
As we know, sweating is an essential mechanism to regulate body temperature. However, for some people, this mechanism is overactive – i.e. the person sweats much more than it is necessary to regulate the temperature without any usual triggers (heat, anxiety, nervousness etc).
How Hyperhidrosis Impacts Patients?
For those with hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating happens nearly all the time — even if they are relaxing in cool temperatures. It can be so severe, in fact, that it may require a frequent change of clothes just to get through the day. Such excessive sweating can be embarrassing, uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. But it's not just a cosmetic or hygiene issue; hyperhidrosis also have real social or occupational consequences, ranging from slippery handshakes to hard-to-grip steering wheels.
It can disrupt all aspects of a person's life, from career choices and recreational activities to relationships, emotional well-being, and self-image. This kind of excessive sweating is a serious medical condition. It's called hyperhidrosis and it afflicts millions of people around the world (approximately 3% of the population) but because of lack of awareness, a large proportion of these people are never diagnosed or treated for their symptoms.
Sweating (also called perspiration) is the release of a salty liquid from the body's sweat glands. Sweat is an important mechanism to protect body from overheating. Evaporation of the sweat from skin surface makes us cooler and helps the body maintain its temperature. Sweat comes out through sweat glands distributed all over our body. Human bodies have about two to four million sweat glands.
How We Sweat?
How much you sweat depends on how many sweat glands you have. A person is born with about two to four million sweat glands. The glands start to become fully active during puberty. Women have more sweat glands then men, but men's glands are more active.
Sweating is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that is not under your control. Because sweating is the body's natural way of regulating temperature, people sweat more when it's hot outside. People also sweat more when they exercise, or in response to situations that make them nervous, angry, embarrassed, or afraid. These nerves respond to a variety of stimuli including:
- messages from the brain indicating that the body is too hot
- physical activity or exercise.
Two Types of Sweat Glands
There are 2 types of sweat glands:
- Most of these glands are what are called “eccrine” sweat glands and are found in large numbers, primarily on the plams, the soles, the forehead and cheeks, and in the armpits. These glands secrete an odorless, clear fluid that helps the body to control its temperature by promoting heat loss through evaporation. In general, the type of sweat involved in hyperhidrosis is eccrine sweat.
- The other type of sweat gland is called an “apocrine” gland. Apocrine glands are found in the armpits and genital region. They produce a thick fluid. When this fluid comes in contact with bacteria on the skin’s surface, it produces a characteristic potent “body odor”.
Why Some People Have Excessive Sweating?
In people who have excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, the sweat glands (eccrine glands in particular) overreact to stimuli and are just generally overactive, producing more sweat than is necessary. It’s often said that people with hyperhidrosis have sweat glands that are stuck in the “on” position.