Excessive Sweating (Hyperhydrosis)

Excessive sweating is also known as hyperhydrosis. Sweating is one of the most important ways in which the body loses heat; however, people with Hyperhydrosis produce sweat in amounts far greater than needed to control their temperature.

What’s happening in the body to cause excessive sweating?

Excessive sweating (hyperhydrosis) is caused by over activity of one type of sweat gland, the eccrine gland. Many things can trigger normal sweating and this is also true for Hyperhydrosis – it’s just the amount of sweating that’s different. Examples of the causes of excessive sweating include:

  • Exercise
  • Stress, anxiety or strong emotions
  • Heat or cold
  • Certain times of the day
  • Alcohol, coffee or tea, smoking or spicy food

People with hyperhydrosis can produce a large amount of sweat. This means that the armpits may be constantly damp. This can cause embarrassment at work or socially, and it may make normal everyday activities more difficult to carry out. But it is not true that Hyperhydrosis causes body odor: the smell that some think is due to sweating is in fact caused by bacteria on the skin if the sweat remains on the skin for a long time.

What can I do about Hyperhydrosis?

Simple self-help measures you can take include:

  • Choose clothing that will keep you cool. Natural fibres are cool but they absorb sweat and can remain damp; some synthetic fibres are warm but they wick sweat away from the body and feel dry.
  • Keep your work environment cool and well aired
  • Avoid the food and drinks that trigger sweating; these will be different for everyone and you will probably know what causes problems for you.
  • Stress, tension and anxiety are common problems for everyone, though people with Hyperhydrosis have the extra difficulties of coping with sweating. Think about how you can reduce stress during the day: plan your activities carefully and make time to relax.
  • Odor can be prevented by attention to personal hygiene (such as frequent showers); although this will not be convenient for people who constantly sweat, it is an effective and simple measure to take.