What is hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating. It is a skin condition that causes excess sweating on the palms, soles of the feet, and underarms typically on both sides of the body. It may also affect the face, scalp and groin. About 3% of the population is affected by excessive sweating. About 50% of people have excessive sweating involving the underarm.
Hyperhidrosis is a common condition that often causes embarrassment and negatively impacts quality of life including social, emotional and work impairment. When sweating interferes with your life, causes distress or withdrawal from social situations it’s time to see Dr. Michael Sotiriou.
What causes excessive sweating?
The cause is unknown but does not require a trigger and is not always related to physical activity or warm weather. There are two types. Primary hyperhidrosis usually starts in childhood or early adulthood, and frequently runs in families. It is caused by overactive sweat glands and a misfunction of the autonomic nervous system.
Secondary hyperhidrosis is usually caused by underlying medical condition such as menopause or thyroid conditions, and certain medications. This type of hyperhidrosis typically causes sweating all over the body.
How does someone know if they sweat excessively?
The sweating is so excessive that it can soak through clothing and drip off the body.
It typically occurs more than once a week. It doesn’t happen while sleeping and does become worse when the patient is anxious or under stress.
Excessive sweating can make it difficult to shake hands causing embarrassment. It can impair the ability to work making it difficult to hold tools or even hold a steering wheel, and can stain clothing. When excessive sweating interferes with the patient’s daily life and happens at least once a week for more than six months it is time to see a doctor.
How is it diagnosed?
Dr. Michael Sotiriou will review your medical and family history, ask questions about your symptoms, review your medications and conduct a physical exam. He may recommend lab tests to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
How is excessive sweating treated?
When an underlying medical condition is causing or contributing to excessive sweating Dr. Michael Sotiriou may treat the underlying condition or refer you to your primary care doctor or a specialist as needed.
For the treatment of primary hyperhidrosis, there are many options available including topical preparations, systemic medications, Botox® and surgery. Treatment is tailored to each patient’s needs and the severity of their condition.
- Medications may include prescription antiperspirants, wipes, prescription creams, oral medications to block the nerves, and antidepressants which treat excessive sweating and the anxiety caused by the condition.
- Iontophoresis is a treatment that may be recommended when excessive sweating occurs on the hands and/or feet. It is a home treatment that involves the use of gentle electric currents to temporarily block the sweat glands from working. It is safe and effective to treat excessive sweating but can requires up to ten treatments to be effective.
- Botox injections are FDA approved to treat primary hyperhidrosis of the underarms. However recent research reports that this treatment can be effective for other areas of the body such as the hands, feet and head. Small amounts of Botox are injected in several areas under the skin to block nerve signals from reaching the sweat glands, to reduce the function of the sweat glands. Results last 4-6 months or longer and can be repeated as needed.
- Surgery may be considered when all other treatments fail to provide relief. It may involve removal of the sweat glands or cutting certain nerves that control the sweat glands.
- Destruction of the sweat glands can be accomplished by noninvasive procedures using microwave, laser and ultrasound energy. These are focused treatment for underarm sweating. Eliminating these sweat glands will not impair the ability to sweat and regulate body temperature.
Dr. Michael Sotiriou and his caring team will explore your treatment options with you to ensure you have the information you need to make an informed decision. Contact him at Salt Lake Dermatology & Aesthetics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
At a Glance
Dr. Michael Sotiriou
- Board-certified, Residency-Trained Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist
- Sub-Specialty Board Certification in Mohs Micrographic Dermatologic Surgery from the American Board of Dermatology
- Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology
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