While most people have never heard of it, there is a large portion of the population that suffers from a condition called hyperhidrosis. In fact, 15 million Americans suffer from this condition every day.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating in the underarm region of the body. There aren’t many treatments for this condition that don’t come with side effects, so having appropriate clothing and options for people with this condition is a necessity.
A lot of the solutions, however, can be too intrusive. Many turn to ways to hide the excess sweating such as dark clothing or wearing absorbent pads in the underarm area.
Thankfully, there is a new solution.
If you need to know more about hyperhidrosis and the best methods for dealing with excess sweat, keep on reading. We are going to give you all the information that you need to manage hyperhidrosis and stay nice and dry all day long.
What Is Hyperhidrosis?When a patient is excessively sweating, the cause is one of two types of hyperhidrosis. There is Primary Focal and Secondary Generalized hyperhidrosis. It is important to understand the difference between the two and to know which one you are suffering from so you can find the best treatment options that work for you.
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
Excessive sweating that isn’t caused by other medical conditions and isn’t a side effect of something like medication is classified as primary focal hyperhidrosis. This is the most difficult version to treat and fix, as there isn’t a cause for why it is happening.
When the extra sweat is the condition in it of itself, it generally happens in specific areas. This is called a focal area. Most of the time, these areas are symmetric. This means that both sides of the body experience excessive sweating at the same time and in the same way. Areas of the body that can be affected include hands, feet, underarms, faces, and heads.
Sometimes, many more than one area can be affected. Other times, just a singular area is affected. The most common area to be affected by primary focal hyperhidrosis is the underarms. However, the majority of people that have this condition experience sweating in more than one area. There also seems to be some coordination when it comes to multiple areas of the body. For example, if you are a patient that suffers from sweaty palms, sweaty feet very often coincide with that condition.
Most people discover that they have primary focal hyperhidrosis in childhood or during puberty during adolescence. The earliest ones to develop are hyperhidrosis of the hands and feet. Unfortunately, many people grow up just thinking they have sweaty palms because they’re nervous and shy, and they don’t realize that they have a medical condition. This can lead to things like bullying and lack of medical attention.
Individuals with primary focal hyperhidrosis usually experience this excessive sweating at least once every week. Interestingly enough, excessive sweating generally does not occur while they are sleeping.
Primary focal hyperhidrosis is usually an inherited trait. It has been shown that multiple members of the same family suffer from the condition. However, because people feel so ashamed of it, they rarely talk about it. This can lead to entire families and households with the same medical condition, and none of them are getting treatment for it, simply because everyone is embarrassed.
If you are beginning to believe that hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating runs in your family, getting a blood test done in order to test your genetics can help you determine why. This will also help researchers develop better treatments moving forward. Being able to share your condition with scientists is part of critical research that will one day help to find the cure for hyperhidrosis, as at this time there is not one that is available.
Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis
The other type of hyperhidrosis, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, is caused by another medical condition that the patient has. It can also be caused by medications as a common side effect. This is why it is considered a secondary condition, as it is not the primary condition being treated at that time.
Differently from primary focal hyperhidrosis, secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is usually experienced all over the body, or at least in larger areas of the body. This is the main physical difference between the two types of hyperhidrosis.
Additionally, those with secondary generalized hyperhidrosis also report having sweating while they are sleeping, which is different than primary focal. They also report the start of their symptoms in adulthood as that is when people generally develop most medical conditions as well as start taking new medications to treat those different conditions. This is a departure from primary focal hyperhidrosis which usually starts in childhood or adolescence, not adulthood.
Finding treatments for secondary generalized hyperhidrosis usually contains of determining what is causing the excessive sweating. A doctor will go over your medical history as well as discuss any of the medications you are on to determine what is causing the root of the problem. However, if it is an underlying condition that does not have a cure, this could be difficult to find a solution for.
How To Talk To Your Doctor About Hyperhidrosis
As with all medical conditions, you are going to want to talk to your doctor in order to determine what the cause of the problem is and what types of treatment options are available to you. You should be able to ask your doctor to see a specialist. This specialist will usually be an internal medicine doctor.
When you go see the doctor who will be managing your hyperhidrosis, they are going to look at your medical history, give you a full examination, and run or order any of the tests that you may need. You should also be sure to bring your medications with you so that they can take a look and determine if there are medications that should be phased out and if a medication with fewer side effects can be used in its place.
Additionally, you are going to want to bring any vitamins, supplements, and minerals you are taking with you, or at least write them all down. You should also have a food journal or at least a good working memory of the types of foods you have been eating. This can also help your doctor determine if the condition is being caused by an herbal supplement or changes in your diet, which frequently happens.
How To Determine If You Have Primary Focal Or Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis
You can determine if you have primary or secondary hyperhidrosis by asking some questions about your experience. These questions come from an article written by St. Louis based dermatologist Dr. Dee Anna Glaser for the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2004, Vol.54, P. 274-86. Dr. Glaser is the president of the International Hyperhidrosis Society. She is also a founding board member of the society.
Dr. Glaser is an expert in hyperhidrosis who is internationally awarded and recognized. If you have experienced excessive sweating regularly for at least a six-month duration, and you have no idea what could be causing it, then these questions can help you determine what type you have and what the next steps should be.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
- Is your sweat is bilateral and relatively symmetrical, meaning you sweat the same on both sides of your body.?
- Is your excess sweat impairing your daily activities?
- Are you experiencing at least one episode a week?
- Was the onset of your excess sweat earlier than age 25?
- Are there other members of your family with this condition?
- Do you stop sweating when you're sleeping?
If you ask yourself the above questions and find that you answered yes to at least to of them, then you likely have primary focal hyperhidrosis. If not, then you likely have secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
If you are still unsure of which type you have. It is helpful to know that 90% of patients who experience excessive sweating have primary focal hyperhidrosis. That means only 10% of patients who experience excessive sweating have secondary general hyperhidrosis that is caused by medications or other medical conditions.
Next, you should be making an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist who specializes in hyperhidrosis in order to get treatment that can help you live a more normal life once again.
What Is Hypohidrosis?
Hypohidrosis and hyperhidrosis are very similar-sounding terms, so it can be confusing to differentiate between the two. Hypohidrosis, however, is characterized by the inability to sweat, so it is essentially the opposite problem that patients with hypohidrosis are having.
The best way to memorize which is which is to think about the beginning of the word. “Hyper” means excessive, so it goes to reason that hyperhidrosis would mean excessive amounts of sweat. You can also remember that “Hypo” sounds like “no” for “no sweat.”
If you have hypohidrosis, the solutions in this article likely won’t be very helpful to you, but hopefully, this information helps clarify some of the questions you were having about the difference between the two different conditions.
The Best Solutions For Hyperhidrosis
While going to your doctor and trying to figure out permanent treatments for your hyperhidrosis is important, often treatments don’t provide immediate relief, and more often than not the treatments simply aren’t enough to avoid embarrassment. Thankfully, there are some options that can help you get through your day and stay dry.
One of the solutions that we love are sweat-proof undershirts. Sweat-proof undershirts help you stay dry and avoid embarrassing photos that could happen at a work party or wedding, while still helping you stay professional and keep your clothing looking nice and tidy.
Many of these sweat shield undershirts are also sweat stain free undershirts. This means that they are resistant to the staining that can be caused by excessive sweating so that you can have sweat stain free underarms on all your shirts for a very long time.