Sweating is a normal process that helps in maintaining the right temperature for your body. Sweating occurs on the entire body but it would be more on the soles, palms and armpits and on the face. An individual is said to have excessive sweating if he/she sweats a lot irrespective of the temperature or activity level. In other words, a person will sweat excessively even if he is sitting idle and watching television. This would cause discomfort and embarrassment while taking part in social activities. In medical terms excessive sweating is called as hyperhidrosis and this can be managed by taking antiperspirants or sometimes by surgically removing the sweat glands from the body.
Excessive sweating can be classified into 3 types:-
Primary Hyperhidrosis :
Excessive sweating occurs in some body parts like palms, soles and armpits. There will be normal sweating in the rest of the body except few parts given above. This happens for unknown reason. Some believe that primary hyperhidrosis develop if there is an overactive sweat gland in these areas alone.
Secondary Hyperhidrosis :
This type of excessive sweating is rare. Sweating in excess will be there in particular part like hand or leg. Here there will be a definite cause for sweating.
Generalized Hyperhidrosis :
In this type excessive sweating will be there in all over the body. Again there will be underlying cause for hyperhidrosis.
When a person sweats, the body senses excess of heat. The brain would automatically send signals to nervous system which would trigger secretion of sweat by sweat glands. Excessive sweating is present if the nervous system becomes overactive releasing excess of sweat. A person sweats more if he is stress or anxiety. It can happen due to genetic factor since the same gene runs in families. Intake of certain medications, underlying medical issues like overactive thyroid gland, heart problems, low blood sugar and infectious diseases can cause excessive sweat.
There will be excess of sweat in the hands, feet and armpits and even on the face. For extreme cases, excess of sweat will soak the clothing and drip off from the hands. Excessive sweating does not cause any complications but in rare cases it can affect the skin condition causing infection and rashes.
Your doctor will collect the medical history, health condition and medication you are taking at present. In addition he may order for certain lab tests like blood and urine analysis. Special sweat test is done using powder that changes its color when there is excessive sweating. This is called as thermoregulatory test.
The method of treatment depends on the causative factor. It is good to try some home remedies and over the counter medications before going to your doctor. Your doctor would suggest high strength of antiperspirants which can be used before you go to bed. Initially it can cause skin irritation but you would feel better in the morning. If the nervous system is causing the problem your doctor may give pills to block the neurotransmitters. This would eventually stop the communication of the nervous system to the sweat glands. However the drugs can cause some adverse effect.
You can try using aluminum chloride antiperspirants like Anhydrol Forte or Driclor to control excessive sweating. Botox injection is used to block the nerves to stop the function of sweat glands. But it is expensive and the result would not be long lasting. Surgery is done for severe cases of hyperhidrosis. In a process called iontophoresis the doctor would send electric current (in low dose) on the hands, feet and armpit keeping that part in the water. But this therapy has to be repeated for weeks and months to get relief from excessive sweating.
In some cases, the surgeon would remove the sweat glands from particular part of the body like armpits or hands. This process is simple and can be done through minor incisions. In rare cases nerve surgery is done to provide clamps on the spinal nerves to block the signals.
Home Remedies :
First you should check if the soaps you are using are strong since it can cause skin irritation. Hence you can replace it with mild soap. Avoid eating hot and spicy foods since it can trigger excess sweat. Apply antiperspirant daily on the armpits, hands and legs where there is excess of sweat.
Change clothes at least twice a day if you are sweating a lot. Avoid wearing tight clothing. You can use dress shields to absorb sweat easily. Change socks regularly and apply absorbent powder liberally on your feet. Choose right size of shoes that give space for breathing.