Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Hyperhidrosis and sweating

  • Comment



VOL: 99, ISSUE: 08, PAGE NO: 28

- Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating as a result of overactivity of the eccrine (sweat) glands in the affected area, triggered by the sympathetic nervous system.

- The condition can be idiopathic (spontaneous) or pathological. It is a chronic condition that may be localised (focal) or generalised.

- It will usually have significant social and professional consequences and therefore reduce the overall quality of life.

- Idiopathic focal hyperhidrosis most commonly affects the palms and/or feet, followed by the axilla (armpit). Some people experience hyperhidrosis of the face, which may be accompanied by blushing.

- Although the exact cause is unknown, it is thought to be physiological rather than psychological and family history is present in 30 to 50 per cent of cases.

- Generalised hyperhidrosis, where excessive sweating occurs all over the body, may be idiopathic or have a pathological cause, including diabetes, chronic infection, malignancy or a reaction to drugs.

- The main symptom is excessive sweating that impacts upon the person’s quality of life.

- It occurs for no apparent reason and due to the embarrassment it causes, may lead to social phobias.

- If untreated, hyperhidrosis can lead to dehydration and maceration of the skin, resulting in infection.

Medical and surgical treatments are:

- Topical anti-perspirants - aluminium chloride-based treatments can be effective;

- Oral anticholinergics provide dose-related inhibition of sweating but severe side-effects/poor success;

- Lontophoresis - the topical introduction of salt ions with or without anticholinergic drugs into the skin by an electrical current. It can be time consuming and uncomfortable;

- Botulism toxin - can be used to block the chemical transmitters that cause sweating. Most effective in axillary hyperhidrosis, less effective on the palms;

- Surgery - endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy cuts or clips a section of sympathetic nerve. This is a potentially permanent solution that is particularly successful for hyperhidrosis of the palms.

- Nurses should be aware of the social and psychological implications of hyperhidrosis and be able to address patient needs in a sensitive manner. People with this condition may be embarrassed to shake hands or remove their jackets and it can lead to anxiety disorders.

- Many of the treatments have side-effects. Surgery often results in compensatory sweating, which can be severe, in another part of the body.

- Minimally invasive techniques have improved the surgical outcomes of thoracic sympathectomy and this technique continues to evolve.

- The more limited sympathectomy procedure, involving only T2 and T3 ganglia, has recently been reported as effective in reducing the frequency of postoperative compensatory hyperhidrosis (Johnson et al, 2002). Treatment with botulism toxin is also proving to be effective and popular with patients (Naumann et al, 2001).

Naumann, M. et al (2001)
Hyperhidrosis: current understanding, current therapy. Online resource:

  • Comment

Related files

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.