Hyperhidrosis can be of many types but can typically be classified into local and generalised hyperhidrosis. Local hyperhidrosis can be either palmar, axillary (over the armpits), or plantar (over the feet) hyperhidrosis.
The main long-term effects of excessive sweating tend to be psychological. These include embarrassment, anxiety, and distress. This can cause a huge change in daily life and may lead to feelings of adjustment issues and even depression. Quality of life might also be decreased due to the large amount of adaptation needed to manage hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis also tends to worsen due to stress, so in times of stress, it is typical to get several episodes of excessive sweating. However, everyone’s course of hyperhidrosis is different.
Excessive sweating is increased in some medical conditions. For example, due to increased sweat and skin irritation, patients might be more prone to having skin infections. They might also develop rashes such as eczema.
Sweating is a way for our bodies to cool themselves when temperatures get too warm. It is a protective mechanism for our bodies because we can lose heat as our sweat evaporates.
Sweating can happen when we are in a hot environment, when we exercise, or when we have a fever. Sweating may also happen for psychological reasons, such as stress and anxiety. Our brains are able to sense a change in our body temperature as well as a change in our emotions; once detected, nerve signals are sent from the brain, down to the sweat glands all over the body, which will then activate the sweat glands and tell them to produce sweat. In hyperhidrosis, some sweat glands may appear to be overactive and work overtime, producing more sweat than normal, and also in excessive amounts.
Primary hyperhidrosis is a disorder in which the exact cause is not known. It is a subset of hyperhidrosis and will result in the typical symptoms of hyperhidrosis, which include excessive sweating on the palms, soles of the feet, groin, in the axilla/armpits, and around other areas in our body where skin folds onto itself such as our elbows and under the breasts. There are, however, multiple risk factors for developing primary hyperhidrosis. These include stress (especially anxiety), heat, and spinal cord injuries.
Unlike primary hyperhidrosis, a cause may be found to have led to secondary hyperhidrosis. These include autonomic nerve dysfunction, infections, cancers, menopause, certain medications such as insulin and antidepressants (e.g. bupropion), and other diseases such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism.