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Excessive Sweating

What is excessive sweating?

Normal sweating helps to keep the body temperature steady in hot weather, during a fever, or when exercising.  Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) means that you sweat more than normal. Even when you are not hot, anxious, or exercising, you make a lot of extra sweat.

Primary (idiopathic) focal hyperhidrosis

This means that excessive sweating occurs in one or more of the following focal places: palms of the hands, soles of the feet, armpits (axillae) or face/scalp.

We sweat normally on the rest of the body. It tends to be symmetrical - that is, both palms, both feet, both armpits, are affected. The exact cause is not known and it is not associated with any other conditions. (The word idiopathic means of unknown cause.) It just seems that the sweat glands in these areas are overactive or more sensitive than normal. There may be some genetic factor involved as a cause. This condition usually first develops under the age of 25, but it can develop at any age. Men and women are equally affected. It is common and affects about 3 in 100 people.

The severity can vary from time to time. It may come and go and can be made worse by triggers such as anxiety, emotion, spicy foods, and heat. Anxiety about the sweating itself often makes it worse. However this sweat should not be confused with body odour as it does not smell. For most of the time nothing obvious triggers the sweating. It tends to be a long-term condition, but symptoms can improve in some cases over time.