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Sweat No More: Understanding the Two Types of Hyperhidrosis

Your Comprehensive Guide to Effective Solutions for Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating—or hyperhidrosis—is far more common than we think. Yet, many people are still too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about this skin condition. It occurs when the nerves that stimulate your sweat glands to perspire become overactive, causing you to sweat even when your body may not need to regulate its temperature. By understanding the type of hyperhidrosis, you may have, you and your skincare specialist can identify potential underlying causes and create an effective treatment plan that may help alleviate some of its uncomfortable symptoms.

Primary Hyperhidrosis vs. Secondary Hyperhidrosis

Primary Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes an individual to experience excessive sweating without an underlying cause. It’s considerably the more common of the two types of hyperhidrosis. While the cause of primary hyperhidrosis is unknown, evidence shows that it may be hereditary, as it typically begins in childhood or after puberty. Certain triggers, like stress and anxiety, may also encourage primary hyperhidrosis symptoms. Primary Hyperhidrosis can occur anywhere on your body, but it typically occurs in more localized areas.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis is a condition where excessive sweating is the result of an underlying medical condition or a side effect of a certain medication or supplement. Therefore, secondary hyperhidrosis is most often seen in adults. Some of the following medical conditions or diseases may cause secondary hyperhidrosis, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, infections, cancer, and hormone imbalances. Secondary Hyperhidrosis usually occurs in various areas and often on a larger scale. When secondary hyperhidrosis is not localized to certain areas, it may be referred to as secondary generalized hyperhidrosis or generalized hyperhidrosis. It’s important to note that secondary hyperhidrosis “can” be localized to certain areas (i.e. secondary focal hyperhidrosis) due to a neurologic injury or dermatologic syndrome, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society. 

Key Features of Hyperhidrosis

Primary Hyperhidrosis: Characterized by excessive sweating in localized areas, such as the palms, soles, underarms, head/scalp, under breasts, and groin, without an apparent underlying cause.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Results from an identifiable medical condition, medications, or other factors, leading to generalized or focal sweating.

Causes and Triggers of Hyperhidrosis

Primary Hyperhidrosis: The exact cause remains unclear, but it often involves overactive sweat glands and may have a genetic component.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Various factors, including medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, hyperthyroidism), medications, menopause, or obesity, can contribute to excessive sweating.

How to Treat Hyperhidrosis

Primary Hyperhidrosis: Treatment options range from antiperspirants and medications to more advanced interventions like Botox injections or surgical procedures for severe cases.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis: Addressing the underlying medical condition, adjusting medications, or employing antiperspirants and lifestyle changes are crucial aspects of managing secondary hyperhidrosis.

How Do Hyperhidrosis Treatments Work?

Primary hyperhidrosis has several different treatment options available, some of which you can try at home and others that may require a consultation with a dermatology provider.

Some of the highly effective focal hyperhidrosis treatments include:

  • Antiperspirants—the aluminum salts in over-the-counter or prescription-level antiperspirants are designed to block sweat glands from perspiring.
  • Botox Injections—these injections temporarily stop the nerves from signaling your sweat glands to perspire.
  • Anticholinergics (or other oral or topical medications)—your doctor can prescribe a topical or oral medication that essentially deactivates your sweat glands.
  • miraDry—this safe, FDA-approved treatment eliminates sweat and odor glands in the armpit area—using non-invasive electromagnetic energy—and is highly effective with permanent results.

Secondary hyperhidrosis may also be treated, but because it is a secondary condition, it’s important to work with your skincare team to determine what the underlying cause(s) of your excessive sweat may be. Consult with an expert about your family history, medical conditions, and your current prescriptions, medicines, and supplements to begin identifying the underlying cause of your secondary hyperhidrosis. After identifying the cause, your dermatology provider may also suggest one of the above focal hyperhidrosis treatments to address excessive-sweating symptoms.

Excessive sweating can be frustrating and embarrassing, but there are ways to alleviate your sweaty symptoms. If antiperspirants and at-home treatments aren’t cutting it and your sweating is affecting your social life, work performance, or self-esteem, it may be time for an effective dermatological solution.

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Get Relief from Hyperhidrosis

Addressing hyperhidrosis is crucial for improving the quality of life for individuals dealing with excessive sweating. Whether it's primary or secondary hyperhidrosis, seeking professional help and exploring various treatment options can make a significant difference. Take the first step toward relief from hyperhidrosis by consulting with a dermatology provider. Don't let excessive sweating impact your daily life – explore effective treatments and regain confidence. Schedule an appointment today to discover personalized solutions for managing hyperhidrosis and enjoying a more comfortable life.

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