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The main symptom of hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. People with hyperhidrosis experience sweating in different parts of the body and at different times. Sweating can also cause skin infections and psychological symptoms.
Treatments can effectively manage hyperhidrosis symptoms in some people.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis. In primary focal hyperhidrosis, there is no underlying cause for the condition. In secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, sweating is caused by another health condition or a medication. People with each type tend to sweat in different ways.
Read more about causes of hyperhidrosis.
Everyone sweats when they feel hot, anxious, or stressed out. People with hyperhidrosis can drip with sweat even when they are calm, even when the temperature is comfortable or too cold. Heat, exercise, or emotional stress can worsen hyperhidrosis symptoms, making those who have the condition sweat even more than usual.
People with hyperhidrosis can sweat anywhere on their bodies, but those with primary focal hyperhidrosis are mostly likely to sweat from smaller, focused areas such as the underarms, hands and feet, or head and face, or some combination of these parts. In primary focal hyperhidrosis, sweating is usually symmetrical – both hands, both feet, or both underarms will sweat. People with secondary generalized hyperhidrosis tend to sweat in larger areas of the skin, such as the back, one side of the body, or the entire body. Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is more likely to cause sweating during sleep.
As a result of having skin that is wet too much of the time, people with hyperhidrosis may develop symptoms such as:
Sweating can also cause slippery, clammy hands and feet. Some people with hyperhidrosis have difficulty gripping small objects due to wet, slippery hands.
People with hyperhidrosis often report feeling depressed, anxious, and embarrassed due to their condition. Excess sweating causes stained clothing, wet hair, and awkwardness shaking hands. Those with hyperhidrosis may avoid socializing or working in positions that involve meeting people due to embarrassment. Since hyperhidrosis is a rare condition that is poorly understood, it can be hard for those who have it to talk about it and find support.
Insomnia is also common in people with hyperhidrosis, especially those who sweat more at night.
Some people with primary focal hyperhidrosis notice excessive sweating during childhood.
What symptoms lead to a diagnosis of hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is diagnosed based partly on the amount and pattern of sweating. The dermatologist may also perform a physical exam, take patient and family medical history, and order blood or urine tests to check for underlying conditions. Read more about how hyperhidrosis is diagnosed.
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