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Hyperhidrosis – The Path to Diagnosis

Updated on February 02, 2020
Article written by
Kelly Crumrin

How Is Hyperhidrosis Diagnosed?

Many primary care physicians are unfamiliar with hyperhidrosis. Some people who experience excessive sweating have their symptoms dismissed by their family doctor. Others with hyperhidrosis are too embarrassed to seek diagnosis. Getting diagnosed gives people with hyperhidrosis access to prescription treatments that may be effective in reducing sweating.

Hyperhidrosis is commonly diagnosed by a dermatologist.

Tests and What They Show

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. Some tests can provide support for a diagnosis of primary hyperhidrosis, while others are performed to rule out underlying conditions that could be causing secondary hyperhidrosis. Read more about the symptoms of hyperhidrosis.

Medical History

The doctor will take a thorough history, asking about symptoms over time, family medical history, and other conditions or medications. A clear picture may emerge from the medical history that will help a doctor assess risk factors that may strengthen the suspicion of primary or secondary hyperhidrosis.

Physical Exam

The doctor will carefully examine your skin for symptoms and changes associated with hyperhidrosis.

Thermoregulatory Sweat Test (TST)

For a sweat test, your skin will be covered in a special powder that turns dark where you sweat. The room may then be heated to provoke sweating. The doctor will evaluate the pattern of dark spots formed by sweating. Where you sweat and whether the sweaty spots are symmetrical help the dermatologist better understand what is causing your hyperhidrosis.

Blood or Urine Tests

The doctor may order laboratory tests of blood or urine samples. Lab tests can help rule out underlying causes such as thyroid gland dysfunction or high blood glucose.

What Is the Prognosis for Hyperhidrosis?

There is no cure for hyperhidrosis, but it can be effectively treated in many people.

Condition Guide

Resources

External resources

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Kelly Crumrin is a senior editor at MyHealthTeam and leads the creation of content that educates and empowers people with chronic illnesses. Learn more about her here.

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