Sweat glands cause perspiration whenever there is an increase in temperature, fever, or when you are involved in physical activity. Perspiration is also seen when one is nervous, anxious, or under stress. When none of these factors are present, the signals for the production of sweating are normally inhibited.
is a condition that increases the production of sweat to such an extent that hands are continuously wet, and in some cases, sweat drips from the fingers. All of this happens when none of the external conditions favor excessive perspiration. Excessive sweating can happen when a person is relatively inactive, like watching television or when the person is in an air conditioned room. Some people have reported that they sweat while they are in a swimming pool.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis:
- Primary hyperhidrosis or focal hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating in the hands, underarms, face, and feet
- Secondary hyperhidrosis or generalized hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating is seen all over the body, and is usually caused by an underlying medical condition
Primary hyperhidrosis is mostly caused by overactive eccrine sweat glands, one of the most common types of sweat glands in the body. These types of sweat glands are seen in the feet, palms, face, and armpits. Increased activity of the sweat glands is triggered by overactive nerves that stimulate these glands. Increase in temperature, emotional disturbances, physical activity, or hormones, may cause the nerves to overreact, resulting in hyperhidrosis.
The actual cause of primary hyperhidrosis is not known. Some researchers point to the involvement of heredity in the development of this condition. In some cases, hyperhidrosis is seen since childhood.
Some of the common treatment options for people with primary hyperhidrosis include:
- Antiperspirants containing aluminum, which can be over-the-counter or prescription-based
- Anticholinergics that may prevent the stimulation of the sweat glands by nerves
- Iontophoresis, a low-intensity electrical current application to control sweating
- Botox injections to control underarm sweating
If sweating is excessive in the underarms and arms, surgery may be opted to remove the sweat glands from the area.
Secondary hyperhidrosis causes sweating all over the body instead of in specific areas. It can also cause sweating during sleep. This condition always results from an underlying medical condition.
Some of the conditions that can lead to secondary hyperhidrosis include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Appropriate treatment to control the underlying conditions can regulate excessive sweating due to secondary hyperhidrosis.