Scientist have not yet found exact cause of the excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) but it is believed to be related to genetic factors. It is known that excessive sweating occurs due to over activity in the sympathetic nervous system. Hand sweating or palmar hydrosis is caused by abnormal activity of sympathetic ganglia situated in the upper part of the chest cavity. Overactive sympathetic ganglia located in a section of the lumbar sympathetic chain causes sole sweating or plantar hyperhidrosis.
Types of Excessive SweatingExcessive sweating can be divided into two main types: generalized hyperhidrosis that affects the entire body and focal hyperhidrosis that affects specific areas of the body.
Generalized HyperhidrosisGeneralized hyperhydrosis is characterized by excessive sweating all over the body. Extremities, trunk and the face may be affected. Generalized hyperhydrosis is usually a sign of some underlying medical problem. The condition is in most cases associated with medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, febrile illness, cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia, thyroid problems, heat failure and other health problems. When the cause of excessive sweating cannot be identified hyperhidrosis is termed as idiopathic, which means unknown. Excessive sweating in the upper part of the body is often seen in elderly patients, particularly elderly women. This type of sweating can result from combination of several factors such as aging process, hormonal changes, weight gain and inactivity. However, the cause of such sweating is not known thereby it is hard to provide an adequate treatment.
Focal HyperhydrosisThis type of excessive sweating affects specific parts of the body. Those are most commonly the hands, feet and armpits. The head, face and groins may also be affected. The cause of focal hyperhidrosis is usually hereditary. Excessive hand sweating was once believed to be caused by over active thyroid gland but it is now known that it results from over active sympathetic nervous system. Focal hyperhidrosis is not related to illness or use of certain drugs. Hand and feet hyperhydrosis usually starts in childhood while underarm hyperhydrosis commonly begins with puberty. When hyperhydrosis develops, an affected person sweats all the time regardless of the weather, physical activity and emotions.
Treatment of Excessive Sweating
Before choosing an appropriate treatment, a doctor must identify the cause and triggers for excessive sweating. Usually, the treatment includes over the counter antiperspirants, particularly those containing aluminum chloride and prescription-strength antiperspirants that contain aluminum chloride hexahydrate. Oral medications can also help to reduce sweating. Iontophoresis involves use of low-level electricity to disable the sweat glands. Injections of Botox can be used for underarm hyperhydrosis. Surgical treatment is also an option and the procedure is known as endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS).