Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating for an estimated 2-3 percent of Americans. This condition, caused by an overactive sympathetic nerve, creates excessive sweating in your underarms, in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet (also called palmoplantar hyperhidrosis).
For individuals with hyperhidrosis symptoms, sweating is usually not directly related to temperature or exercise and can disrupt normal daily activities.
To test for hyperhidrosis, your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. In addition, lab tests or sweat tests may be ordered to evaluate the cause and severity of your condition. In some cases, excessive sweating can be caused by other medical conditions. The exam and tests can help identify any underlying health issues.
If sweating is disrupting daily activities or causing social anxiety or embarrassment, it is recommended that you see a doctor who can test for hyperhidrosis.
Following testing and diagnosis of hyperhidrosis, your physician will work with you to find an effective treatment. Fortunately, for those affected by hyperhidrosis, our team of physicians has access to the full scope of treatment options, which often follows a step-by-step process to find the treatment that works for you. Treatments include:
- Prescription-strength antiperspirants. Prescription-strength antiperspirants often contain aluminum chloride hexahydrate and are more effective at controlling sweat than over-the-counter deodorant or antiperspirant.
- Prescription cloths. When wiped once under the arm, the solution enters the affected area to inhibit neurotransmitters on the sweat glands, reducing the amount of sweat produced.
- Prescription medications. Oral medications block the chemicals that permit certain nerves to communicate with the sweat glands and reduce sweating for some people.
- Botox. Botox is an FDA-approved treatment for excessive underarm sweating. During treatment, we inject a small amount of Botox in multiple spots in each armpit to temporarily block the nerves that cause sweating.
- Microwave therapy. This noninvasive treatment uses targeted microwave energy to destroy sweat glands.
- Bilateral thoracoscopic sympathectomy. This minimally invasive surgery is most often used after we attempt all other treatment options. During the procedure, a thoracic surgeon makes two dime-sized incisions in each armpit. Through these incisions, a piece of the nerve that controls the sweat glands is removed. Given the minimally invasive nature of the surgery, most patients go home the same day and recovery takes about a week. Like any surgery, there are potentials risks and complications. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you and determine if you’re a candidate for the procedure. Read how this procedure helped one patient put hyperhidrosis behind her.
Multidisciplinary Team Approach
Providers from multiple specialties deliver care to patients with hyperhidrosis, including dermatologists, neurologists and thoracic surgeons. Working together, we’ll examine the reasons for your excessive sweating and find a specialist who is right for you.