If you experience hyperhidrosis, it’s important to remember you are not alone. It is difficult to say how many people have excessive sweating because many people never see a doctor – some are too embarrassed, while others do not realize that this is a treatable medical condition. Dermatologists estimate that 5% of people in the United States have excessive sweating.
Sweating helps the body stay cool, and in most cases is perfectly natural. People sweat more in warm temperatures, when they exercise, or in response to situations that make them nervous, angry, embarrassed, or afraid. Excessive sweating occurs without such triggers. People who have hyperhidrosis sweat when the body does not need cooling. The uncontrollable sweating can lead to significant discomfort, both physical and emotional.
Many people who have hyperhidrosis sweat from one or two areas of the body. Most often, they sweat from their underarms, palms, feet or head. While the rest of the body remains dry, one or two areas may drip with sweat.
This excessive sweating can interfere with everyday activities. Hands can be so sweaty that it becomes difficult to turn a door knob or use a computer. Sweat from the underarms often soaks through clothes, causing obvious sweat marks. Because the skin is often wet, skin infections can develop.
Hyperhidrosis is not a serious or life-threatening condition, although it often interferes with normal, daily activities and affects a person’s quality of life. Severe, chronic sweating may make the affected skin white, wrinkled, and cracked, often causing the area to become red and inflamed. Hyperhidrosis often requires medical care.
Some people are predisposed to or more likely to get hyperhidrosis. Researchers have learned that most people have one of the following:
This condition affects millions of people around the world (approximately 3 percent of the population). People of all races get hyperhidrosis, and the excessive sweating can begin at any age. For many people, it begins when they are a child or teen. Dermatologists believe that many more children and adolescents have this condition than are medically diagnosed, but because of lack of awareness and understanding that there are treatments for the condition, more than half of these people are never diagnosed or treated for their symptoms.