Sweating is an essential bodily function that helps keep us cool and our muscles working.
However, when sweating becomes excessive, it can cause several problems.
Excessive sweating can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and overall body odor.
In some cases, excessive sweating may signify an underlying medical condition.
If you are experiencing excessive sweating, consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
What is Excessive Sweating/Hyperhidrosis?
Excessive sweating is a common problem that affects many people.
It is caused by an overactive sweat gland, which produces too much sweat.
Excessive sweating can also be a sign of a health problem and can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.
There are ways to treat excessive sweating, and it is usually manageable.
Types of Hyperhidrosis
There are three main types of hyperhidrosis: primary, secondary, and generalized.
Primary hyperhidrosis is caused by a genetic disorder, while secondary and generalized hyperhidrosis are caused by various factors, including anxiety, stress, nervousness, and medical conditions.
Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes or medications.
This type of sweating occurs in specific areas of the body (known as focal areas).
The most common focal areas include hands, feet, underarms, face, and head.
In contrast to primary hyperhidrosis, sweating doesn’t occur in “focal” areas.
It is a result of a medical condition or a medication.
Some medical conditions that cause excessive sweating are:
- Heart attack
Excessive sweating is also seen as a side effect of certain medications.
Some of them include:
- Diabetes drugs
- Glaucoma drugs
- Alzheimer's drugs
What Causes Excessive Sweating?
There are many potential causes of excessive sweating.
Some of the more common ones include anxiety, overactive thyroid gland, pregnancy, and exercise.
However, there is no one definitive cause for excessive sweating.
Various factors contribute to it, including genetics and hormones.
Genetics and Excessive Sweating
There is no one answer as to why someone might sweat excessively, but genetics may play a role.
Some people are born with genes that make them more likely to sweat, and others may be more sensitive to the effects of heat on their bodies.
People who are genetically predisposed to excessive sweating may need to take measures to keep cool.
PPC1B Gene and Excessive Sweating
The PPC1B gene contains instructions for producing an enzyme called serine/threonine-protein phosphatase PP1-beta catalytic subunit.
It is involved in many cellular processes like:
- Cell division
- Glycogen metabolism
- Protein synthesis
- Muscle contraction
Studies have revealed that the PPC1B gene is involved in a chemical reaction (called phosphorylation) of a water-specific channel, regulating its ability to maintain water flow.
So, the amount of PPC1B enzyme present could modulate sweat production.
Some people with certain changes in the PPC1B gene have altered enzyme activity and are more likely to sweat excessively.
PLB1 Gene and Excessive Sweating
The PLB1 gene contains instructions for the production of a membrane-associated phospholipase.
This enzyme is involved in the breakdown of lipids.
The PLB1 gene promotes the skin barrier function by the breakdown of lipids into free fatty acids.
It is also known to play a role in semen excretion.
So, researchers postulate that it can also modulate other secretory processes like sweating.
Another missense variant in the ABCC11 gene has been associated with hyperhidrosis for the first time in this study.
Previously, the same variant has been associated with dry versus wet earwax types and axillary osmidrosis - body odor.
Is Your Excessive Sweating Due to a Medical Condition?
If you are sweating more than you usually do, it may indicate an underlying health condition.
Sweating can also be a sign of anxiety or stress.
It can result from a physical illness, such as hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer.
In some cases, excessive sweating may signify a mental health condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
When to See a Doctor?
- A sudden increase in sweating
- Increased sweating in one side of the body
- Night sweats
- Sweating all over the body
How’s Hyperhydrosis/Excessive Sweating Diagnosed?
Many people with hyperhidrosis may experience symptoms that overlap with other conditions, such as anxiety, stress, and depression.
A doctor may need to perform a comprehensive physical exam and ask questions about your lifestyle and symptoms to identify hyperhidrosis.
Many treatment options are available, including medications, sweat-releasing clothing, and surgery.
Two commonly used tests to diagnose excessive sweating
- Starch iodine test: When applied over the body, starch turns brown whenever it interacts with sweat. This could indicate the amount of sweating.
- Vapometer: It is a device used to measure the amount of water that passively evaporates from the skin.
How’s Excessive Sweating Treated?
There are a variety of methods used to treat excessive sweating.
The most common treatments are antiperspirants, medications, surgery, and botulinum toxin injections (BOTOX).
- Antiperspirants are the primary treatment for excessive sweating.
They work by blocking the sweat glands and preventing the release of sweat.
There are a variety of antiperspirants available, and stronger ones can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor.
- Medications can also help treat excessive sweating.
Some medications work by curbing sweat production, while others work by cooling the body.
Medications can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over-the-counter.
Please note that it is important to consult your medical practitioner before starting any medications.
- Botox injections are injected in small quantities into multiple areas on the underarm.
This is an FDA-approved treatment.
Studies also suggest that it can be used on other body parts too.
- Surgery is another option for treating excessive sweating.
Surgery is usually reserved for people who have not had success with other treatments.
The following surgeries can stop excessive sweating:
- Surgically remove sweat glands
- Sympathectomy - cutting or clamping of sympathetic nerve chain that runs up and down along your spine
Home Remedies for Excessive Sweating
- Apple cider vinegar is a natural antiperspirant.
It helps balance the pH levels in your sweat glands and prevents them from over-producing sweat.
- Salt scrubbing is another great way to reduce sweating.
The salt helps to draw out toxins and moisture from the skin.
- A healthy diet can also help reduce sweating.
Water-dense fruits and vegetables (grapes, melons, oranges, eggplants, spinach, celery), foods rich in B-vitamins (pork, poultry, bananas, soya beans, peanuts), calcium (milk, kale, fortified soy products and cereals), and fiber (beans, whole grains, avocados, berries, broccoli), and green tea can help manage excessive sweating.
Other remedies include:
- Drinking lots of fluids.
- Taking cooling baths or showers.
- Using a humidifier.
- Wearing loose clothing.
- Using air-conditioners.
- Using cool sheets.
- Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is a condition caused due to a multitude of factors like stress, anxiety, health issues, and certain medications.
- Primary hyperhidrosis occurs in specific focal areas of the body, while secondary hyperhidrosis can occur all over the body and is caused due to certain medical conditions or medications.
- Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, and obesity are some health conditions that contribute to excessive sweating.
- Certain genes that control water movement inside the body and bodily secretions influence the risk of excessive sweating.
- Hyperhidrosis is diagnosed with a physical examination and certain tests like starch iodine and vapometer tests.
- Treatment options for excessive sweating include antiperspirants, medications, botox injections, and surgery.
- Certain dietary changes, topical application of apple cider vinegar and salt scrub, and wearing loose clothing can help curb sweating.