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Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is when you sweat far more than normal. If you think you could have hyperhidrosis, talk to your doctor, as there are things you can do to help.

Hyperhidrosis is when you sweat far more than normal. If you think you could have hyperhidrosis, talk to your doctor, as there are things you can do to help.

What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating during the day. Some sweating is normal – it’s your body's way of cooling itself. But if you think you sweat more than you need to or are embarrassed by how much you sweat, you could have hyperhidrosis. 

Hyperhidrosis can either affect your whole body (called generalised hyperhidrosis), or just part of your body (focal hyperhidrosis) – usually the armpits, palms and soles, but sometimes the face and scalp.

Causes of hyperhidrosis

Often there is no good reason for someone to sweat too much. It just happens. This is called primary hyperhidrosis.

Some people find they sweat too much because of:

People with another condition that causes sweating have secondary hyperhidrosis.

People with focal hyperhidrosis often find it runs in their family.

Symptoms and diagnosis of hyperhidrosis

Sweating too much can be embarrassing. It might make it hard for you to do simple things like writing or using a computer. Although hyperhidrosis isn’t dangerous, it can cause skin conditions like tinea and eczema.

To diagnose hyperhidrosis, a doctor will probably ask you about your health and examine you if the cause of the sweating is not clear, you might be asked to have blood tests to check for any underlying problems.

Treatment and prevention of hyperhidrosis

There are a few things you can do. You can:

  • wear clothes made of natural materials
  • avoid things that trigger or worsen your sweating, such as certain foods
  • wear different shoes (not just one pair), or no shoes when possible
  • shower or bathe regularly
  • remove hairs around the sweaty area. 

If you have generalised hyperhidrosis, treating any condition that causes it might help

If you have focal hyperhidrosis, treatments that might help include:

  • putting aluminium-based chemicals on the skin each day
  • using a special low-voltage electrical machine to drive medication into the sweat glands – this is done once a week
  • injecting botox into the affected area – Medicare subsidises the cost in some cases
  • taking medications called anticholinergics each day.

In severe cases, surgery may be used to remove the sweat glands or as a last resort to sever the nerves that supply the sweat glands. This is a last resort and is very expensive. 

Last reviewed: February 2016

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