What a fit guy needs to know about hyperhidrosis, the excessive sweating disorder

How can you tell if you simply sweat more than the average gym-goer, or if you’ve got an actual condition?

Maybe this sounds familiar: When you spin, you consider the five-foot radius around you a splash zone. You leave a puddle on the bench when you chest press. Sweat pours off your face whenever you’re circuit training. You’re a supremely sweaty man.

But how can you tell if you simply sweat more than the average gym-goer, or if you’ve got an actual condition? Read these defining characteristics, courtesy of Valley Health System, and find out.

What is hyperhidrosis?

Unlike the normal sweating you experience mid-workout or during an un-air-conditioned car ride, hyperhidrosis is typified by sweating far more than what’s required for your body to regulate its own temperature, says Robert Korst, M.D., medical director of the Hyperhidrosis Center at Valley Hospital. Point is, it’s an involuntary action in your body, just like circulation.

sweaty girl

Most people dismiss the disorder—chalking it up to simply perspiring more than the average Joe—but about 7 million Americans suffer from hyperhidrosis.

What causes hyperhidrosis?

Researchers aren’t exactly sure why some people are susceptible to the condition. It could be genetic. One study, published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, found palmar hyperhidrosis—excessively sweaty palms, in other words—may be due to genetics, since most patients have a parent or sibling who also has hyperhidrosis. And there are certain stressors that can trigger a hyperhidrosis flare up, like stress, anxiety, certain foods and drinks, nicotine, and caffeine.

3 types of hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis can cause you to sweat everywhere or just in specific areas, like your hands, feet, armpits, and groin, because these body parts have the highest concentration of sweat glands. More specifically, there are three main types of the condition: primary focal hyperhidrosis, generalized idiopathic hyperhidrosis, and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.

Primary focal hyperhidrosis

Where you sweat: Specific areas, including your feet, hands, underarms, and face. The perspiration can be so severe, sweat can literally drip from your hands, feet, or armpits. If it impacts your face, you can experience sweating and a red blush, typically during a social interaction.

How it impacts you: The feeling of helplessness and embarrassment can spur anxiety and depression. Physically, primary hyperhidrosis can also cause skin infections because of the constant, incessant moisture. For instance, it can spur a foul-smelling condition called bromhidrosis in your armpit(s). 

What you can do: Medications and surgery are both options for primary focal hyperhidrosis.

Generalised idiopathic hyperhidrosis

​Where you sweat: Large areas of your body.

How it impacts you: Because of the constant sweating, you can devleop skin irritations.

What you can do: Medications are typically prescribed for people with generalized idiopathic hyperhidrosis.

Secondary generalised hyperhidrosis

Where you sweat: Total body or large areas due to another medical condition like diabetes, an overactive thyroid, or stroke. It’s noted that certain medications, exercise, and heat can trigger secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. And it can happen when you sleep. 

How it impacts you: See a dermatologist and/or specialist to see what’s triggering this form of hyperhidrosis, as it can come with many other side effects, depending on the underlying cause and condition.  

What you can do: See what your dermatologist recommends.  

If you think you’re suffering from a form of hyperhidrosis, make an appointment with your doctor to assess your symptoms and an appropriate treatment plan. 

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