Hyperhidrosis :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Hyperhidrosis

Sweating (or perspiration) is a normal body function that helps to maintain the body temperature and prevent overheating. An increased, unusual amount of sweating is called hyperhidrosis (hie purr hie DROH sis). This is common, but can be embarrassing and frustrating.

There are three types of hyperhidrosis:

  • Primary focal: Only certain areas of the body sweat more than others. This type happens while the person is awake. It takes place on both sides of the body equally (that is, on both hands, underarms or feet).
  • Generalized idiopathic: Large areas of the body sweat.
  • Secondary generalized: Large areas of the body sweat. This can occur at night. This is caused by medicines or other problems such as diabetes or overactive thyroid.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Hyperhidrosis is diagnosed by your child’s doctor during an exam. Special tests are not usually needed to make the diagnosis. There are several treatment options. Most patients respond well to treatment, although sometimes it is more resistant and harder to treat.

Your child’s primary care doctor or dermatologist can help your child deal with this condition. Treatment options include:

  • Antiperspirants: These come in non-prescription and prescription-strength sprays, roll-ons or lotions. They are the most common treatment. The main ingredient (aluminum chloride hexahydrate) works to lessen sweating. They are applied at bedtime on dry skin and washed off in the morning. Antiperspirants are usually the first line of treatment for most people with hyperhidrosis.
  • Oral (taken by mouth) medicines: Used to prevent sweat gland stimulation.
  • Botulin toxin: Given as series of injections (shots) in the areas of increased sweating. This may be all that is needed for some patients with primary focal hyperhidrosis.
  • Iontophoresis: A small (low voltage) electrical current that is sent through water to the hands or feet. Several treatments are needed.
  • Surgery: The removal of sweat glands or the clipping of some of the nerves responsible for sweating. Surgery is not a first treatment to try, but may be considered for a very select group of patients. There is a risk that the body will try to make up for the surgery by sweating even more than before.

Hyperhidrosis (PDF)

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