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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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Is Your Excessive Sweating Caused by a Medical Problem?

Sweating may be a symptom of thyroid problems, diabetes, or infection.

Excessive Sweating: Signs You Should See the Doctor continued...

Night sweats: if you're waking up in a cold sweat or you find your pillowcase and sheets are damp in the morning.

Generalized sweating: if you're sweating all over your body, and not just from your head, face, underarms, groin, hands, or feet.

Asymmetrical sweating: if you notice that you're only sweating from one side of your body, like one armpit.

Sudden changes: if your sweating has suddenly gotten worse.

Late onset: if you develop excessive sweating when you're middle-aged or older. The more common primary focal hyperhidrosis usually starts in teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms after medication changes: if an outbreak of excessive sweating started up after you began a new drug.

Sweating accompanied by other symptoms, like fatigue, insomnia, increased thirst, increased urination, or cough.

Even if you don't have those symptoms, if excessive sweating is bothering you or interfering with your life, talk to your doctor. Remember to bring along a list of all the drugs you take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Your doctor may want to check your medications and run some tests.

Treating Excessive Sweating

While there is no cure for primary focal hyperhidrosis, there are ways to help control the symptoms. They include:

  • Antiperspirants. Special over-the-counter or prescription sprays, lotions, and roll-ons can help control symptoms.
  • Iontophoresis. This treatment uses low-level electrical impulses to temporarily disable the sweat glands.
  • Medications. Some drugs can stop the sweat glands from kicking into action.
  • Botox. Injections of Botox can temporarily stop the nerves from triggering excessive sweating. It is approved for treatment of excessive underarm sweating.
  • Surgery. One approach is to cut a nerve in the chest that triggers excessive sweating. Another is to surgically remove some of the sweat glands.

Secondary hyperhidrosis can often be treated too, although the right approach depends on the condition causing it.

For instance, hyperhidrosis caused by an overactive thyroid may be resolved by treating the thyroid with medication or surgery. Excessive sweating caused by diabetes may disappear once glucose levels are under control. If a medication is causing your excessive sweating, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different drug.

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