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Causes of Excessive Sweating


Doctors aren't sure why people have primary hyperhidrosis, although it may be hereditary. Many people tell their doctors they’ve experienced excessive sweating since they were a child.

People with primary hyperhidrosis may be able to cope with non-surgical treatments, including:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription-strength antiperspirants that contain aluminum
  • Medications called anticholinergics that affect the nerve signals to sweat glands
  • A low-intensity electrical current treatment called iontophoresis
  • Botox injections for underarm sweating

Surgery is usually only considered as a last resort for people with severe sweating in their hands and underarms. Surgery may involve removing sweat glands from the area. During another procedure, called thoracic sympathectomy, a surgeon cuts and destroys the nerves responsible for sweating.

One common side effect is excessive sweating in other parts of the body, such as the chest, back, or legs. Other possible risks include bleeding into the chest and nerve problems.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis Causes

Sweating from secondary hyperhidrosis is different from primary hyperhidrosis in that it tends to happen all over or in one general area instead of on the hands, underarms, face, or feet. Unlike primary hyperhidrosis, this type is more likely to cause sweating during sleep.

And in this case, there is something that’s causing hyperhidrosis: a medical condition or a medication.

A number of medical conditions have the potential to cause hyperhidrosis. Some of them include:

Uncovering the underlying condition and getting the proper treatment for it will help decrease the sweating of secondary hyperhidrosis. That’s why it’s best to tell your doctor when you’re having a problem with sweating, so that you can uncover the reasons behind it and get it treated.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 01, 2015



John E. Langenfeld, MD, thoracic surgeon at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital: “Hyperhidrosis Center.”

University of Maryland Medical Center: “Hyperhidrosis.”

Whitney Burrows, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

International Hyperhidrosis Society: “About Hyperhidrosis.”

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