What is hyperhidrosis?

There are two types of hyperhidrosis. The majority of patients suffer from Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis.

Primary hyperhidrosis has no known cause. There are no underlying medical problems and it is not a side effect of medications. It affects particular parts of the body most commonly the hands, feet underarms or the face/head and usually affects both sides. It sometimes can affect the chest or groin areas too. Many patients have more than one part of the body affected. It usually begins in childhood or adolescence and sometimes runs in families. Patients with primary hyperhidrosis rarely sweat when they are asleep.

If you:

  • Sweat from particular parts of the body on both sides
  • Sweat at least once a week
  • Began sweating as a child or during adolescence
  • Find sweating impairs your daily activities
  • Don’t sweat at night

…then you probably have primary hyperhidrosis.

Most of the information on this site deals with primary hyperhidrosis.

You might find more information on hyperhidrosis on the FAQ pages.

Secondary hyperhidrosis

If your sweating began well after your teenage years then it is more likely you have secondary hyperhidrosis.  Secondary generalised hyperhidrosis is caused by an underlying medical condition or is a side effect of medication. In other words, it is secondary to something else. Sweating occurs over a larger part of the body and often when patients are sleeping. If you think that this could apply to you, it is worth looking at the links to the medical conditions and medications before discussing your condition with your GP. Do NOT stop taking any medication before discussing with your doctor.

If there is no obvious cause of your sweating many of the commonly known conditions that can lead to secondary hyperhidrosis can be identified by some simple routine blood tests to check your full blood count, sugar levels and your liver, kidney and thyroid functions.

A common cause of sweating in women over the age of 45 is the menopause. You can find more information on this page.

Night sweats are not a feature of primary hyperhidrosis and are often associated with the menopause in women but there are number of other conditions that can cause night sweats that are discussed on these pages by Healthline.

Much rarer, it is possible to experience a secondary focal hyperhidrosis localised to a specific area. Some examples are gustatory sweating in diabetes or after salivary gland removal, after spinal trauma, occurring around colostomy or ileostomy sites and perhaps more commonly amputation stumps under prostheses.

Your symptoms of hyperhidrosis might be due to the tablets you are taking.