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Q: Is there anything that can be done to reduce excessive sweating?

Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, can run in the family. This is a common disorder affecting two to three % of the US population. Excessive sweating can happen in different areas of the body, like the underarms, palms, and soles of the feet. Primary hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating that is not caused by another medical condition (or medication) and the excessive sweating is the medical condition itself. It may be present from birth, but most cases tend to start during adolescence. Secondary, or "generalized" hyperhidrosis, is caused by another medical condition or medication. It is important to distinguish one from the other. Excessive sweating is not only annoying, but it can truly be debilitating. Severe cases can have serious practical consequences, making it hard for people who suffer from it to take notes in school, hold hands, grip the steering wheel or rails, workout, or shake hands. It can affect performance and training in athletics and in the arts. Those with excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis sweat nearly all the time or at random times. Social consequences are varied and severe, with some sufferers retreating from social functions or hiding out from opportunities that can affect their careers and livelihood.

Natural herbal remedies have been suggested to treat excessive sweating as well as therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis, gluten-free diet, and relaxation techniques. There is little data or research behind these treatments, but this doesn't discount their potential. There have been several studies to recommend using antiperspirants, iontophoresis, oral medications, botox injections, microwave energy, lasers, and minimally invasive surgery.

Treating hyperhidrosis should be taken with an individualized approach, as there is not one treatment that works for everyone. Through a careful evaluation of causes and triggers of hyperhidrosis, followed by a collaborative and systematic approach to treatment, many people with this debilitating disorder can achieve good results and improve their quality of life. Contact a doctor for help with excessive sweating—it's not just you, you're not just imagining it, and no, you're not just making a big deal out of it. It is a big deal and it can affect all areas of your life.

Stephanie Rose B. Yan, MD

General Surgery

The Island Family Surgical Care
411 Huku Lii Pl, Ste 304
Kihei, HI 96753