Sweating is your body’s normal mechanism to cool itself, but some people produce more sweat than is needed for cooling – called hyperhidrosis. This condition affects about 2 to 3 per cent of the population.
In most cases the cause of the excessive sweating is not known, so-called primary hyperhidrosis. It often starts in childhood or adolescence and tends to affect the armpits (axillae), palms and soles.
Stress and anxiety can make the sweating worse, and although the condition occurs in both warm and cool climates, it is usually worse at higher temperatures. Many people with primary hyperhidrosis have a family history of the condition.
Excessive sweating can be socially embarrassing. It may stain the clothing. Hyperhidrosis of the soles may not only result in smelly feet, but may also damage footwear. People with hyperhidrosis of the palms are often embarrassed by a cold, wet handshake. They may have trouble using keypads and other electronic equipment.
Excessive sweating can be treated with lifestyle remedies, topical antiperspirants containing aluminium salts and oral medications prescribed to reduce sweating. Occasionally injectable agents are indicated for severe, underarm sweating.
Associate Professor Lynette KiersNeurologist and Clinical Neurophysiologist
MBBS(Hons), FRACP, American Board of Electrodiagnostic medicine
Lynette Kiers is a consultant neurologist and the Director of Clinical Neurophysiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. After completing her medical degree and neurology training at the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, Lyn embarked upon postgraduate training and research in neurophysiology at the Mayo Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital, USA. Lyn is one of two neurologists managing the bolinum toxin clinic at RMH for the treatment of neurologic disorders. In addition to expertise in clinical neurophysiology for diagnosis of peripheral nerve pathology, she has over 10 years’ experience with botulinum toxin injections for a range of neurologic diseases including hemifacial spasm, blepharospasm, cervical dystonia, dystonic tremor, spasticity, axillary hyperhydrosis and chronic migraine. Lyn consults at Brighton Spine and Sports Clinic on a Wednesday afternoon. Treatment for the above conditions is funded under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme for patients meeting specific criteria.