What is excessive sweating?

Excessive sweating or ‘hyperhidrosis’ is a condition where someone loses an excessive amount of sweat which is beyond their body’s normal needs.

In other words, they have a higher than normal rate of perspiration which is far in excess of what is required to regulate the temperature of their body.

This is a common condition which affects nearly 2 million people in the UK and 2% of people around the world. It occurs in both men and women and at any stage in life.

Excessive sweating occurs in all temperatures even on a cool day or relaxing at home. Hot weather and/or exercise are known causes of sweating which is a natural function of the body but excessive sweating often occurs without any trigger.

Hyperhidrosis as a medical condition

If you are suffering from excessive sweating then you may be slightly reassured to know that it is a medical condition which requires due care and attention.

It is NOT a statement of poor personal hygiene or anything similar. This condition has causes and symptoms in the same way any other disease has and requires a suitable form of treatment. The causes of excessive sweating and the symptoms of excessive sweating are discussed in separate sections within this guide.

Excessive sweating at night

Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) occurs at any time and often for no apparent reason. It usually happens during the day but there are cases of people suffering from this condition at night time.

These ‘night sweats’are better known as ‘sleep hyperhidrosis’and are discussed in a separate section. If you find that you wake up in the night, drenched in sweat and unable to sleep then you may have sleep hyperhidrosis.

There are several types of excessive sweating but the most common is ‘primary focal hyperhidrosis’ which affects certain areas of the body such as face, hands or feet. This type of condition develops for no apparent reason and is often known as ‘idiopathic’ hyperhidrosis. Note: Idiopathic means a spontaneous condition or a disease which has developed for no obvious reason.

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