Hyperhidrosis is a sweating disorder characterized by sweating that is in excess of what is needed by the body. The reason that humans sweat is to maintain homeostasis of thermoregulation, or to regulate their body temperature. When someone sweats, it releases heat and cools down their core body temperature. People with hyperhidrosis sweat excessively, even when there is no physiological need to. This may sound like an uncommon condition, but it is actually quite prevalent.
It is estimated that approximately 2.8% of the United States population has a form of hyperhidrosis. This number was reached after a survey inquiring about excessive sweating was sent to 150,000 people who live in the US. Other studies have found that up to 5% of the US population have hyperhidrosis, but it is impossible to know the exact number. This is because hyperhidrosis isn’t well known by many doctors, and it is thought that because hyperhidrosis can be an embarrassing condition, it is often underreported. Of those who have hyperhidrosis, it is thought that about 93% have primary focal hyperhidrosis. This is a version of the disease that typically develops during adolescents and affects a person throughout their lifetime. Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis is the second most common type of the disease. It begins suddenly in adulthood, and this type of hyperhidrosis is usually caused by a medication, or a physiological condition or disease. There are other forms of hyperhidrosis, like Hexsel’s hyperhidrosis, Gustatory sweating, localized unilateral hyperhidrosis, and a few others, but they are much more rare.
Both sexes are affected by hyperhidrosis, but it may affect men more prevalently and with more intensity. For example, a study of in Japan found that 16.66% of men had hyperhidrosis while only 10.66% of females had it. A contradictory study in Canada found that women were more likely to report severe hyperhidrosis symptoms, so more studies need to be done in order to know for sure. Men are more likely to have craniofacial sweating and sweating in other areas while women are more likely to have axillary sweating.
People who have primary focal hyperhidrosis most often experience sweating of the face, armpits, hands, and feet. Other locations can be affected, but less commonly so. Roughly 29% of people had an isolated axillary distribution of sweating (affecting the armpits only), while 25% had a pattern of sweating that only affected the hands and the feet. Other patterns of sweating occur, but with less frequency. Only 1.3% of cases involved excessive groin sweating. When a person develops the condition especially early, before puberty, 88.9% of the time it involves palmar or plantar sweating.
It is evident that hyperhidrosis is a common disorder and that it affects people around the World. There are other conditions that cause sweating issues, but they tend to be less common than hyperhidrosis. Luckily, there are several effective treatments for hyperhidrosis that allow people to live more comfortable and productive lives.
- Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
- Doolittle, James, et al. “Hyperhidrosis: an Update on Prevalence and Severity in the United States.” Archives of Dermatological Research, vol. 308, no. 10, 2016, pp. 743–749., doi:10.1007/s00403-016-1697-9.