what causes it and how can it be limited?
Written by Paul Musset, Doctor in Pharmacy | published on | updated on 30/03/2020
Sweating is a natural process. It is even essential for the body to evacuate excess heat. However, some people may suffer from hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating. This benign condition can cause significant discomfort, distress or even a real complex for the person suffering from it. But what are the causes of excessive sweating? Can it be counteracted? We will discuss this in detail right after a quick presentation of this often very uncomfortable condition.
Hyperhidrosis: When sweating is out of proportion
The different types of sweating
It is the sweat glands that cause sweating. They are naturally present over the entire surface of the body and in higher concentrations in the armpits as well as on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands.
Sweating occurs for one of two reasons:
- The outside temperature increases and becomes higher than that of the body.
- The body temperature rises suddenly due to fever or considerable energy expenditure (e.g. when exercising).
In both situations, the hypothalamus (gland in the brain) reacts to the increase in body temperature by sending blood to the skin. The sweat glands that connect the pores of the skin then release water, which causing sweating to occur.
Did you know?
The unpleasant smell that often accompanies sweating is not directly related to it. The culprits are the micro-organisms on the skin that multiply with sweat. These bacteria, favoured by hair follicles, especially like the warmth of the armpits. This is why odours are mainly concentrated in this area.
The point of sweating
Sweating is essential to regulate body temperature and maintain it at a normal level. Our body is exposed to daily temperature variations. However, for proper functioning, it needs to be maintained at around 37 °C. Therefore, sweating is necessary to regulate body temperature.
At the same time, sweating serves other purposes:
- It contributes to the elimination of waste and toxins in the blood.
- It acts as a defence mechanism against excessive internal heat (due to fever, for example).
- It allows the feet and hands to grip better.
How can excessive sweating be recognised?
Sweating is therefore beneficial and totally natural. However, when there is too much sweat and its level exceeds what is physiologically necessary, it can be very uncomfortable.
Here are some examples of situations that may indicate excessive sweating:
- The hands and/or feet are constantly sweaty.
- Simple movements cause you to drip sweat.
- The quantity of sweat is so high that it becomes an everyday embarrassment.
- The resulting marks on clothing require several changes on a single day.
Excessive sweating: Causes and consequences
This is the most common type of excessive sweating. It is often localised and usually manifests itself symmetrically or bilaterally. Hyperhidrosis is generally considered to be primary hyperhidrosis when the excessive sweating is present for more than six months. Often genetic, this type of excessive sweating occurs before a person turns 25. Primary hyperhidrosis is not the result of a disease.
This type of hyperhidrosis is caused by a medical condition. The heavy sweating can be linked to an infection, hormonal imbalance caused by certain diseases, obesity or high anxiety. Secondary hyperhidrosis can be generalised to the entire body. If it is localised, unlike primary hyperhidrosis, it is usually unilateral.
The repercussions: From embarrassing to handicapping
While hyperhidrosis, especially primary hyperhidrosis, is not serious from a health point of view, its visible and undesirable effects can make the everyday life of people with the condition very difficult to bear. Some people only feel minor discomfort. But for other individuals, hyperhidrosis can be experienced as a real disability or be the cause of a real social phobia.
Limiting excessive sweating: The solutions at your fingertips
In order to sweat less and say goodbye to the complexes and discomfort that can result from heavy sweating, there are solutions specific to each affected part of the body.
Treatment for the feet and hands
In case of palmar hyperhidrosis, the simple fact of having to greet a person by shaking his or her hand can cause anxiety. As with the soles of the feet, the hands require special treatment to counteract the effects of sweating. Thanks to the synergy of its components and in particular the presence of aluminium salts, Hidrosis Control Antiperspirant Cream from Ducray helps to absorb moisture, remove odours and cleanse the skin.
The creamy, non-sticky texture is particularly well suited to the feet and hands, as it is very easy to apply and is absorbed quickly.
Solutions for more beautiful armpits
As its name suggests, a deodorant simply masks odours. Made with aluminium salts, antiperspirants reduce sweating under the armpits by tightening the pores for a few hours. They also contain an antibacterial active ingredient that prevents the proliferation of micro-organisms that cause bad odours.
When excessive sweating becomes really uncomfortable, an antiperspirant is no longer enough to limit sweating. Unperspirant treatments can be used in its place. The role of an unperspirant is to create a keratin plug in the sweat glands. This causes the sweat glands to rest and does not have a detrimental effect.
The effectiveness of unperspirants lasts between two and seven days.
Did you know?
The number of sweat glands in the armpits represents only about 1% of the total amount present throughout the body. Therefore, localised excessive sweating is inevitable and it is not necessary to suffer from it without taking any action. If local solutions are ineffective, do not hesitate to consult a doctor, as there are more advanced treatments available: medications, iontophoresis, botulinum toxin injections.
Sweating is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Without it, its temperature could not be regulated and the body could overheat in certain conditions. That is why it is essential not to eradicate sweating from the entire body. However, it is quite possible to counteract it locally with a solution that blocks the action of the sweat glands without the risk of interfering with the body’s thermal regulation.
Three key points to remember about excessive sweating:
- Sweating is a natural and vital phenomenon: it is imperative that it not be blocked completely.
- Hyperhidrosis is not inevitable: there are simple ways to counteract it.
- An antiperspirant reduces local perspiration while an unperspirant temporarily blocks it.