By Dr Puneet Kapoor
Summer is just around the corner and those suffering from excessive sweating have begun to dread the embarrassing prospect of underarm wet patches and the sweat-stained clothing. Although sweating is a normal function of our body, in some people the sweat glands are in an overdrive due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system – a condition called ‘hyperhidrosis’. You might be suffering from hyperhidrosis, if you sweat copiously even when it is not too hot; if you feel the need to change clothing many times a day to hide sweaty armpits; if regular anti-perspirants, deodorants don’t seem to be working; or if you have sweaty hands and feet.
Hyperhidrosis mostly develops in adolescence and many patients have a family history of the disorder. The underlying cause of the disorder is undetermined, but genetics may play a role and stress may exacerbate it. Axillary hyperhidrosis could also be associated with a pervasive bad odour which could lead to an emotional strain and loss of confidence. The reason is that while the sweat glands in other body parts are ‘accrine’ glands which produce only sweat, the ones in axilla are ‘apocrine’ glands which also produce a thick secretion along with the sweat, bacterial breakdown of which causes the stink. It can affect a person’s lifestyle completely including style of dressing & choice of outdoor activities. People with excessive armpit sweating might have to change their clothing many times a day. Women with hyperhidrosis are often troubled by permanent sweat stains on expensive blouses and tops, which may not go even after dry-cleaning.
Persons with excess sweating of palms avoid shaking hand with others and they are perceived as having ‘nervous’ personality. On the other hand, people with excess sweating of feet have moist socks all the times and their footwear stink a lot.
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