All human beings sweat to varying degrees. As matter of fact sweating is a means for the body to cool down. The perspiration evaporates and in doing so it cools the body. The drier and the hotter the atmosphere, the more effective is the cooling effect of perspiration. That is why one doesn’t not sweat a lot or feel the need to sweat in very hot and dry weather. However, there are some unfortunate souls who drip sweat or even soak their clothes wet with their sweat. Some sweat under their arms, some drip sweat from their palms and end up soaking the paper on which they keep their hand to write. There are yet others who soak their socks wet, leading to smelly feet as well. In fact, some 3% of Americans are said to suffer from this condition which is called hyperhidrosis in medical terminology. These types of excessive sweating in localised sweating is called Focal or Primary hyperhidrosis. This type of excessive sweating is Idiopathic and there is no known reason as to why someone sweats excessively in specific places.
Since there are no discernible causes for this excessive sweating, it is more of a social problem and cause of embarrassment rather than a medical issue. It causes lots of mortification in public places, damages interpersonal interaction in work places as well as at social gatherings. It spoils one’s repute and makes one feel unwanted in public places and at social gatherings and functions. This can lead to depression, and loss of self-confidence and other psychological problems.
Treatments of Excessive Sweating
The absence of a causative factor militates against a systemic approach to its handling.
– The preliminary treatment is to provide relief to the discomfort of the patient. This is normally attempted by physically barring the sweat from coming out of the sweat gland. Over the counter drugs containing heavy metal salts generally aluminium chloride in low concentrations.
– When this does not give adequate relief, a higher concentration of the salt is used in what are called prescription strength medicines. These medicines contain a chemical called aluminium chloride hexahydrate. The salt goes into the sweat duct and blocks it. These are for local application. It is applied just before going to bed two or three nights continuously. As a follow, one should use it once a week for several weeks for continued effect. This biggest drawback to this treatment is skin irritation. A very dry skin prior to its application is found to reduce the reaction.
In more obstinate cases more advanced methods, even surgical removal of the glands can be employed. Chronic excessive sweating is not without long term consequences.