Understanding Excessive Sweating

Understanding Excessive Sweating

“Excessive sweating caused anxiety when working on and with clients...I feared people thought I was scared or weak.”

Excessive sweating can be a problem…and is more common than you think.

There are more than 15 million people in the U.S. who suffer from excessive sweating, a medical condition known as hyperhidrosis (hi-purr-hi-DROE-sis), literally meaning too much (hyper) sweat (hidrosis).

Everyone sweats. Sweat helps to keep the body from overheating. Excessive sweating, due to hyperhidrosis goes beyond what is needed to cool the body. For example:

I only wear breathable cotton…which is not easy to find.
I hate dripping sweat when sitting still like in a meditation class.

There are 2 main types of excessive sweating:


When you sweat excessively without any other physical reason it is called primary hyperhidrosis, which:

  • Is not caused by another medical condition or medicine
  • Often begins in childhood or adolescence
  • Usually affects body parts such as the axillae (underarms), palms, soles, and face. Often more than one body part is involved
  • Does not usually happen while sleeping
  • Sometimes runs in families. If you have a parent with it, you have a 25% chance of developing it, too

When you sweat excessively and it is a symptom of another medical condition, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis, which:

  • Can be focal (limited to certain body parts) but is more commonly generalized (involves sweating that occurs over the whole body)
  • Can happen during both waking and sleeping hours

Only a healthcare professional can diagnose you with hyperhidrosis. If you think you may have secondary hyperhidrosis, talk to your doctor right away. Treating the main illness usually helps to stop it.

Did You Know?



of people with excessive sweating have excessive underarm sweating, sometimes involving other areas, such as the back, chest, and under the breasts.


of those who suffer from excessive underarm sweating say it impacts their daily activities.


In the last day, have you experienced excessive underarm sweating?

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How can you tell if your sweat might be due to a medical condition? Take a self-assessment questionnaire to learn more. You can use these questions and your answers as a discussion guide when talking to your dermatology healthcare professional about your sweating.

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