5 Myths About Hyperhidrosis Debunked


Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lee Hwee Chyen

MBBS MRCP (UK) FAMS (Dermatology)

5 Myths About Hyperhidrosis Debunked

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterised by excessive sweating, exceeding the body’s normal requirements for temperature regulation. It can affect various parts of the body, including the palms, soles, underarms, or face, causing considerable discomfort and often impacting the quality of life.

Here are 5 common myths about Hyperhidrosis debunked to help you plan effective management strategies for this condition.

Myth 1: Hyperhidrosis is Merely Excessive Sweating

Hyperhidrosis is not simply a case of excessive sweating with no underlying medical significance. It is a distinct medical condition that can be primary (idiopathic) or secondary to other medical issues.

Primary hyperhidrosis, where no obvious cause is identified, typically affects specific areas and is symmetric, meaning it occurs on both sides of the body.

Secondary hyperhidrosis can be a symptom of various underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or infections.

In severe cases, the sweating in hyperhidrosis can soak through clothing or drip off hands, disrupting daily activities and social interactions.

Myth 2: Only Antiperspirants Treat Hyperhidrosis

While antiperspirants, especially those containing aluminium chloride, can be effective for mild cases, they are not the only treatment available. For more severe cases, treatments may include prescription medications, iontophoresis (a procedure that uses electrical currents to reduce sweating), Botox injections to temporarily block the nerves that trigger sweat glands, or even surgery in extreme cases.

Myth 3: Hyperhidrosis is Caused by Nervousness

Although stress and anxiety can exacerbate sweating, they are not primary causes of hyperhidrosis. This condition is often a physiological issue unrelated to emotional states. Primary hyperhidrosis, in particular, is thought to be caused by overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, specifically the nerves that trigger sweat glands. This differs from normal sweating that occurs in response to emotional stress, physical exertion, or warm temperatures.

Myth 4: Hyperhidrosis is Not a Serious Medical Condition

Hyperhidrosis may not be life-threatening, however, it can have profound impacts on a person’s quality of life. Excessive sweating can cause physical discomfort, skin irritation, and an increased risk of skin infections.

Beyond the physical symptoms, the condition can also lead to psychological distress. Individuals with hyperhidrosis often experience anxiety, embarrassment, and social withdrawal due to fear of public scrutiny or stigma.

Myth 5: Hyperhidrosis Only Affects Adults

Hyperhidrosis can occur at any age, including in children and adolescents. Paediatric hyperhidrosis often goes unrecognized or is mistaken for a phase that children will outgrow. However, children can experience the same level of discomfort and social challenges as adults with this condition.

Hyperhidrosis can manifest in childhood or adolescence, with some cases reported in children as young as a few months old. Children with hyperhidrosis may struggle with activities such as writing (due to sweaty palms) or participate less in physical activities to avoid sweating.