Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

MedicineNet - Excessive Sweating

Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index

Medical Author:

Sweating is the act of secreting fluid from the skin by the sweat (sudoriferous) glands. These are small tubular glands situated within and under the skin (in the subcutaneous tissue). They discharge by tiny openings in the surface of the skin. Sweating is a normal response that helps regulate body temperature. People sweat more when it's hot outside or when they exercise. Increased sweating can also occur due to emotional states such as anger, fear, nervousness, or embarrassment.

Excessive sweating is referred to as hyperhidrosis, and some people may have a tendency to excessive sweating, known as primary hyperhidrosis. Sweating can also be a symptom of several medical conditions, especially when the sweating is excessive or inappropriate. Many types of infections and cancers are associated with increased sweating that particularly occurs at night. Sweating may accompany hot flashes during the menopausal transition.

Excessive sweating can sometimes be treated with prescription antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride, anticholinergic medications such as glycopyrrolate (Robinul), or with botulinum toxin (Botox) injections.

Patients may experience the related symptoms of Hot Flashes, Anxiety, and/or Rash.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/2/2012

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Main Article on Excessive Sweating
  • Hyperhidrosis Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the underarms, palms, or soles of the feet. Treatment may involve over-the-counter...learn more »
Causes of Excessive Sweating
    • Carcinoid Syndrome and Carcinoid Tumor A carcinoid tumor is a tumor that develops from enterochromaffin cells. The important characteristic of carcinoid tumors that...learn more »
      In This Article
      Carcinoid Syndrome and Carcinoid Tumor Article
      • Carcinoid tumor facts
      • What is a carcinoid tumor?
      • What is carcinoid syndrome?
      • How common are carcinoid tumors and carcinoid syndrome?
      • What is the prognosis and natural history of carcinoid tumors?
      • Where do carcinoid tumors occur?
      • How are carcinoid tumors and carcinoid syndrome diagnosed?
      • How are carcinoid tumors and carcinoid syndrome treated?
    • Chest Pain Chest pain is a common complaint by a patient in the ER. Causes of chest pain include broken or bruised ribs, pleurisy,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Chest Pain Article
      • Chest pain facts
      • Chest pain introduction
      • What are the sources of chest pain?
      • What are the causes of chest pain?
      • How is chest pain diagnosed?
      • What is the philosophy of the approach to chest pain diagnosis?
      • What is the diagnosis and treatment for chest pain?
      • Broken or bruised ribs
      • Costochondritis
      • Pleuritis or pleurisy
      • Pneumothorax
      • Shingles
      • Pneumonia
      • Pulmonary embolism
      • Angina and heart attack (myocardial infarction)
      • Pericarditis
      • Aorta and aortic dissection
      • Esophagus and reflux esophagitis
      • Referred abdominal pain
    • Cluster Headaches The term cluster headache is a type of headache that recurs over a period of time. There are episodes that last one to three...learn more »
      In This Article
      Cluster Headaches Article
      • What are cluster headaches?
      • Who gets cluster headaches?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of cluster headaches?
      • What causes cluster headaches?
      • What triggers cluster headaches?
      • How are cluster headaches diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for cluster headaches?
      • Can cluster headaches be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis for cluster headaches?
    • Drug Abuse Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Drug Abuse Article
      • Drug abuse and addiction facts
      • What is drug abuse?
      • What is drug addiction?
      • What types of drugs are commonly abused?
      • What are the physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction?
      • What are causes and risk factors for drug abuse and addiction?
      • What are symptoms and signs of drug abuse and addiction?
      • What happens to your brain when you take drugs?
      • How is drug addiction diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for drug addiction?
      • What are complications of drug addiction?
      • What is the prognosis of drug addiction?
      • Can drug abuse and addiction be prevented?
      • Where can people get help for drug abuse or addiction?
    • Endocarditis Endocarditis, a serious infection of one of the four heart valves is caused by growth of bacteria on one of the heart valves;...learn more »
      In This Article
      Endocarditis Article
      • Endocarditis facts
      • What is endocarditis?
      • What causes endocarditis?
      • What are the symptoms of endocarditis?
      • Who is at risk for endocarditis?
      • How is endocarditis diagnosed?
      • How is endocarditis treated?
    • Fever Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 degrees F. (37 degrees C.), in practice a person is...learn more »
      In This Article
      Fever Article
      • Aches, pain, fever facts
      • What is a fever?
      • What causes a fever?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of a fever?
      • How is a fever diagnosed?
      • How should I take a temperature for fever?
      • What is the treatment for a fever?
      • When should I seek medical care for a fever?
      • What are complications of a fever?
      • What is the prognosis for a fever?
      • What is the prevention for a fever?
    • Fitness Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of disease. Regular exercise can also reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety....learn more »
      In This Article
      Fitness Article
      • The importance of physical activity and fitness
      • Why should I be active?
      • Can everyone benefit from physical activity?
      • What are the recommendations for increasing fitness for youth, adults, and seniors?
      • How do I get started with a fitness plan?
      • When is a medical evaluation necessary?
      • How can I make physical activity a part of my life?
      • What are the components of physical fitness?
      • Fitness terms
    • Flu (Influenza) Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Flu (Influenza) Article
      • Flu (influenza, conventional, and H1N1) facts
      • What is influenza?
      • What are the causes of the flu?
      • What are flu symptoms in adults and in children?
      • How is the flu diagnosed?
      • What is the key to flu prevention?
      • Are there any flu shot or nasal spray vaccine side effects in adults or in children?
      • Why should the influenza vaccine be taken every year?
      • What are some treatments an individual can do at home for the flu?
      • When should a person go to the emergency department for the flu?
      • Who should receive the flu vaccine, and who has the highest risk factors? When should someone get the flu shot?
      • What is the prognosis (outlook) and complications for patients who get the flu?
      • What is the bird (avian) flu?
      • Do antiviral agents protect people from the flu?
      • Is it safe to get a flu shot that contains thimerosal?
      • Where can I find additional information about the flu?
    • Hodgkin's Disease Hodgkin's disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system with symptoms that include unexplained, recurring fevers, unexplained...learn more »
      In This Article
      Hodgkin's Disease Article
      • Hodgkin's lymphoma facts*
      • What is the lymph system?
      • What is Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What are the types of Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • How is the staging determined for Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What are the stages of Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What is the treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • Who are the doctor's who treat Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • How do people get a second opinion for Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • Clinical trials for treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma
      • Chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma
      • Targeted therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma
      • Radiation therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma
      • Stem cell transplantation for Hodgkin's lymphoma
      • Nutrition during cancer treatment
      • What is the follow-up care after treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What other support is available for cancer patients?
    • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Symptoms and signs...learn more »
      In This Article
      Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Article
      • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) facts
      • What is the human immunodeficiency virus?
      • What is the history of HIV?
      • What causes an HIV infection?
      • What are the different stages of an HIV infection?
      • What are risk factors for an HIV infection?
      • What are HIV infection symptoms and signs?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose an HIV infection? What are the different types of HIV tests?
      • What is the treatment for an HIV infection?
      • What are complications of an HIV infection?
      • What is the prognosis of an HIV infection?
      • Is it possible to prevent the transmission of HIV?
      • What research is being done on HIV?
      • Are support groups available for people who are HIV positive?
      • Where can people find more information on HIV?
    • Hyperthyroidism Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone resulting from an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased heart...learn more »
      In This Article
      Hyperthyroidism Article
      • What is hyperthyroidism?
      • What are the thyroid hormones?
      • Thyroid hormone regulation - the chain of command
      • What causes hyperthyroidism?
      • What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
      • How is hyperthyroidism diagnosed?
      • How is hyperthyroidism treated?
      • What's best for you?
      • Hyperthyroidism At A Glance
    • Hypoglycemia Hypoglycemia is a syndrome caused by low blood sugar. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include palpitations, trembling, intense hunger,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Hypoglycemia Article
      • What is hypoglycemia?
      • Who is at risk for hypoglycemia?
      • I thought high blood sugar was bad. Why is low blood sugar also bad?
      • Can the body protect itself from hypoglycemia?
      • What are symptoms of hypoglycemia and how low is too low?
      • How is hypoglycemia treated?
      • Is there anything else that should be done to manage hypoglycemia?
    • Leukemia Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly...learn more »
      In This Article
      Leukemia Article
      • Leukemia facts*
      • What is leukemia?
      • What are the types of leukemia?
      • Who is at risk for leukemia?
      • What are symptoms of leukemia?
      • How is leukemia diagnosed?
      • How is leukemia treated?
      • How does someone get a second opinion about leukemia treatment?
      • What happens after treatment for leukemia?
      • How important is nutrition and physical activity for leukemia patients?
      • What sort of follow-up care do leukemia patients need?
      • What are some sources of support?
      • What research is being done for leukemia?
      • What resources are available to patients with leukemia?
    • Menopause Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause...learn more »
      In This Article
      Menopause Article
      • Menopause facts
      • What is menopause?
      • At what age does a woman typically reach menopause?
      • What conditions can affect the timing of menopause?
      • What are the symptoms of menopause?
      • What are the complications and effects of menopause on chronic medical conditions?
      • Are hormone levels or other blood tests helpful in detecting menopause?
      • What are the treatment options for the symptoms of menopause?
      • Hormone therapy for menopause
      • Other medical therapies for menopause
      • Alternative therapies for menopause
      • Non-hormone therapies for menopause
      • Lifestyle factors in managing menopause symptoms
    • Osteomyelitis Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. Potential causes include injections around the bone, fractures that puncture the skin,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Osteomyelitis Article
      • Osteomyelitis facts
      • What is osteomyelitis?
      • What causes osteomyelitis?
      • What are osteomyelitis symptoms and signs?
      • How is osteomyelitis diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for osteomyelitis?
      • What is the prognosis for osteomyelitis?
    • Pheochromocytoma Pheochromocytoma is a tumor of the adrenal gland. Pheochromocytomas are quite rare and the vast majority of them are entirely...learn more »
      In This Article
      Pheochromocytoma Article
      • Pheochromocytoma facts
      • What is a pheochromocytoma?
      • What are the symptoms of a pheochromocytoma?
      • What conditions are associated with pheochromocytomas?
      • What else can cause the symptoms of a pheochromocytoma?
      • How is pheochromocytoma diagnosis?
      • How is a pheochromocytoma treated?
      • What is the prognosis with a pheochromocytoma?
    • Tuberculosis (TB) Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Symptoms and signs of TB include bloody sputum, fever,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Tuberculosis (TB) Article
      • Tuberculosis (TB) facts
      • What is tuberculosis?
      • Are there different types of tuberculosis?
      • What causes tuberculosis?
      • What are risk factors for tuberculosis?
      • What are tuberculosis symptoms and signs?
      • How do physicians diagnose tuberculosis?
      • What is the treatment for tuberculosis?
      • What are complications of tuberculosis?
      • What is the prognosis of tuberculosis?
      • How can people prevent tuberculosis?
Other Causes of Excessive Sweating
  • Abscesses
  • Autonomic Nervous System Damage (Autonomic Neuropathy)
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Drug Overdose
  • Emotional Disturbances
  • Fungal Infections
  • Malignant Tumors
  • Medications
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Viral Infections
  • Warm Environment
Examples of Medications for Excessive Sweating
  • aluminum chloride solution - topical, Drysol, Xerac AC
  • glycopyrrolate-injection, Robinul
  • onabotulinumtoxinA, Botox, Botox Cosmetic




Women's Health

Find out what women really need.