Generalised Hyperhidrosis

Generalised hyperhidrosis is a condition characterised by excessive sweating across the entire body. It is classified into two types –  primary (idiopathic) hyperhidrosis, where the cause is unknown, and secondary hyperhidrosis, which is due to underlying medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, menopause, carcinoid syndrome, pheochromocytoma and other malignancies. This condition can lead to significant discomfort, affecting both social and psychological well-being, and poses challenges in daily life.

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Key Points

What is generalised hyperhidrosis?

Generalised hyperhidrosis involves excessive sweating that affects multiple areas of the body. Primary generalised hyperhidrosis has no identifiable cause, while secondary hyperhidrosis is associated with underlying health issues.

Who gets generalised hyperhidrosis?

Generalised hyperhidrosis can affect anyone but is more commonly observed in adults. Primary hyperhidrosis typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Secondary hyperhidrosis is associated with underlying medical conditions and can occur at any age.

Clinical features

Symptoms include widespread sweating that can be continuous or episodic. It often occurs during the day and stops overnight and can significantly impact daily activities and personal interactions.

Diagnosis and differential diagnosis

Diagnosis involves evaluating medical history and conducting tests to rule out secondary causes. Blood tests and other investigations may be required. It’s important to differentiate generalised hyperhidrosis from focal forms and other medical conditions that cause excessive sweating.

Impact and complications

The condition can disrupt normal daily activities, cause emotional and social challenges, and lead to skin irritation and sometimes infections. The impact on quality of life can be substantial.

Treatment Options for Generalised Hyperhidrosis

The treatment of generalised hyperhidrosis focuses on investigating potential medical causes and managing the symptoms in cases of primary hyperhidrosis.  Oral medications, specifically anticholinergics, are used to reduce sweating across the body. However, topical treatments often have limited effectiveness for generalised symptoms due to the widespread nature of the condition. Identifying and treating any underlying conditions is crucial for individuals with secondary hyperhidrosis, as it addresses the cause of the excessive sweating. Lifestyle adjustments, such as wearing breathable clothing and using absorbent materials, can also aid in managing the symptoms. 

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