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Everyone sweats, but there is a common condition in which a person sweats excessively. Some people may find this excess sweating distressing but there are many effective treatments that can mitigate the embarrassing effects of excessive sweating.

Why do people sweat?

Sweat is a solution of water and salts produced by glands immediately under the skin and cools the body by evaporation during exercise and in warm surroundings. The activity of these glands is normally controlled by the nervous system.

Sometimes the nerves controlling the glands fails to function normally causing excessive sweating, even when body temperature is normal. This condition is known as hyperhidrosis.

Hyperhidrosis may occur anywhere but usually affects the hands, armpits, scalp, face, and/or feet.

What treatments are available?

Antiperspirants: Aluminium Chloride is the most effective antiperspirant which may be prescribed for you.

Botulinum toxin injection: This treatment is normally performed on patients who have tried the antiperspirants and have found them ineffective. This procedure is performed using local anaesthesia and it takes just a few minutes and consists of a number of tiny injections into the skin under each arm. The botulinum toxin binds to the nerve endings and prevents their effects on the sweat glands. Surgery: Endoscopic sympathectomy (also called ETS - endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy and TTEC - trans thoracic electrocoagulation). For those patients who have found both antiperspirants and Botulinum toxin injections ineffective surgery may sometimes be of benefit. During the procedure, the nerves that supply the sweat glands in the hands and axilla (armpit) are permanently divided. The nerves are divided using a keyhole surgery technique under general anaesthesia. Two or three small incisions are made in the skin under each arm. The nerves are divided and then sealed using cautery to prevent them regrowing.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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