Sweating is controlled by our nervous system. Sweat glands are found in the skin throughout the body. They exist in higher numbers in the skin of the hands, feet, armpits, and the genital region. Sweating occurs normally when the temperature of your body goes up. Diaphoresis means profuse sweating or perspiration due to an underlying medical condition or an external factor (such as medicines). Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating that is not usually due to an underlying medical condition, on areas such as the palms, soles, or armpits. Other areas of the body may also be affected. Hyperhidrosis usually begins in childhood or early adolescence. It increases in severity through puberty and into adulthood. Sweaty palms are the most common problem and the most bothersome to people who have hyperhidrosis.


Sweating is normally seen with exercise or being in hot surroundings. Not sweating in these conditions would be harmful. Stressful situations can also cause sweating. In some people, stimulation of the sweat glands during stress is overactive. Talking to strangers or shaking someone's hand can produce profuse sweating. Causes of sweating include:

  • Emotional upset.

  • Low blood pressure.

  • Low blood sugar.

  • Heart problems.

  • Low blood cell counts.

  • Certain pain relieving medicines.

  • Exercise.

  • Alcohol.

  • Infection.

  • Caffeine.

  • Spicy foods.

  • Hot flashes.

  • Overactive thyroid.

  • Illegal drug use, such as cocaine and amphetamine.

  • Use of medicines that stimulate parts of the nervous system.

  • A tumor (pheochromocytoma).

  • Withdrawal from some medicines or alcohol.


Your caregiver needs to be consulted to make sure excessive sweating is not caused by another condition. Further testing may need to be done.


  • When hyperhidrosis is caused by another condition, that condition should be treated.

  • If menopause is the cause, you may wish to talk to your caregiver about estrogen replacement.

  • If the hyperhidrosis is a natural happening of the way your body works, certain antiperspirants may help.

  • If medicines do not work, injections of botulinum toxin type A are sometimes used for underarm sweating.

  • Your caregiver can usually help you with this problem.