Hyperhidrosis is just a fancy way of saying too much sweat. The 2-3 percent of the population with this condition sweat a lot more than usual, and do so somewhat unpredictably – that is, not necessarily when they are hot or exercising [source: Medline Plus]. This excess sweating can lead, not just to discomfort of excess wetness and increased risk of fungal infections and skin conditions, but emotional stress as well.
While doctors aren't sure of the causes of this condition -- other than noting that it seems to run in families -- they do have several ways to treat it. Some treatments are milder, like heavy-duty antiperspirant or medications that prevent the stimulation of sweat glands. Other treatments are out there, too, like Botox, which temporarily blocks the nerves that stimulate sweating, or iontophoresis, which uses a gentle electrical current to temporarily turn off sweat glands.
Both of these solutions, while generally helpful, are temporary and need continued treatments to remain effective. For patients who don't respond to any of these treatments, there's always the option of surgery to either remove some sweat glands directly or another surgery called a sympathectomy in which a surgeon cuts or destroys certain nerves in an attempt to turn off the signal that tells the body to sweat excessively.
Doctors will call the same type of excess sweating secondary hyperhidrosis if the sweating happens as a result of another condition. As it happens, we can tell you about a few of those, too.