every time I write a new article, the question “what is primary hyperhidrosis” comes up, because I am here to help people who suffer from excessive sweating. However, the term hyperhidrosis is not very well known.
In fact, I had the excessive sweating problem for many years until I finally found out that hyperhidrosis is the term used for excessive sweating.After that, I was still confused with that hyperhidrosis was, because I heard people claiming that they suffer from hyperhidrosis, which did not make sense to me, because they had a different problem that I did.
You’re not alone in dealing with sweat-related problems. I have been managing and dealing with hyperhidrosis for over 2 decades now so I do know how hard it is. Read my story here.
After years of doing my research, I have come to a fuller understanding of these terms and others that can be quite confusing.
A Little About Sweating
Over 98% of the world’s population sweats. There is just a small 1-2% of people that suffer from hypohidrosis, the condition where they do not sweat. The ones that sweat, have sweat glands all over our bodies.
Sweating is there to primarily regulate our body temperature but it also aids the skin to protect our vital organs. Sweat prevents toxins from coming into our skin, but it also keeps our skin healthy and hydrated.
We all sweat differently, some more and others less. Some sweat more on their foreheads, others in their armpits, others in their backs, and still others on their feet and palms. There is 2-3% of the population that sweats more than necessary and normal.
These individuals (numbers could be significantly higher because many cases are not accounted for because not all people see a doctor when they sweat more than necessary) suffer from hyperhidrosis.
However, before I describe hyperhidrosis a little more in detail, let us look at where sweat comes from and what our body produces it. For that, we need to study a little about the sweat glands.
2 Types Of Glands Described
Eccrine Sweat Glands
To understand hyperhidrosis better, we have to look at the 2 types of glands: Eccrine and apocrine sweat glands. The eccrine glands are the ones that are triggered by the part of your brain that is responsible to cool you down.
People that do not sweat, or whose sweat glands have been altered commonly suffer from headaches, and other symptoms.
Since sweating is there to reduce the body temperature, individuals that cannot sweat when their bodies get warmer, tend to have more difficulties. For example, being in the hot sun for extended periods can even be dangerous for them.
The eccrine sweat glands are located all over our bodies and are there only to regulate the body temperature. These sweat glands produce a watery solution that contains few minerals.
With every drop of sweat that comes out of the pores, a little heat is evaporated, thus cooling down the body in a short time. Since they are all over the body, it does not take long for our bodies to cool down.
Sweat from the eccrine glands does not smell bad at all, neither does it make you feel all filthy and ready for a shower.
Apocrine Sweat Glands
If you look at the apocrine glands, you will see that they are located deeper underneath our skin than the eccrine glands and their functions differ greatly from those of the eccrine glands. Also, these are not all over the body. You will only find them in your armpits, forehead, feet, palms, and groin.
The composition of the sweat they produce is also completely different from the sweat produced by the eccrine glands.
Sweat from the apocrine glands contains proteins, fats, minerals, and salts. This sweat is a thicker liquid that gets “sticky” if not washed off after some time.
Sweat from these glands does not smell bad itself, but as it is being broken down by bacteria living on our skin, especially in humid and hot body regions, like armpits, groin area, and feet, the breakdown process can be quite unpleasant as much for yourself than for others.
The apocrine sweat glands are not connected to the temperature regulation; they are triggered by our nervous system, in other words, they are pumped by adrenaline.
Therefore, when you are in a panic, in great fear, in great emotions, sexually stimulated, these sweat glands start to produce sweat.
It is known that in us humans the apocrine glands are producing an odor only perceived by the brain to attract the opposite sex.
What Is Hyperhidrosis?
Now that we know the functions of each of the sweat glands, we can make sense of hyperhidrosis.
Individuals that sweat excessively, do so no matter what the weather conditions are. You know that you suffer from hyperhidrosis when you sweat in situations where you would not expect someone to sweat.
It can be during a cold winter night, before writing an examen, while on a date, when dining in at home with family.
When you do your workout routine or work in the hot sun, go into a sauna, you expect yourself to sweat. The harder you work, the harder you sweat. However, that is not excessive sweating, because hyperhidrosis, as stated, occurs in circumstances where you don’t think you will sweat.
For example, you have a free day and you decide to stay in pajamas for the day, sitting back and resting, reading a book, watching a movie, among other things. You are not stressed, you are not in a hurry, but you sit there and sweat. That is a sign of excessive sweating.
Another example is that you only recently started to sweat more than you are used to when cooking your favorite meal and it happens repeatedly.
That is when you know that you could be suffering from hyperhidrosis.
What Happens In Our Bodies When We Have Hyperhidrosis?
The sweat glands that can be linked to hyperhidrosis are the apocrine sweat glands and not the eccrine glands. All people who sweat excessively sweat either too much on their feet, palms, groin, forehead, armpits, and sometimes in their neck.
However, you will not see someone with this problem that sweats excessively on their legs, or on their back. That is because the eccrine glands aren’t triggered to produce more sweat than normal.
Interestingly, someone who sweats excessively is not bound to weather conditions to sweat less or more. These individuals may sweat excessively in a cool room, and others may sweat when they are not doing anything.
Of course, when it gets very warm, sweating can increase, but that does not necessarily mean that they suffer from hyperhidrosis.
I often hear people say that they suffer from hyperhidrosis during summertime. That is not true. When you have hyperhidrosis, you sweat excessively year-round, and sweating is only predictable to some degree.
For instance, I have suffered from this condition ever since my early teens. I know that when I am going to a social event, I will be sweating. But there are winter days when I sweat a lot while at home, and there are warm summer days when I sweat little compared to the heat.
Also, there are social gatherings when I sweat a little, and other times I sweat so much that I can hardly deal with it. Also, I sweat mostly in my armpits. Sometimes my forehead and groin get sweat as well.
When you suffer from hyperhidrosis, your brain does not stop sending signals to the sweat glands to produce sweat. It is as if your adrenaline was constantly telling you to produce sweat, even if it is not needed. Remember, when suffering from hyperhidrosis, you sweat when it is not necessary.
Research has yet to determine why the brain triggers the apocrine sweat glands to produce so much sweat. It seems like there is a hormonal imbalance when that happens. However, balancing out the hormones does not give the wanted effects. Therefore, it is a mystery why that happens.
Interesting Facts about Hyperhidrosis
It is primary hyperhidrosis that has me puzzled, and I believe researchers too. This is the condition in which there is no reason found why an individual sweats that much.
Let me share a few facts about primary hyperhidrosis:
- Primary hyperhidrosis affects around 2-3% of the population, as mentioned before.
- Primary hyperhidrosis starts in the early teens or into early adulthood. It prevails for life and there is nothing you can do about it surgical intervention.
- Although primary hyperhidrosis is a condition for life, it will diminish as you age, because aging causes the sweat glands to literally “dry up”.
- If you do not want to sweat excessively, you either need to remove the sweat glands through surgery, or go to clinical strength antiperspirants.
- This condition does not affect your health in any way, nor are there any secondary or long-term effects when suffering from this condition.
- Primary hyperhidrosis only affects your mental well being very much, because your world turns around the fact that you will sweat so much and it will be embarrassing when everybody notices.
There are other interesting facts about hyperhidrosis, but for now, this gives you a pretty good idea what happens.
Does Hyperhidrosis Affect Your Mental Well-being?
When you sweat for no reason in different parts of your body, it can become frankly embarrassing. Your whole energy starts to go around the fact that everybody is going to see it and think bad of you.
If you sweat a lot on your palms, you will dread signing papers, because you will leave smears on the paper. Oh, and did I mention paper exams and handshakes? A person suffering from palmar hyperhidrosis is always worried to use their hands.
Axillary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating in the armpits. That is the problem that I have had for years. After I take a shower, it takes less than 20 minutes and my shirts are completely wet in the armpits.
I have often showered, got dressed, and by the time I had to leave (in forty minutes), I went to change my undershirt and shirt again because it was embarrassing.
When you sweat excessively for no reason in your armpits, you really do not want to give hugs, sit closely next to people, lift your arms to point to something, and many others.
Primary hyperhidrosis really becomes a social phobia, if I can call it that. At home, where everybody is used to your sweating, you do not mind as much what other people with think, but the moment you have to leave the comfort of your home, your thoughts go wild about what everybody else will think.
I have lived that for many years. Fortunately, I have found solutions to the problem, and now I don’t fear outings anymore.
Years ago, I started buying only clothes where sweat marks would be less seen, usually dark and baggy clothes. And on top of those, many layers. As hot as it could be in the summer, I often ran around with suit jackets or jackets, just to find out that after a short time, sweat could be seen as well.
I remember a few Christmas programs with my students. Although the program was only 1 hour long, plus give or take an hour of being there to get ready, my whole suit was drenched around the armpits. I would take a shower and off into the washing machine with all those wet clothes.
Now, sweating excessively in your face, in your groin, and in your feet, which are common forms of hyperhidrosis, can be a challenge. And it has a very negative impact on your self-image.
Sweating can ruin your days, and make you want to avoid outings completely. At least it happened with me, and many fellow hyperhidrosis sufferers understand because they have felt the same.
What Can You Do About Hyperhidrosis?
As I said before, I have found the answer to my problem. Around 2 years ago, I was so fed up with my sweating problem that I honestly did not know how to continue like this.
My son was about 2 years of age and it frustrated me every time that I picked him up and held him, he would get even his pants wet because of my wet armpits.
I was thinking of how to deal with it when he would grow up. I mean, my thoughts were that he would probably start rejecting me because of it.
Doesn’t it sound extreme and unreal that I would have those kinds of thoughts? However, you get so caught up on those thoughts that your whole life spins around it.
Anyway, long story short, I did my research. I looked for sweat pads. I had heard of them before, so I decided that I wanted to give them a try.
While I did that research, I found a very interesting product on Amazon, and I couldn’t withstand to buy it. It cost me around 19 dollars back then. I was so tight on budget, and many people were complaining about the product, that I was not even sure if it was for me.
In no time, after doing proper research, I bought the product. Then I also found an amazing undershirt that had the sweat pads sewn into the shirt. Again, without hesitation, I bought one of these undershirts.
And guess what, it was only after putting the new undershirt one for the first time, I loved it to pieces. Also, I applied the clinical strength antiperspirant that I had bought on Amazon, and I loved it.
Going dry in your armpits, 100% dry, for a few days, was unbelievable. Combined with the shirt, which wasn’t even necessary, it just did wonders.
I soon bought a weeks supply and purchased more antiperspirant. I have not regretted it so far because I can finally live stress-free and wear whatever I want, whenever I want. What a relief.
What is primary hyperhidrosis? Recapitulating, you can see that primary hyperhidrosis is a completely normal condition in which many of us suffer every day. This excessive sweating will not leave a side effect, but it can and will greatly impact your self-image.
There is nothing you can do to prevent primary hyperhidrosis and once it sets on in your early teens or early adulthood, you will have to live for the rest of your life with it, unless you get a surgical intervention.
But in order to make you comfortable with yourself, and to block sweat before it ever comes out of the pores, you will need to take advantage of great clinical strength antiperspirants that are available today or grab a sweat-padded undershirt that will catch up all the sweat from your armpits before it ever sees the light of the day.
And for those who suffer from facial, palmar, or plantar hyperhidrosis can take advantage of great antiperspirants that were specifically designed for those individuals.
If you understood what primary hyperhidrosis is, and you found this article helpful, please give me a like on social media by clicking the buttons below. Also, please leave me a comment with any question that you have regarding this topic, or experiences that you have lived.
And as always, I am here to help and improve your sweating problem.
Ready to Make a Change Now?
My name is Oscar and I am the founder and director of Stop-Sweating-Now.com and have been researching and writing about hyperhidrosis for many years.
I have been sweating excessively for the better part of my life. I looked for solutions for well over a decade, but I never found anything that lasted.
It all started when I was around 14 years of age, when I suddenly found out that I was sweating more in my armpits than I should. At first I thought it was something that would go away soon, but I was wrong.
I had given up hope and accepted to live the rest of my life being embarrassed with ugly sweat stains in my armpits.
However, after a few years of not searching for any solutions anymore, I gave it another shot. And I found what finally gave me the freedom I had longed for so many years.
After finding a solution to my problem, I decided it was important to shout out my message to those that are suffering from what I had lived with so many years.
My goal is to help people find their freedom from sweating by sharing my expertise because hyperhidrosis is an underdiagnosed condition.
People don’t know that it is a medical term and can be treated effectively.
That is why I am here: Sharing with you what I know, what works and what does not work.
Want to learn more about what I did? Click below!
I was not so familiar with primary hyperhidrosis, but after reading your article it explains a lot and take away some questions I had. I would sweat very easy by my but and under my armpits. and like you said would buy clothes that would hide the sweaty spots. Now close to the age of 60 it seems indeed that it is much less compare to my teenage years.
indeed, it seems like hyperhidrosis decreases after time. I am glad that you do not sweat anymore that much. However, I am sure you would have liked to have a solution back when you were very young.
Glad to help,
My sister suffers from Primary Hyperhidrosis. Your are right when you say it affects your mental state. You feel embarrassed. I find your post really interesting and informative. The downside is there is no cure for it, but as you say it might get better with age. The upside; you do get good products you can use to relief the excessive sweating. I was not aware you do get products to use to reduce Primary Hyperhidrosis. I will tell her about it and direct her to your website.
You do mention the excessive sweating will leave no side effects, but what about dehydration? Do you need to consume more liquids to keep hydrated? She does suffer from headaches a lot and I was wandering if this could be the problem?
Thanks for a great post!
thanks for leaving me a positive comment and that you gained some valuable knowledge around primary hyperhidrosis.
Dehydration should not be a problem in somebody that suffers from hyperhidrosis. However, if one sweats excessively, drinking plenty of water can reduce sweating a bit. I have an interesting article around that here.
If she is out in the sun a lot and sweats excessively, your sister would need to drink lots of water. I am not suffering from headaches, yet I sweat a lot. Of course there is a relation between headaches and dehydration, so I just recommend that if the work she does requires lots of physical energy, that she drinks more water. That could relieve her from here headaches.
But else, hyperhidrosis does not cause dehydration if you drink regularly throughout the day. But if you do not get the right amount of liquids into your body, then yes, dehydration can be caused.
Looking forward to hearing from your sister,