Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating. Perspiration is a normal bodily function, controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Sweat glands are found in the skin throughout the body, however are present in higher numbers in the skin of the hands, feet, armpits and the genital regions. Perspiring is a normal physiologic response of the body when the internal or body temperature rises. This response is characteristically seen with either exercise, or exposure to high environmental temperatures. Stressful situations can also stimulate the autonomic nervous system which then increases sweat production by the glands highly concentrated in the hands, feet, or other regions. In most people, the autonomic response in the sweat glands to stress is not excessive. Unfortunately in patients with hyperhidrosis, the autonomic stimulation of the sweat glands in response to stress is hyperactive. Normal everyday encounters, such as taking notes in school, holding or shaking someone's hand are embarrassing. Yet the physiologic response of the autonomic nervous system to exercise or high temperature is normal.
It is estimated that approximately 1% of adults suffer from hyperhidrosis.