Hyperhidrosis is a commonly unknown illness. As a matter of fact, severe sweating can be a clinical condition if certain limits of sweat secretion are exceeded: The WHO (World Health Organization) has specified these limits as follows:
- Hyperhidrosis = production of 100 mg sweat in 5 minutes
Weighing the ammount of sweat by using a microbalance is one part of the diagnostic process, a general physical examination the other. For the classification of focal Hyperhidrosis, dermatologists use the Minor-Test (topical application of Lugol’s iodine and starch) to localize the body parts that are mostly affected.
The WHO’s official ICD-10 classification codes for Hyperhidrosis are:
- R61 → Hyperhidrosis
- R61.0 → localized Hyperhidrosis
- R61.1 → generalised Hyperhidrosis
- R61.9 → Hyperhidrosis, unspecified
Health professionals divide Hyperhidrosis into 2 basic types:
- Primary Hyperhidrosis = excessive sweating that is not caused by any bodily illness, though it could get provoked by nervous/psychological influence
- Secondary Hyperhidrosis = excessive sweating that is caused by an explicit bodily illness, infection, inflammation etc.
Furthermore, they divide between localized and generalised Hyperhidrosis:
- Focal Hyperhidrosis = severe sweating, localized to specific parts of the body, for example sweaty palms, sweaty feet, underarm sweating etc.
- Generalised Hyperhidrosis = excessive sweating, all over the body, not localized (med. Hyperhidrosis generalis)
Characteristic feature of Hyperhidrosis:
Most cases occur in people who are otherwise healthy (primary Hyperhidrosis, see above). Many who suffer from Hyperhidrosis sweat nearly all the time, regardless of their mood, their agitation or the weather. It is a totally uncontrolled appearance of sweat. It can happen at any time without any identified reason.
Experts estimate that millions of people are actually suffering from Hyperhidrosis (approx. 3% of the population). However, most people still expect sweating to be healthy and essential.
Underestimated psychological strains:
From a physical/medical point of view, Hyperhidrosis (itself) is not a dangerous illness, as long as the permament loss of water and electrolytes is efficiently counterbalanced. Nevertheless, most people with Hyperhidrosis would say they are seriously affected. Sweating still is a social taboo. Due to that, endless sweating – visible and sniffable for everyone – can cause serious mental stress, anxiety, shame, envy or disruptive behaviour. It can become a very painful burden which can result in social isolation, depression or, sadly enough, in suicide.