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Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association

August 2010, Volume 2 Number 4 , p 171 - 173


  • Katherine Kenny


Hyperhidrosis is a physiological disorder of the sympathic nervous system characterized by excessive sweating beyond what is required to cool the body. Although not life-threatening, hyperhidrosis has psychological, social, and professional consequences, and can be disabling. Focal hyperhidrosis involves specific areas of the body, most commonly the hands, feet, axillae, and face.The pathophysiology of focal hyperhidrosis is poorly understood and the etiology unknown.1 Symptoms arise from excessive secretion of the eccrine sweat glands, which are innervated by the cholinergic fibers of the sympathetic nervous system. A genetic predisposition may exist since up to 66% of symptomatic patients report another family member afflicted with hyperhidrosis.The incidence of hyperhidrosis in the United States has been reported as 2.8% of the general population; it affects men and women equally, with the highest prevalence among 25- to 64-year-olds. The average age of onset is 25 years, however this can differ depending on the affected area. Palmar hyperhidrosis has the earliest average onset at age 13.2 Most patients do not seek treatment until adulthood.Profuse, uncontrollable sweating can interfere with the recreational, social, academic, and professional aspects of one's life.3-5 Many patients are unable to develop or maintain intimate relationships, perform activities of daily living, work in certain jobs, and report a negative impact on health-related quality of life.6,7V.H., a 38-year old, divorced female, presented with complaints of severe, spontaneous sweating on her hands and underarms. Symptoms had been present for as long as she could remember. She had no illnesses and took no medications. There were no known allergies. Her only surgery was a tonsillectomy at age 6. She did not smoke or drink alcohol, and denied use of illicit drugs.Family history revealed that her mother had hypertension, her father died of heart failure, and her sister had excessive sweating of the

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