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The sweat glands are located in the skin and are involved in the physiological phenomenon of sweating or perspiration, which regulates body temperature.

The sweat gland

The activity of the sweat gland is influenced by various factors (genetics, hormones, temperature changes, stress, emotions, etc.). When sweating is excessive, beyond what is needed for temperature regulation, or there is an exaggerated response to stimuli, this is known as hyperhidrosis (excessive pathological sweating).

Hyperhidrosis: causes

The causes of hyperhidrosis depend on the type in question.

Hyperhidrosis can be classified as primary, when it appears spontaneously, or secondary, when it derives from a disease.

The causes of primary hyperhidrosis are unknown. It usually appears at the beginning of childhood, progressively worsening during adolescence, and it decreases in older ages. It affects both sexes and it occurs across all races.

As for the origin of secondary hyperhidrosis, this seems to be more generalised, and in that case, the state of excessive sweating is associated with an underlying disease process, such as hyperhidrosis linked to recurrent infectious processes, endocrine disorders such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, etc.

Hyperhidrosis prevalence

It is estimated that it affects 0.5-1% of the population in developed countries, and in 65% of cases it is normal for it to affect more than one member of the same family.

Generally, hyperhidrosis manifests itself in parts of the body where more glands are concentrated: hands, face, armpits and feet. People suffering from it are at a higher risk of suffering from skin infections, such as warts, athlete's foot and pitted keratolysis, etc., as the maceration taking place in the skin affects its protective barrier function. It can become an incapacitating condition, with social implications causing anxiety and loss of quality of life for patients.

Hyperhidrosis: Treatment

Topical antiperspirants are often the treatment of choice for hyperhidrosis. This is due to their ability to reduce sweating by partially and temporarily obstructing the excretory ducts of the sweat glands. These antiperspirants can come in different formats depending on the area of application they have been formulated for. Regarding their components, aluminium salts have proven to be the most effective astringent substances for the treatment of hyperhidrosis.

In turn, it is important for people with hyperhidrosis to know the differences between deodorants and topical antiperspirants.

While the latter act on the physiology of the sweat glands, deodorants only mask body odour and, at best, neutralise bacterial growth.

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