Complications of hyperhidrosis 

Hyperhidrosis doesn't usually pose a serious threat to your health, but it can sometimes lead to physical and emotional problems.

Fungal infections

Hyperhidrosis increases the risk of developing fungal infections, particularly on the feet – most commonly fungal nail infections and athlete’s foot. This is because excessive sweat combined with wearing socks and shoes creates an ideal surrounding for fungi to grow.

Fungal infections can be treated with antifungal creams. More severe cases may require antifungal tablets or capsules.

Skin conditions

Excessive sweat can make you more vulnerable to certain skin conditions, such as:

  • warts – small, rough lumps on the skin that are caused by the HPV virus
  • boils – swollen red-yellow bumps in the skin that can develop when a hair follicle becomes infected

Eczema can also be made worse by excessive sweating.

Body odour

Although people with hyperhidrosis sweat a lot, most don't have problems with body odour. This is because hyperhidrosis doesn't usually affect the sweat glands responsible for producing unpleasant-smelling sweat – called the aprocrine sweat glands.

However, if bacteria are allowed to break down the sweat, it can start to smell unpleasant. Eating spicy food and drinking alcohol can also make sweat secreted from the eccrine smell.

This can be prevented or eased by following lifestyle advice, such as frequently using antiperspirant spray and using armpit shields to absorb sweat. See treating hyperhidrosis for more information.

Emotional impact

The emotional impact of living with hyperhidrosis can be severe. Many people with the condition feel unhappy and, in some cases, depressed. Signs that you may be depressed include:

  • feeling down, depressed, or hopeless during the past month
  • having little interest or pleasure in things during the past month

It is important not to neglect your mental health. Make an appointment to see your GP if you think that you may be depressed. 

Read more about depression or find out more about tackling stress, anxiety and depression.

Page last reviewed: 06/01/2015

Next review due: 06/01/2017