Hyperhidrosis is a common condition where a person sweats excessively, and much more than the body needs to regulate its temperature.

Excessive sweating doesn't usually pose a serious threat to a person’s health, but it can be embarrassing and distressing. The inconvenience of it can also have a negative impact on your quality of life.

There is no set way of defining excessive sweating, but if sweating is interfering with your daily life and normal activities, you may have hyperhidrosis. Read more about the symptoms of hyperhidrosis.

Many people with the condition are too embarrassed to seek medical help or believe that nothing can be done to improve their symptoms. However, there is help available. 

When to see your GP

Visit your GP if you feel that your sweating is interfering with your daily activities.

If you suddenly start sweating excessively, visit your GP so that the cause of your sweating can be investigated.

Also visit your GP if you are having night sweats, because it can sometimes be a sign of something more serious.


Excessive sweating can be challenging to treat and it may take a while to find a treatment right for you. 

Doctors usually recommend starting with the least invasive treatment, such as anti-perspirants. If this doesn’t work, you’ll move on to treatments such as medication to block the sweat glands and surgery.

Most people experience a significant improvement to their symptoms with time. 

Read more about treating hyperhidrosis.

Types of hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis can either:

  • only affect certain parts of the body, most commonly the armpits, hands, feet or face; this is known as focal hyperhidrosis
  • affect the entire body, known as generalised hyperhidrosis

Most cases of generalised hyperhidrosis have an underlying cause, such as:

  • it can be a side effect of taking medication
  • it can be related to another condition, such as an overactive thyroid gland

Doctors may refer to this as secondary hyperhidrosis.

Most cases of focal hyperhidrosis have no obvious cause, although many experts believe that problems with the nervous system may be responsible. Doctors sometimes refer to this as primary hyperhidrosis.

Read more about the causes of hyperhidrosis.

Who is affected?

Hyperhidrosis is a common condition. It is thought that there are currently over one million people in England affected by it. 

Primary hyperhidrosis usually begins during childhood and gets worse after puberty. Men and women are equally affected by the condition.

Secondary hyperhidrosis can begin at any age.

Hyperhidrosis can be a very upsetting condition and it can sometimes be debilitating. People with the condition may experience feelings of depression and anxiety

Read more about the complications of hyperhidrosis


Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. In this video, find out what causes it and the treatments available. Part of a series on embarrassing conditions.

Media last reviewed: 30/04/2013

Next review due: 30/04/2015

Embarrassing conditions

Self care tips for treating embarrassing conditions, including bad breath, flatulence, smelly feet, piles and sweating

Page last reviewed: 10/01/2013

Next review due: 10/01/2015