Excessive sweating is not inevitable

Laurent Misery, head of dermatology department at CHU Brest, specialist in the skin-brain link, explains the reasons for excessive sweating and treatments possible.

Fabienne Broucaret

Psychologies: How to explain excessive sweating?

Laurent Misery: First of all, it is normal to sweat when it's hot, when you make an effort or when you're stressed. Sweating may be considered really excessive when sweat drops are formed or when sweating occurs without any particular cause. Neuromediators then play a major role because sweating is totally dependent on the nervous system, specifically the sympathetic nervous system. In response to a message, heat and anxiety essentially, the nervous system induces sweating or even sweating, which is also called hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating thus reveals an hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, very often linked to an anxiety state. So you have to look for an underlying anxiety, but you do not always find it. Sometimes it can also be an immaturity of this system, that's why this problem is common among teenagers.

What treatments are offered today in case of hypersudation?

Some treatments specifically affect the sweat glands: topically applied skin products containing aluminum salts and iontophoresis, a technique that uses a weak electric current to penetrate the skin. Other treatments affect the nervous system: botulinum toxin, known to be used elsewhere against wrinkles, or surgical cutting of the affected nerve branches, now by endoscopy to limit scarring. It is necessary to progressively pass these four stages, leaving each time several months to judge efficiency. If there is an anxiety state, it is better to consider relaxation or behavioral therapy than anxiolytics, which should only be used temporarily.


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