Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating beyond physiologic sweating which results in profuse sweating of the palms, underarms (axillae), feet (plantar) and face. It is of unknown etiology and afflicts in one form or another, 3% of the population.
What is known about hyperhidrosis is that it causes severe occupational, emotional and social distress.
Patients describe hyperhidrosis of the palms as so debilitating that it interferes with their social interaction with others. They cannot shake hands with others for fear of "sweating" and "turning off" business acquaintances or friends, social friends and sexual mates. The simple prospect of someone extending a hand for a handshake causes more emotional stress, indeed making the hyperhidrosis worse.
Others complain of sweating in the face and scalp, or simply "blushing" excessively. This response is quick in onset and last minutes. Often, patients remark that they feel the "blushing" and it bothers them very much, making a social interaction quite disabling from an emotional standpoint.
In large reported series, 15% to as much of 50% of patients with hyperhidrosis have a family history of hyperhidrosis.