Stigma Associated with Excessive Sweating - Hyperhidrosis


Is there a stigma associated with excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis? The answer is a definite yes, according to studies done at the Center for Excessive Sweating.

 As a matter of fact, it depends on the severity and location of hyperhidrosis or facial blushing. Facial blushing is a variant of excessive sweating where individuals turn beet red when embarassed or when anxious in social situtations. It is quite disabling and typically has adverse effects on the way individuals function in social situations or business encounters.

In a survey conducted at the Center for Less Invasive Cardiac Surgery and Robotic Heart Surgery at Kaleida Health, 50 consecutive patients were surveyed regarding this subject and found to have significant social phobias associated with having hyperhidrosis.

We found that the problems were most significant for palmar hyperhidrosis (of the hands) as it interfered with the most common form of initial interpersonal interaction, namely the handshake.

Next were patients who suffered from both facial blushing and palmar hyperhidrosis. The facial blushing seemed to have alerted the person itself of the problem during interaction with others, made them uncomfortable, and sometimes limited their initiative to go out and say hello to people in business or social situations.

Next most commonly stigmatized group were patients who had facial hyperhidrosis alone. These were the minority in terms of number as patients with facial blushing also typically have assciated palmar and axillary hyperhidrosis (of the underarms).

In summary, patients have different mechanisms to deal with hyperhidrosis in social situations. Most with axillary and palmar hyperhidrosis hide their hands under their arms, behind their backs or placed under their thighs to prevent the handshake. Many hide their hands in long sleeve shirts to cover the palms and have quick access to dry their hands before the mandatory handshake. Others will always have a cold drink in their hands and pretend that their hands were cold and clammy because the drink was in their hands.

In our study, defense mechanisms existed in over 92 % of studied patients.

The prototypical patient with facial blushing is Prince Harry, son of rincess Diana, who has red cheeks. Patients in my practice at the Center for Excessive Sweating that have these features, namely red cheeks, are extremely embarassed by it and seek treatment. 

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Article by
Buffalo Phlebologist