When you extend your hand to a new patient, and he reflexively wipes his palm before shaking hands, be alert. It’s possible you’re seeing primary hyperhidrosis, a condition that’s both more common and more disabling than once thought.
“Looking at the biology of sweating, normally, it’s a good thing – we need it to survive. However, hyperhidrosis is too much of a good thing – it’s an excess of what is needed for normal biology,” said Orlando Dermatology Aesthetic and Clinical Conference., speaking at the
Recent data, he pointed out, show that hyperhidrosis is more prevalent than previously thought – about 4.8% of individuals may have the condition, with about half having axillary hyperhidrosis. Symptoms peak in early adulthood, with adults aged 18-54 most affected. “These are the prime working years,” he said.
About 2% of teens are affected, and many adults report that symptoms began before they were 12 years old. Hand hyperhidrosis is a factor for computer and electronic device work, sports, and even handling paper and pencils, noted Dr. Friedman, professor of dermatology at George Washington University, Washington.
“Does it affect quality of life? Yes. We have data to support the impact. The adverse impact is actually greater than that of eczema and psoriasis,” he said, adding that patients won’t always bring up their concerns about sweating. “Often, it’s the patient who apologizes for having sweaty palms or who sticks to the paper on the exam table. It’s worth asking these patients if they are bothered by excessive sweating.”