For those not suffering from hyperhidrosis, it can be hard to fully understand what it is like. Most people can probably relate to embarrassing underarm sweat stains, smelly feet when taking the shoes off and wet palms when shaking someone’s hand. Hyperhidrosis however, has a much broader impact on the everyday life than that.
Time and time again studies have shown that hyperhidrosis is perceived to limit both personal and professional life to such a degree that it also significantly impacts quality of life. A recent study* from the UK for instance showed the following results:
- For 20 % excessive sweating makes it hard to use technical devices and tools, like touchscreens.
- A majority of the sufferers (61 %) adapt their clothing to the hyperhidrosis, in terms of materials, colors and perhaps even an extra set of clothes to be able to change if needed.
- Hyperhidrosis also affects the choice of hobbies, for about 41 % of the sufferers, for instance by making it hard to read books without soaking the pages and since they often try to avoid physical activities in the company of others.
- Almost 7 out of 10 experience emotional effects from the hyperhidrosis, like anxiety and shame relating to other people noticing the sweating etc. or even sorrow, anger and hopelessness linking to them specifically being hit by hyperhidrosis.
- Most suffers state that the sweating negatively impacts their self confidence and self-esteem and many consider themselves less attractive as partners due to the hyperhidrosis.
- To appear in public and be the center of attention is a real challenge for 75 % of the sufferers, leading them to avoid social gatherings, shared office spaces, restaurants etc.
- Most sufferers avoid physical contact, especially with people they do not know. They avoid shaking hands, queuing, dancing etc., but sometimes also to hand over something like small change due to the risk of touching the other person’s hand. Unfortunately, hyperhidrosis can also limit the physical and intimate contact in close relationships.
- More than 40 % link the sweating to other forms of physical discomfort, especially linked to walking around in wet clothes and shoes on a daily basis. As a result of this, many also experienced other problems like eczema, or recurrent fungal infections.
- As much as one third stated to have chosen their occupation with hyperhidrosis in mind, since it may limit the ability to handle tools and equipment or cause problems in social situations such as customer meetings or patient consultations etc.
- In addition, 63 % experienced interference in the performance of their tasks, at school or at work, from the hyperhidrosis – something a majority actually considered to be the most important effect of the condition.
There is no doubt that hyperhidrosis constitutes a more far-reaching problem than just the slight embarrassment of sweat stains etc. It often has a highly significant impact on all aspects of life, from planning and coping with everyday life, to choosing occupation and hobbies as well as socially interacting with others. Notwithstanding, it is well-known that many never actively seek help and support – maybe because they do not think there is any help available or due to negative experience from the health care service where the problem might not have been taken seriously. Even health care professionals can find it hard to relate to hyperhidrosis and fully understand and address the problem.
*Kamudoni et al. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes (2017) 15:121