Hyperhidrosis is a congenital condition of excessive inappropriate sweating for which there may be a family tendency. The excessive sweating may affect the entire body, or only specific areas, particularly the armpits, palms and soles. Sweaty feet may become smelly due to a secondary fungal or bacterial infection. It usually worsened with high temperatures, exercise, alcohol, eating (particularly spicy foods) and stress.
Blood tests may be performed to exclude any hormonal (e.g. menopause) or metabolic (e.g. overactive thyroid) cause for the problem.
Treatment involves antiperspirant sprays and lotions, absorbent powders under skin folds (eg. armpits, groin, breasts) and absorbent shoe insoles. In more severe cases propantheline tablets and diphemanil powder may be prescribed. Daily iontophoresis, which passes an electrical current across the skin to stop sweat production, may be used intermittently by doctors, or regularly by the patient. In very severe cases, the nerves that supply the sweat glands may be permanently destroyed, or the sweat glands in the armpits may be surgically removed. There is no cure, but treatments usually help to some extent.