Hyperhidrosis Prevalence is More Common than Scientists Thought

If you are suffering or know someone who suffers from hyperhidrosis, you are well aware of the detrimental impact that it has on a person’s physical, social and mental well-being. This silent disability affects the quality of life of millions. However, a new study shows that hyperhidrosis is a lot more common than previously thought. Researchers have found evidence that proves that hyperhidrosis is more prevalent and socially crippling than previously anticipated.

A new study published in Dermatological Research Archives shows that excessive sweating is more debilitating, severe and prevalent than previous studies reported. The study by Burke Healthcare and Brickell Biotech was conducted to investigate hyperhidrosis in a larger sample of people.


Study findings

Researchers conducted an online survey with over 8,000 participants who answered queries on excessive sweating and the impact that it had on their quality of life. Some of the notable findings include:

  1. An estimated 15.3 million or 4.8% of Americans suffer from severe hyperhidrosis. Compared to the previous 2004 study that was at 2.8, the numbers seem to have almost doubled.
  2. A further 75 percent of those with hyperhidrosis responded that it had a detrimental effect on their quality of life. Most of them stated that their mental, emotional and social well-being is affected by the condition.
  3. Furthermore, over 50 percent of those who seek medical attention do not receive any valuable diagnosis. As a result, million are suffering without any medical treatment.
  4. Around 35 percent stated that hyperhidrosis had robbed them of important things like jobs and spouses.
  5. Approximately 70-85 percent of them have experienced anxiety and embarrassment due to excessive sweating.

There are multiple studies that confirm the results by Burke Healthcare and Brickell Biotech. A JAAD study has shown a strong link between excessive sweating, anxiety and depression. Based on a sample of 2,000 participants, the study showed that 27 percent of hyperhidrosis sufferers had some form of depression. A further 21 percent suffered from chronic anxiety.


What does this mean?

The new information is a wake-up call to the medical community. The number of people suffering is not only astounding but also worrying. First, it seems to show that some physicians are unable to diagnose hyperhidrosis. If 50 percent of patients are not receiving treatment, despite seeking medical attention, the diagnosis process needs to be improved.

Second, the doubling of the prevalence figures seems to show that more people are suffering from hyperhidrosis. A prediction based on the figures indicates that the figure may reach nine percent in the next 15 years. In order to reduce these figures, dermatologists should start prescribing permanent treatments to patients.

Finally, the connection between excessive sweating and mental health is an area that modern treatment does not seem to address. Patients need treatment and counseling. Treatment alone will not restore confidence or cure depression.

The two studies show that excessive sweating is not only more prevalent, but it is also more debilitating than previous studies showed. The dermatological community needs to combine efforts to reduce the unnecessary suffering of millions. The first step is effective diagnosis by physicians followed by prescribing the right treatment. The pharmaceutical community needs to come up with better treatments or improve existing treatments. They should be more accessible and affordable to those living with the condition.

Dr. Gary C. Anderson M.D is a Surgeon who specializes in the treatment of hyperhidrosis. During the past 20 years, he has performed over 2000 sympathectomy procedures on patients with sweating of the underarms, hands, face, scalp or blushing.