LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 10am

Hyperhidrosis: A Human Sweat Machine

Hyperhidrosis is a clinical condition which a person sweats excessively on certain parts of the body, mainly on the palm of the hands. Pic: is a clinical condition which a person sweats excessively on certain parts of the body, mainly on the palm of the hands. Pic:’s the same kind of reaction on that someone’s face whenever Iskandar (not his real name) shakes hands with somebody due to his overly sweaty palm. 

Iskandar thought it was just a normal sweaty situation that most people would have and always carries a handkerchief with him to wipe it out, but things got worse; he needed to bring a piece of a paper along as he would wet his examination paper so badly that it bugs his mind.

“It was a difficult situation for me as my palms would spread sweat a lot and I can sprinkle sweat like it was a water pipe!” shared Iskandar.

He also faced difficulty getting his thumbprints read when doing a transaction in the bank as his sweaty fingers made the thumbprint hard to detect.

“I wasn’t comfortable with myself. I sweat everywhere on my hands and feet and it gives me body odor.”

“Imagine having a salty taste whenever you eat rice; it was to that extent and I have to use a fork and spoon to eat,” he said.

It wasn’t until his university days where during a trip to the doctor for a normal fever treatment, the doctor noticed his sweaty hands.

He told him that he had been diagnosed with a chronic sweating condition, which made Iskandar realize the problem that he had all this time had a name - hyperhidrosis.

Dr. Khoo said excessive sweating can cause psychological, social and professional disability at working environment. Pic: mDDr. Khoo said excessive sweating can cause psychological, social and professional disability at working environment. Pic: mDWhat is Hyperhidrosis?

According to Dr. David Khoo Sin Keat, Consultant Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon in iHeal Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, it is a clinical diagnosis in which a person sweats excessively on certain parts of the body, usually on the palm of the hands, armpits, feet, head and also the groin area. 

“It is due to an odd activity of the nerve system called sympathetic nervous system where the nerves controls sweating, adrenaline rush, anxiety and your heartbeat,” 

“Among the difficulties that they face in their daily lives are having problem in shaking hands, writing and body odor that can cause embarrassments. It doesn’t give a good image and confidence level to them,” said Dr. Khoo.

The primary symptoms of hyperhidrosis is wetness and among the causes are to the stress levels; the more they think about it, the more wet or worst the sweat can be, as Dr. Khoo explained. 

Weather-wise, it also contributes to excessive sweating, no matter during hot weather  or cold weather,  the person will still sweats and it is a major problem. 

“It causes psychological, social and professional disability at your working enviroment. For example, some jobs where sweating excessively can be hazardous like being an electrician, surgeon or a chef will face difficulties in doing their respective jobs,” 

Although there are no listings of famous people who suffer from hyperhidrosis, there are a number of celebrities that were photographed with excessive sweating mainly on their armpits and neck like pro-Tennis player, Serena Williams to actors such as Halle Berry, Robert Pattinson, Cameron Diaz and Meg Ryan.  

Locally, there isn’t as much awareness of this medical condition compared to other illnesses but due to our hot and humid weather there are enough sufferers of this condition that you can find various organizations like the Malaysian Hyperhidrosis Society  and local websites like the and that offer support. 

Among the famous people who were photographed with excessive sweating. Pic: stopsweatingstartliving.tumblr.comAmong the famous people who were photographed with excessive sweating. Pic:

Is it a genetic disorder?

Hyperhidrosis is more towards a biological problem and it is not considered as being a genetic condition. 

“It has nothing to do with genetic inheritance, but there are times where one or two members in a family will have hyperhidrosis. It is there from birth, but are not manifest until they are grown up,”

There is not much research done about the origins of excessive sweating as the focus is mainly on how it can affect our lives. 

Affects of Hyperhidrosis

The seriousness of hyperhidrosis depends on whether it affect your life, as it doesn’t have stages of sweating and is only considered serious if the person feels it gives him or her a burden in running their daily activities, according to Dr. Khoo.

It does cause a lot of impact on the person suffering from hyperhidrosis; they can become anti-social, less confident, they tend to stress out more and feel ashamed of it. 

“There are one patient of mine, who’s in his 30s and still single. He felt very depressed from his excessive sweating that he even considered committing suicide. So it does create a lot of impact for those who suffer,” shared Dr. Khoo.

Iontophoresis is one option to treat hyperhidrosis. Pic: is one option to treat hyperhidrosis. Pic: can it be treated?

There are few options of treatment over the years that are available to treat people with hyperhidrosis. 

Dr. Khoo suggested Iontophoresis treatment; a technique which uses water to conduct a mild electrical current through the hand’s surface. The electric current and mineral atoms in the water act together to microscopically thicken the outer layer of the skin

It has no significant side effects and the drying results do not decrease with long-term use. 

Patients can also try the Botox treatment, which requires injection into the skin. However, this is effective in treating small areas and over 50 injections are needed per palm in every 6 months which can be quite costly in the long run.

The best treatment that Dr. Khoo recommends to treat hyperhidrosis is the Thoracoscopic Sympathicotomy treatment, which is an operation procedure on the nerve system.

Dr. Khoo, who started this procedure since 2001, has done over 1000 operation on his patients. 

“The sweat nerve is in the chest, so the operation will be done on the chest. On the third level of the nerve, which goes to the hand, two 5mm incisions are made on each side of the chest to allow a small camera to go inside to visualize the sympathetic chains,”

“The nerve will be clipped using titanium clips at the thoracic vertebra. Within 15 minutes, the operation will be done and can result in an immediate cure,” as the procedure being explained by Dr. Khoo.

The side effects of it is that while it stops sweating on the palm of the hands, the sweat will focus more on the back of the body, which is tolerable for his patients rather than having wet hands all the times.

Dr. Khoo explaining how the Thoracoscopic Sympathicotomy procedure works. Pic: mDDr. Khoo explaining how the Thoracoscopic Sympathicotomy procedure works. Pic: mDIt takes cost to frost 

Iskandar decided to take the procedure and did the Sympathicotomy operation and has his life change by 360 degree. 

He is more confident with himself and does not have any more worries of sweaty palms or odor and advise people who have hyperhidrosis to seek professional help to understand this medical condition.

The treatment procedure can be done at iHeal Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur at the cost of RM 10,000 per package. 

“We want to reach out to more people as majority of the patients are young people, so money-wise it is very crucial for them. I even propose an interest free rate installment payment so they can afford to do the procedure for a better living,” 

“It’s a safe operation, scars are minimal, results are good and it only take a few minutes to get it done!” smiled Dr. Khoo. 





- mD