Sweating in Your DNA: Unraveling the Genetic Component of Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by excessive sweating. People with hyperhidrosis tend to sweat more than is considered normal, even when not physically exerting themselves. This condition can affect any part of the body, though it most commonly occurs on the face, head, underarms, hands, and feet.

Though it can often be successfully managed, excessive sweating may cause some to experience immense physical and psychological discomfort. If you have hyperhidrosis, you may wonder if it can be effectively prevented or if it is a genetic condition you cannot control. Either way, understanding more about hyperhidrosis can help you find the best way to manage it.

Here’s more about whether excessive sweating is genetic and how to request an appointment with the Hyperhidrosis Center at Thoracic Group if you need treatment for this condition.

How Common Is Hyperhidrosis?

According to a 2016 study published in Archives of Dermatological Research, hyperhidrosis affects an estimated 15.3 million people in the United States, representing about 4.8% of the population. Of those individuals, 70% said they sweat excessively in at least one area of the body.

The researchers who led the study added that only 51% of people with hyperhidrosis discussed the condition with their doctors. This fact indicates that hyperhidrosis may affect far more people than suspected and that many cases in the U.S. remain undiagnosed.

Causes of Hyperhidrosis

There are two types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.

Primary focal hyperhidrosis usually begins in childhood. This type of hyperhidrosis is shown to be genetic and runs in families. An underlying health condition does not cause it and is not a side effect caused by medication use.

Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, can be caused by another health condition or occur as a side effect of a medication. Diabetes, menopause, and cancer are some of the many health conditions that may cause this type of hyperhidrosis. Medications that can cause secondary generalized hyperhidrosis include antidepressants, asthma inhalers, and drugs used to treat herpes, chickenpox, and dry mouth.

Is Hyperhidrosis Genetic?

Yes, hyperhidrosis is believed to have a genetic link especially when it is not caused by a medication or underlying health condition. Studies conducted over the last several years show a definite correlation between hyperhidrosis and genetics:

  • In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Dermatology, researchers learned that 36% of patients with palmoplantar hyperhidrosis (sweating that affects the hands and feet) had a family history of this condition.
  • In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, researchers found that more than 34% of patients with hyperhidrosis had relatives who also had this condition.
  • In a 2015 study published in a journal by the Brazilian Society of Dermatology, researchers confirmed that 45% of people with this condition had a family history of hyperhidrosis.

In more recent years, researchers have been able to identify the exact genes, or genotypes, that are linked to hyperhidrosis. Genetic testing may reveal whether you have issues with these genes and whether hyperhidrosis runs in your family. Regardless of whether your condition is genetic or not, many effective treatments can help you find relief from your symptoms.

Hyperhidrosis is only genetic if primary focal hyperhidrosis runs in your family. You may not get hyperhidrosis if someone in your family has the condition due to using a certain medication or having a related condition, such as diabetes.

Who Treats Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is often treated by a specialized dermatologist who can administer certain medical and non-surgical treatments. A thoracic surgeon specialist treats hyperhidrosis with both nonsurgical and surgical methods. The method of treatment depends on the severity of your sweating, the body part or parts affected and how it affects your overall livelihood.

Hyperhidrosis treatments include:

Certain treatments may work better than others based on the parts of your body that are producing the highest amount of sweat. For instance, the ETS procedure targets primary palmar hyperhidrosis, resulting in immediate and permanent relief for excessively sweating palms. In contrast, miraDry® may work better if your sweating primarily occurs in the underarms.

A hyperhidrosis specialist can work with you to find the best treatment based on where you sweat the most.

Contact the Hyperhidrosis Center at Thoracic Group at (732) 398-5099 to request an appointment if you think you may have hyperhidrosis. Our experienced physicians will work with you to find a treatment that helps you meet your goals.