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Hyperhidrosis is characterized by abnormal, excessive sweating that can occur in the hands, armpits and feet. For some, the abundant sweating is localized to one area, such as the hands, while others may experience increased sweating in a combination of areas.

Hyperhidrosis is rare, affecting about 1 percent of the population. However, for those affected, the condition often interferes with their daily activities and can be rather embarrassing in social situations. Although the exact cause of this excessive sweating remains unknown, we do know that it is commonly controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, which normally responds strongly in situations of fear or stress. It is not understood why patients with hyperhidrosis appear to have constant increased activity of this system.

Our Approach to Hyperhidrosis

UCSF offers effective, long-lasting treatments for hyperhidrosis. These include Botox injections and a minimally invasive surgery called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS), which blocks the excessive nerve activity leading to severe sweating. Our surgeons are experienced at performing ETS, and it’s highly successful for most patients.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.