Excessive sweating: what are the most common causes? : Current Woman Le MAG

Excessive sweating can impact your quality of life. They can be localized or generalized. They most often appear in the armpits, soles of the feet and palms of the hands. The causes can be benign (weather, intense physical exertion, stress, etc.) or indicative of a more serious health problem (hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, etc.). Find out what are the most common causes of excessive sweating.

1. When do we talk about excessive sweating?

Sweating is a natural phenomenon, which helps maintain your body at a constant temperature of 37°C, eliminates toxins and protects your skin thanks to the hydrolipidic film it forms. Sweat is secreted by sweat glands, located in the deeper layers of the skin. If your body temperature rises, due to very hot weather or playing a sport for example, then your brain sends the order to your sweat glands, via the nervous system, to produce more sweat. When sweat is released through the pores of your skin, your body temperature decreases. Sweat is therefore essential for the proper functioning of the body. But when it is produced excessively, it can be indicative of a pathology and impact your quality of life. We then speak of hyperhidrosis or hypersweating. According to the Hyperhidrosis Observatory, this phenomenon would affect 2 million people in France. Excessive sweating is considered to occur when the quantity of sweat produced is greater than 0.5 l/day under normal conditions (nice weather, no intense physical activity).

2. The most common causes of localized sweats

Excessive sweating is often localized on your hands, the soles of your feet or under your armpits. In such cases, no real underlying cause has been identified, but rather contributing factors. These factors are intense physical exertion, a spicy diet, alcohol consumption, high external temperatures or even stress. Finally, a hereditary parameter could intervene, as well as a dysfunction of the nervous system.

3. The causes of generalized hypersweating

If you suffer from generalized excessive sweating, there are various causes:

  • In the event of a transient episode of hypersweating: it can result from an anxiety attack (panic attack), a viral infection (flu, etc.) or accompany a myocardial infarction or even vagal discomfort.
  • In case of prolonged excessive sweating: this may be due to menopause (hot flashes), intense chronic stress or even being overweight. This excessive sweating can also be caused by taking certain medications, such as antidepressants. But it can also be indicative of more serious pathologies, such as cancer (lymphomas, etc.), a serious infectious disease (tuberculosis), a neurodegenerative pathology (Parkinson’s disease) or even hyperthyroidism.


  • Hyperhidrosis, The MSD Manual – Consumer Version, April 2022
  • Sweating, Youth health thread, October 23, 2021
  • French resource site for information on excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), Hyperhidrosis Observatory

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