Harvard Men's Health Watch

Excessive perspiration

Q. Compared to the problems your readers ask about, my issue may seem silly. But I hope you'll give me some advice, since it really is very annoying. I'm troubled by excessive sweating.

A. Although it's not a major illness, excessive sweating is far from trivial. In fact, it can be very embarrassing, and it can interfere with healthy interpersonal relationships. Call it by its medical name, hyperhidrosis, and your problem may get the respect it deserves.

Sweating itself is both normal and necessary. It's one of the body's two main ways of shedding the heat that is a byproduct of our metabolism; the other is the conduction of heat from the skin to the surrounding air. When the air is hot, it's hard to dissipate heat by conduction. When the air is humid, sweat won't evaporate, making heat loss by perspiration ineffective. So the discomfort of summer is not due to heat or humidity, but both.

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