Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating affects about 3% of the population. Unfortunately it does not spare our children. In fact, excessive sweating often begins in childhood and as many as half will have inherited the condition from a parent. As a parent it is important to determine whether the excessive sweating is inherent or caused by an underlying condition. There are essentially two types of hyperhidrosis: 1) primary or focal hyperhidrosis is limited to certain sites, typically hands, soles of the feet, underarms, and face. In and of itself focal hyperhidrosis is not worrisome except for the effect it can have on the child’s quality of life. 2) Secondary or generalized hyperhidrosis, as implied by its name affects a larger proportion of the body. Unlike focal hyperhidrosis it is not limited to the typical regions outlined above. It may however be caused by an underlying condition which needs to be diagnosed and treated accordingly.
In cases of focal hyperhidrosis, it is important to treat the excessive sweating as it can have significant effects on children from a psychological, social and behavioural perspective. The condition can make many simple activities more difficult to perform (e.g. writing). It can become outwardly evident to peers and cause significant embarrassment. As children work their way through the formative years it is critical that you provide the necessary support to help them cope with their condition.
Following are a few recommendations to help guide you through the process.
Open the lines of communication and listen to your child. This is a particular embarrassing situation for children, making it difficult for them to talk about their condition. They need someone to confide in and someone they trust to go forward with their problem.
Have a discussion with the people with which your child has relationships – for example, teachers, school principle, sports coaches, and daycare/childcare workers. The majority of individuals are…