New estimates published in the peer-reviewed journal Archives of Dermatological Researchreveal a substantially higher prevalence of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) among Americans than previously reported. The new data indicate that approximately 15.3 million people in the United States, or 4.8% of the population, have hyperhidrosis; of these, 70% report severe excessive sweating in at least one body area, the most common area being the underarms. Alarmingly, 49% have not discussed their condition with a healthcare professional either because they believe that hyperhidrosis is not a medical condition or that no treatment options exist.
“The results of this study are significant because it shows that the number of people in the U.S. who are living with this debilitating condition is nearly double previous estimates,” said Patricia Walker, MD, PhD, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Brickell Biotech, and one of the authors of the study, conducted in collaboration with Burke Healthcare. "Not only is the prevalence much higher than previously thought, but there is a clear and urgent need for greater awareness of hyperhidrosis and its treatment options among medical professionals and those living with the condition.”
Hyperhidrosis is a skin disorder characterized by sweating in excess of what is needed to regulate normal body temperature. Hyperhidrosis can range in severity from mild dampness to severe dripping and can result in substantial impairment of an individual’s quality of life. This includes limitations in work and social relationships, physical and leisure activities, and impairments in emotional and mental health. The negative impact caused by excessive sweating has been reported to be similar to, if not greater than, the negative impact caused by conditions such as psoriasis and other chronic diseases.
“People living with hyperhidrosis must not only live with its very visible symptoms but they also have to deal with the anxiety and social stigma associated with excessive sweating, which can be debilitating to their daily lives” said Lisa J. Pieretti, Co-Founder and Executive Director, International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS). “It’s time that the broader medical community learn more about hyperhidrosis so that they can properly diagnose it and then help their patients manage the symptoms.”
New Prevalence Figures Nearly Double Earlier Estimates
The most commonly cited study of the prevalence of primary hyperhidrosis is based on a 2004 survey1 mailed to 150,000 U.S. households. That study estimated that 2.8% of the U.S. population has primary hyperhidrosis, with the highest prevalence rates among those 25 to 64 years old (3.5%-4.5%) and lowest among those younger than 12 years old (0.5%-0.7%).
This new study increases the U.S. prevalence estimate significantly and brings it closer to estimates of primary hyperhidrosis in other countries, ranging from 4.6% in Germany, 5.5% in Sweden, 12.3% in Vancouver, Canada, 12.8% in Japan, and 14.5% in Shanghai, China2. The new data also indicate the prevalence rate in the U.S. is highest among 18 to 39 year olds (8.8%) and lowest among adults 65+ years old and children/adolescents (2.1%).
Negative Impact on Quality of Life
Hyperhidrosis has a significant negative impact on the lives of those with the condition. About 75% of respondents report that excessive sweating has had at least some negative impact on their social life, sense of wellbeing, emotional health and mental health.
Eighty-five percent of respondents agree that excessive sweating is embarrassing, and 71% report that the condition has caused them to experience anxiety. Furthermore, 35% state that they have had to sacrifice many important things in their life because of the condition.
“Hyperhidrosis impacts all aspects of your life – from holding hands with a loved one to using the touch screen on your cell phone to taking an exercise class with other people. When you’re worried about hiding your sweating, you limit your experiences and you aren’t getting the joy out of life,” said Sophie Wastler, a business owner who has been living with hyperhidrosis since she was in elementary school. “I waited a long time before I spoke to a doctor about my condition and, once I did, I realized I wasn’t alone.”
The study found that 49% of hyperhidrosis sufferers have not discussed their condition with a healthcare professional (HCP). The most commonly cited reasons that individuals do not discuss their condition with an HCP is that they do not think it is a medical condition (60%), or that they believe that there is nothing that can be done to treat their excessive sweating (47%). Of those who do see an HCP about their excessive sweating, only 53% are diagnosed (43% of adults, 73% of children/adolescents).
Limitations of Current Treatments
Current treatments for hyperhidrosis all vary in their ability to reduce the severity of the condition, as well as the duration of effect, side effects, ease of use, and cost. These treatments include topical agents (e.g., topical aluminum chloride hexahydrate), oral therapies (e.g., anticholinergics), injectable therapies (e.g., botulinum toxin type A), iontophoresis (i.e., mild electrical current through water), microwave thermolysis, and surgical interventions (e.g., endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy).
Additional treatment methods that are under development include topical and oral anticholinergics, new versions of laser therapy and micro-focused ultrasound treatment.
“People with excessive sweating should absolutely speak with their primary care doctor or a dermatologist about their condition; no one should suffer alone,” said David Pariser, MD, Co-Founder and Board Member of the IHHS and a world-renowned expert in hyperhidrosis. “There’s a great deal of exciting research in hyperhidrosis treatment right now and I believe that patients will have more safe, effective and convenient treatment options available to them in the coming years.”
A total of 275,904 invitations were sent via email for a self-administered online survey. A total of 12,363 people entered the survey (response rate 4.5%), with 8,160 people providing information as to whether or not they experience hyperhidrosis. The sample sources were two online panel providers, which both consist of nationally representative samples of U.S. households. The current study’s sample was balanced to represent U.S. census parameters. Children under the age of 18 reported as having hyperhidrosis were included in the prevalence estimate.
The survey included questions designed to identify individuals with hyperhidrosis, irrespective of whether they have received a medical diagnosis. For the purposes of this study, hyperhidrosis was defined as “a condition that involves chronic excessive sweating of the underarms, hands, feet, face, groin or other bodily areas that is much more than what is normal, and occurs regardless of temperature, exercise or situation and may have an impact on quality of life.”
A subset of the participants identified as having hyperhidrosis were asked more specific questions about their experiences with the condition. A total of 393 (210 female, 244 non-Hispanic white, 27 black, mean age = 40.3, SE = 0.64) participants completed the more detailed survey (305 adults answering for themselves and 88 parents answering on behalf of their child with hyperhidrosis). In addition, the IHHS was enlisted to help recruit parents of children with the condition. Comparisons of ratings between parents of children obtained from the online panels and from the IHHS were compared and no meaningful differences in responses were evidenced.
About Brickell Biotech
Brickell Biotech, Inc. is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative and differentiated therapeutics for the treatment of skin diseases. Its pipeline consists of five product candidates, including potential novel therapeutics for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, acne and psoriasis. Brickell’s management team and board of directors have extensive experience in product development, having served in leadership roles at several pharmaceutical and successful start-up companies. Its strategy is to leverage this experience to in-license, acquire, develop and commercialize products that Brickell believes can be successful in the dermatology marketplace. For more information, visit www.brickellbio.com.
About Burke Healthcare
Burke Healthcare has the breadth of experience, depth of knowledge and the analytical expertise to help our clients master the challenges of today and unlock the fundamental insights of tomorrow. Our expertise spans across all areas of an interconnected healthcare industry including specialty pharmaceuticals, patient advocacy, retail healthcare, medical devices and diagnostics, health insurance and managed markets, consumer healthcare, and healthcare distribution and technology. For more information, visit www.burkehealthcare.com.
About the International Hyperhidrosis Society
Founded in 2003 by an elite team of world-respected physicians and experts in hyperhidrosis research, the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS) is the only independent, non-profit, global organization that strives to improve quality of life among those affected by excessive sweating. The IHHS knows no boundaries; it is composed of people from all over the world, making it a true global network of understanding, advocacy, information, and resources. They are a registered 501(c)3 charity.
Their mission is to reduce the symptoms, anxiety, and social stigma associated with excessive sweating by improving the information, support, and treatment available to the millions of children, teens, and adults affected by hyperhidrosis worldwide. As part of their mission, we promote hyperhidrosis research, educate healthcare professionals in optimal hyperhidrosis diagnosis and management, raise awareness about the condition's emotional and economic impacts, and advocate for improved patient access to effective treatments, all while also increasing public understanding of this debilitating medical condition. Connect with the IHHS via their ever-evolving website, www.SweatHelp.org.
|1||Strutton DR, Kowalski JW, Glaser DA, Stang PE (2004) US prevalence of hyperhidrosis and impact on individuals with axillary hyperhidrosis: results from a national survey. J Am Acad Dermatol 51:241-248.|
|2||Augustin M, Radtke MA, Herberger K, Kornek T, Heigel H, Schaefer I (2013) Prevalence and disease burden of hyperhidrosis in the adult population. Dermatology 227: 10-13.|
|Fujimoto T, Kawahara K, Yokozeki H. (2013) Epidemiological study and considerations of primary focal hyperhidrosis in Japan: From questionnaire analysis. J Dermatol 40: 886-890.|
Liu Y, Bahar R, Kalia S, Huang RY, Phillips A, et al (2016) Hyperhidrosis prevalence and demographical characteristics in dermatology outpatients in Shanghai and Vancouver. PLoS One 11: e0153719.
Shayesteh A, Janlert U, Brulin C, Boman J, Nylander E (2016) Prevalence and characteristics of hyperhidrosis in Sweden: A cross-sectional study in the general population. Dermatology DOI:10.1159/000448032.
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Last updated on: 19/10/2016
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