International Hyperhidrosis Society Statement on Airport Behavior Screenings: 'Excessive Sweating' Not Necessarily a Warning Sign of Criminal Activity

Jan 15, 2010, 10:37 ET from International Hyperhidrosis Society

QUAKERTOWN, Pa., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  Does excessive sweating at the airport make you a potential terrorist? Last week's news that more airports are considering training officials to examine a passenger's body language and behavior in an attempt to help identify potential threats is welcome news that will help strengthen travel safety measures. However, including 'excessive sweating' as a warning sign of potential criminal activity may add to the confusion instead of enhancing security efforts. Deeper insight into this telltale sign is needed and the International Hyperhidrosis Society can help.

While excessive sweating can be a sign of nervousness, it can also be the symptom of a rare but debilitating dermatologic condition known as hyperhidrosis. Nearly 176 million people worldwide (approximately 3% of the population) suffer from this disorder, which causes their bodies to secrete up to 5 times the amount of sweat that is normal or necessary for thermoregulation. People with hyperhidrosis sweat profusely nearly all day, every day. This usually occurs in focal areas such as the armpits, hands, feet and face. Excessive sweating over large areas of the body usually indicates a secondary underlying medical condition such as diabetes or tuberculosis, or a side effect of some anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications.

"While security is always the utmost concern and the highest priority, we need to exercise common sense and reasonable caution in translating the nuances of 'warning signs,'" says Dr. David Pariser, president of the world-renowned American Academy of Dermatology and founding board member of IHHS. "This will only enhance security and intelligence instead of weaken it. We don't want the bad guys getting away because we're focused on a sweaty grandma or child."

Hyperhidrosis has long been misunderstood and stigmatized as a byproduct of improper hygiene or related to psychological issues. The good news is that medical help is easily attainable and often covered by insurance. The IHHS website provides education, support and medical resources to affected children, teens and adults worldwide. The site's Physician Finder database helps individuals locate doctors familiar with hyperhidrosis and trained by the IHHS on treatment methods.

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David Pariser

SOURCE International Hyperhidrosis Society