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Real sweating in a virtual stress environment: Investigation of the stress reactivity in people with primary focal hyperhidrosis

  • Background: Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating, OMIM %114110) is a complex disorder with multifactorial causes. Emotional strains and social stress increase symptoms and lead to a vicious circle. Previously, we showed significantly higher depression scores, and normal cortisol awakening responses in patients with primary focal hyperhidrosis (PFH). Stress reactivity in response to a (virtual) Trier Social Stress Test (TSST-VR) has not been studied so far. Therefore, we measured sweat secretion, salivary cortisol and alpha amylase (sAA) concentrations, and subjective stress ratings in affected and non-affected subjects in response to a TSST-VR. Method: In this pilot study, we conducted TSST-VRs and performed general linear models with repeated measurements for salivary cortisol and sAA levels, heart rate, axillary sweat and subjective stress ratings for two groups (diagnosed PFH (n = 11), healthy controls (n = 16)). Results: PFH patients showed significantly heightened sweat secretion over time compared to controls (p = 0.006), with highest quantities during the TSST-VR. In both groups, sweating (p < 0.001), maximum cortisol levels (p = 0.002), feelings of stress (p < 0.001), and heart rate (p < 0.001) but not sAA (p = 0.068) increased significantly in response to the TSST-VR. However, no differences were detected in subjective ratings, cortisol concentrations and heart rate between PFH patients and controls (pall > 0.131). Conclusion: Patients with diagnosed PFH showed stress-induced higher sweat secretion compared to healthy controls but did not differ in the stress reactivity with regard to endocrine or subjective markers. This pilot study is in need of replication to elucidate the role of the sympathetic nervous system as a potential pathway involved in the stress-induced emotional sweating of PFH patients.

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Author:Andrea B. Schote, Katharina Dietrich, Adrian E. Linden, Inga Dzionsko, Laura De Los Angeles Molano Moreno, Ulrike Winnikes, Patrick Zimme, Gregor Domes, Jobst Meyer
Parent Title (English):PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Place of publication:San Francisco
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2022/08/02
Date of publication:2022/08/02
Publishing institution:Universit├Ąt Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universit├Ąt Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2023/05/12
GND Keyword:Hyperhidrose; Schwitzen; Stress; Virtuelle Umgebung
Volume (for the year ...):2022
Issue / no.:Band 17, Heft 8 (2022)
Number of pages:19
Institutes:Fachbereich 6
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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