The excessive and uncontrollable problem of sweating palms or hands is called palmar hyperhidrosis. It’s a medical condition that’s not only embarrassing but can cause extreme stress and lack of confidence. With this condition, one must deal with wet or slippery handshakes and ruined paperwork; it can affect how you relate socially and in your career.
According to a study, sweating palms are not merely a cosmetic inconvenience. It’s a serious medical condition that’s disabling. It affects a patient’s daily activities, their work productivity, personal relationships and emotional well-being.
Palmar hyperhidrosis victims are reluctant to touch loved ones or shake hands. They also have difficulty holding things, gripping equipment and sometimes they soil electronic devices. Writing and counting cash also becomes difficult.
Sweaty palms symptoms
The symptoms vary from one sufferer to another. There are also trigger factors that should be avoided.
- Perspiration: This varies from mild clamminess to severe perspiration that leads to dripping sweat.
- Temperature differences: Sweaty hands have a different temperature than other parts of the body
- Peeling of skin
- Sometimes profuse perspiration is followed by extreme dryness periods.
What causes it?
The hands contain a high concentration of eccrine sweat glands. These are connected to our nervous system which kicks in when we get stressed.
There are two types of hyperhidrosis: the primary focal and secondary generalized.
Primary palmar hyperhidrosis
Primary means that no obvious cause is identified. Hereditary predispositions may be the cause. Those affected are healthy and may get excessive perspiration on other locations such as armpits, feet, and face.
This kind of profuse or excessive sweating is triggered by emotional causes like nervousness, anger, anxiety, and fear. These reactions cause the sympathetic nervous system to get overactive.
Perspiration reduces when one sleeps in this case.
Secondary palmar hyperhidrosis
In this case, an underlying cause can be identified. Some of these include:
- Parkinson’s disease
Treatment and cure for sweaty palms
Those with this problem can improve their way of life by seeking out treatment. Some of the treatment options available are:
Antiperspirants are your first defense. They are non-invasive, applied on the skin and available in different strengths. You can purchase them either over the counter or get prescription antiperspirants from a dermatologist.
To optimize the effectiveness of the antiperspirants and minimize any irritation:
- Apply at night before you go to bed on clean hands.
- Apply on dry skin
- Do not wrap your hands when they have antiperspirants on them. This causes irritation.
If the antiperspirants do not cure your sweaty palms, iontophoresis is your next best option. Its success rate is impressive especially if used correctly and with the right device. This is according to a published study done on the effect of treating sweaty palms with iontophoresis.
Iontophoresis can be done at home or at the doctor’s office. The physician will use a medical device that uses pans of water to conduct mild electric current through the surface of the skin.
Physicians believe that the mineral particles in the water and the electric current microscopically thicken the skins outer layer. This blocks the sweat flow to the surface of the skin. Once blocked, sweat production is turned off.
Another safe treatment is Botox. A medical professional will inject the Botox into your palms which reduces sweating dramatically. The effects of this can last up to 6 months although the injections may be painful.
Medical professionals, however, have discovered a way to reduce the pain by using a simple vibration or icing technique. Be careful though since discomforts during injections can cause drawbacks for the Botox treatment.
There are oral medications available to cure sweaty palms. Oxybutynin and propantheline bromide are anticholinergic tablets one can take. This, however, has side effects including dry mouth, constipation, and drowsiness.
Other medications include oral glycopyrrolate, clonazepam, propranolol, and gabapentin. This, however, provides relief only for few days or weeks.
Surgery: Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS)
This should be considered only as a last resort. There are significant risks associated with ETS especially a compensatory sweating side effect. This is when large areas of the body get irreversible excessive sweating. ETS for pulmonary sweating should only be used in extreme cases after all other options have failed.
You can also try a combination of the antiperspirants, Botox, and iontophoresis, to manage this problem before seeking out ETS.
Tips on how to stop hands from sweating
- Regularly wash your hands with water alone unless they have dirt. Constant soap use will dry the skin.
- Use pocket sized hand gels to cleanse and dry hands.
- Use tissues to wipe hands throughout the day.
- Use talcum powder to absorb sweat. This will help in getting a better grip of things.
- Don’t use gloves to cover up hands since they will make them sweat even more. You can use the gloves during winter though.
- Find out your sweat triggers: If it’s stress, tackle the cause as this could help reduce the sweating.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Treatment of hyperhidrosis manuum by tap water iontophoresis
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Palmar hyperhidrosis: clinical, pathophysiological, diagnostic and therapeutic aspects
- Journal of Neonatology and Clinical Pediatrics: Palmar Hyperhidrosis