Have you ever been afraid to shake someone’s hand? Do you clasp your hands behind your back to hide your sweaty palms? Excessively sweaty palms are no laughing matter. It can be particularly embarrassing if you’re scheduled for a job interview and know you’ll be obligated to shake someone’s hand. Is it possible to control sweaty palms and reduce that feeling of embarrassment in social situations?
What causes sweaty palms?
The official medical term for excessively sweaty palms is palmar hyperhidrosis. Although there are theories about the cause of this relatively common condition, the exact etiology isn’t known.
One theory is that the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands in the palms are hypersensitive in affected individuals. When a person with hyperhydrosis becomes stressed these nerves overreact resulting in the production of excessive sweat. When the body is exposed to stress or is physically active, the release of sweat by the sweat glands in the palms serves the useful function of cooling down the body more quickly. Unfortunately, in persons who suffer from hyperhydrosis, the sweat glands are active even when the body is at rest, making for a very uncomfortable social situation.
Fortunately, there are ways to treat sweaty palms so you can enjoy shaking someone’s hand or holding the hand of a loved one again. Here are some ways to control and even get rid of sweaty palms.
How to get rid of sweaty palms
Rule out medical reasons for excessively sweaty palms
Certain medical problems such as an overactive thyroid or an underlying infection can cause excessive sweating and should be ruled out particularly if the symptoms are of recent onset. Check with your doctor and get the appropriate blood tests run to rule out correctable medical causes for why your palms might sweat.
Try the simplest solution first
A simple cure for sweaty palms that works well for some people is to use powder or cornstarch to soak up the excessive perspiration that ends up on their hands. The only problem with this technique is you need to keep reapplying it to prevent breakthrough sweating. If you have a mild problem with hyperhydrosis and don’t mind carrying talcum powder or cornstarch with you, carry a container of it with you for a week and see if it keeps the problem under control. Be sure to apply the powder over your entire hand and between the fingers.
Antiperspirant works well for underarm sweating and can also work for excessively sweaty palms. The key is to use an aluminum chlorohydrate based antiperspirant, not a deodorant. Antiperspirant may not be enough to control the symptoms if you have a severe case but this treatment is worth trying.
Ask your doctor about prescription medications
There are two primary classes of prescription medications that may help in severe cases of hyperhydrosis. These are the beta blocker medications which are also used to treat hypertension and anti-cholinergics which are medications that affect the nerve supply to the palms. Both of these groups of medications have significant side effects meaning they should only be used in cases that don’t respond to other measures. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for one of these treatments.
Learn to control stress levels
Learning to control stress can be an effective and natural way to reduce the incidence of sweaty palms. There are a variety of ways to do this including meditation, biofeedback, and yoga. In some people, acupuncture has also been shown to be an effective alternative treatment for excessively sweaty palms. In certain cases a prescription anti-anxiety medication taken at a low dose can successfully reduce the frequency and severity of palm sweating.
If all else fails
There are more extreme treatments for excessively sweaty palms that don’t respond to the use of more conservative measures. These include use of botox injections, iontophoresis which involves using electrical current to block the function of the sweat glands in the palms, and, as a last resort, surgery. These are all treatments you should discuss with your doctor if you can’t get relief through other means.