Sweaty Hands

Sweaty hands or palmar hydrosis can be embarrassing when you need to shake hands with people introduced to you during social gatherings. It becomes annoying when you lose grip or control of anything you are holding like the car’s steering wheel, a racquet, or a pen.

Sometimes kids with sweaty hands soil their papers because the papers stick to their dripping hand. Sweaty hands make homework untidy; worse of all, teachers may put an F grade for a messy work. Imagine how disappointing it is to mingle comfortably with people or to do your job efficiently when your hands are dripping with perspiration. I just thought of this; I haven’t met a surgeon or a dentist with sweaty hands, have you?

Palmar hyperhidrosis is the medical term for sweaty hands. It is characterized by excessive sweating of the palms or hands. It is classified as a localized hyperhidrosis, which means that a certain area, like the palm, is sweating profusely beyond the normal.

Causes of Excessive Hand Sweating

Why are there people with sweaty hands? In a study of patients with hyperhidrosis, 35% were found to be caused by heredity or at least one of their family members had hyperhidrosis. Many believe that sweaty hands are due to extreme anxiety. This can be partially true as I noticed how my daughter’s palms perspire when taking exams in school. Sweaty hands may be an emotionally-induced hyperhidrosis but the causes are still unsubstantiated except for the fact that the active sympathetic nerves are responsible for this disorder. This is the same nerve system that dictates the “fight or flight” reaction causing the sweat glands to over-secrete fluids.

Treatment for Sweaty Hands

Is there a cure to sweaty hands? Fortunately, there are over-the-counter treatments and non-invasive solutions that can temporary relieve a person with mild dripping hands.

Aluminum Chloride

Aluminum chloride solution is an effective remedy to sweating hands, as well as feet. Drysol and Xerac AC are two popular brands of aluminum chloride solution sold over-the-counter. When using these products, read carefully the instructions for the preparation of the solution. If any instruction is unclear, ask your doctor or the pharmacist. The topical solution is recommended for use before bedtime. It must be applied only to dry skin. Be careful not get it in your eyes or apply to broken, irritated, or cut skin. Plastic wrap can be used after applying the solution and drying it. Leave the solution unwashed for 6 to 8 hours. Then in the morning, wash your hands with soap and water. Repeat the procedure for 2 to 3 nights or until sweating is reduced. For best result, don’t use any antiperspirant while using aluminum chloride solution. There have been no records of side effects from users of these brands, but for people with allergies adverse reaction may manifest through rash, itching or swelling, severe dizziness or trouble breathing. That is why it’s always safe to consult your doctor before taking any medication, whether oral or topical.

Beta Blockers and Anticholinergics

Physicians may also prescribe oral pills as beta blockers and anticholinergics to reduce excessive sweaty palms. These medicines are not really intended to cure hyperhidrosis, but they have been found to treat the condition effectively. Side effects may include dry mouth, constipation, poor eyesight, nervousness and speech impairment.


Another known treatment is iontophoresis. The patient is asked to dip his hands into an electrolyte solution while a mild electric current passes through the solution. The procedure is safe although a stinging sensation may be experienced during treatment.


Others can suffer extremely from sweaty hands and may opt for botox (botulism toxin A) injection. In this procedure, toxins are injected to the sweat glands in palm area thus numbing the nerves and stopping the secretion of sweat fluids. This can resolve the problem for at most 6 to 8 months.

Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy

A permanent treatment for all kinds of hyperhidrosis is a surgical procedure called Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS). Although expensive this can restore and guarantee your success in your personal affairs and your professional success. An efficient surgeon on vascular surgery can do it by cutting the sympathetic nerves in the palm area or area/s where severe sweating occurs. Some 3% of the patients who had ETS complain of side effects like perspiration in the other parts of the body like the back, lower legs and thighs. Generally however 90-95% of treated patients have commended this procedure.

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