For some people, sweaty palms are not a sign of nervousness, they are a fact of everyday life. This can impact a person’s quality of life, causing them to shy away from socializing and certain activities.
A number of health issues can cause sweaty palms, as can menopause, which is a natural transition.
If the sweatiness is not a symptom of an underlying illness, a doctor may diagnose “palmar hyperhidrosis,” the medical term for sweaty palms.
Regardless of the cause, home remedies and medical treatments can help. Below, learn what can lead to sweaty palms and how to resolve the issue.
Sweating is a vital function, it helps the body cool down. If the body sweats when it does not need to cool, doctors consider the sweating to be excessive.
In this case, a person may benefit from medical treatment.
Some people simply have palmar hyperhidrosis, the medical term for sweaty palms. The issue often becomes noticeable in childhood, improves after a person turns 40, and usually stops after the age of 60.
Palmar hyperhidrosis can severely impact a person’s quality of life. The sweating can sometimes cause emotional and psychological distress and interfere with daily activities.
A person with palmar hyperhidrosis experiences:
- excessive sweating that is not a result of changes in body temperature or physical activity
- sweating that tends to affect the palms and fingers, though it can occur all over the hands.
- the palms regularly becoming cold and wet
- in some cases, swelling of the fingers
Meanwhile, sweaty palms can be a symptom of various health issues. Some of them include:
A person can take several steps at home to reduce sweating. However, it is important to stop using these methods if they seem to be causing irritation or an allergic reaction.
Also, if a person sees a doctor for treatment, they should inform the doctor of any home remedies that they have tried or are using.
Antiperspirants are topical treatments that come in many strengths.
Those available in most stores are “regular” strength, but a person can often purchase “clinical” strength varieties over the counter. Doctors can prescribe those that are even stronger.
It is important to apply antiperspirants properly. A person may not be using regular antiperspirants correctly, leading them to buy stronger varieties unnecessarily.
To apply an antiperspirant to the hands correctly:
- Use it just before bed.
- Apply the antiperspirant to completely dry skin.
- Never cover the hands after using the treatment, to help prevent irritation.
People have used various herbal remedies to treat excessive sweating. Some of these natural remedies include:
- valerian root
- St. John’s wort
Others have suggested approaches such as acupuncture, hypnosis, and relaxation techniques.
However, very little scientific evidence indicates that these treatments stop excessive sweating.
Keeping track of triggers
Heat, anxiety, and certain foods and drinks can trigger sweating.
It may be a good idea to note down any potential triggers and see whether avoiding them helps.
A person should also bring this information to a doctor, if they are seeking treatment.
Some ingredients that can trigger sweating include:
- monosodium glutamate, a common additive better known as MSG
- caffeine, which is present in chocolate, as well as coffee and tea
It is important to see a doctor if home remedies are not working or if sweaty palms are significantly impacting the quality of life.
For a doctor to diagnose palmar hyperhidrosis, a person must have had visible, excessive sweating on their palms for at least 6 months, along with two of the following:
- sweating on both palms
- sweating episodes that happen at least once a week
- sweating that interferes with daily activities
- sweating that started after the person turned 25
- a family history of the condition
- no sweating during sleep
The doctor may also perform a Minor test. This involves putting a solution of alcohol and iodine on the hand and sprinkling cornstarch over the solution. Palmar hyperhidrosis causes a reaction that stains parts of the hand dark blue.
A doctor may recommend one or a combination of the following medical treatments for excessively sweaty palms.
Iontophoresis involves placing the hands into a solution that has a low electric current.
Scientists believe that this temporarily stops or reduces the sweating by microscopically thickening the outer layer of skin. This blocks the sweat for up to 4 weeks.
People have this treatment at least four times a week, and each session lasts 30–40 minutes.
The drug can cause several side effects, including:
The treatment lasts for approximately 6 months. It involves a healthcare provider injecting Botox into the skin.
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the use of Botox to treat excessive sweating of the armpits, researchers have not yet studied the safety and efficacy of the treatment for palmar hyperhidrosis.
The FDA state that a person may experience weakness of the hand muscles after receiving Botox treatment for sweaty palms.
If sweating is having a severe impact, and other treatments have not worked, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove or injure sweat glands in the area, making it impossible to sweat.
One potentially successful technique is called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy.
Several factors can cause or contribute to sweaty palms, including obesity and menopause.
If sweating is not caused by temperature changes or physical activity, and it does not result from a health issue, a doctor may diagnose palmar hyperhidrosis.
To reduce the sweating, a person can try using antiperspirants and avoiding triggers. If these are not effective — or anytime the sweating is influencing the quality of life — a person should see a doctor.
The doctor can recommend a range of treatments. A person should let the doctor know about any home care techniques that they have tried.