Abnormal sweating, also called hyperhidrosis, can occur in some parts of the body, mostly in armpits, hands, and feet, or it affects the entire body. Abnormal sweating limits people in their daily activities, and create a huge social and personal discomfort. In this article, we are going to tell more about sweaty hands phenomenon and we will uncover why is this happening, and how to reduce symptoms.
What Is Palmar Hyperhidrosis?
Palmar hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by excessive sweating in palms and hands. According to several professional sources, this condition affects around 3% of the population worldwide. People suffering from sweaty hands complain about limitations in their daily activities and personal life. It can affect especially those who do some jobs requiring precious hand movements. People with palmar hyperhidrosis usually sweat normally in other parts of the body. Increased hand sweating usually starts in childhood or puberty.
Perspiration is a bodily process related to thermoregulation. Due to increased temperature, our brain sends a signal to sweat glands to produce sweat that cools the body. The human body has 3-5 millions of sweat glands. According to the British anatomist Henry Gray, we have around 370 sweat glands per 1 cm2 on palms and 200 glands per cm2 on the back of the hand. We talk about Palmar hyperhidrosis when these sweat glands are overactive and they produce sweat even we don’t need it for cooling. Now we can say more about the symptoms and causes of sweaty hands.
Palmar Hyperhidrosis Symptoms
Because everybody sweats differently, it is not easy to recognize what level of sweating is still normal and what can be already considered as hyperhidrosis. But there are some signs, also used by a dermatologist by making a diagnosis. If you meet more of these criteria, you probably have palmar hyperhidrosis:
- You have sweaty hands without an obvious reason
- Hand sweating occurs at least once a week
- Your sweating is relatively symmetrical (both hands sweat similarly)
- The onset of hand sweating was before the age of 25 years
- Excessive sweating doesn’t affect the entire body
- You don’t sweat profusely at night
- Some of your family members have (has) similar symptoms
- Hand sweating affects your daily activities
- Due to your clammy hands, you avoid handshaking
Do most of these assertions fits you? If the answer is yes, you should start to think about some available treatment. Fortunately, palmar hyperhidrosis is not dangerous for the body, but when you leave this condition untreated, the symptoms may worsen. Before we introduce treatments for sweaty hands, let’s say a word about causes.
Causes of Sweaty Hands
There are more types of abnormal sweating. We distinguish two basic types of sweating according to the cause. Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis affects the whole body and is caused by some other health condition, disease, or medications. In this case, an increased level of sweating is a side effect of some other health issues.
On the other hand, primary focal hyperhidrosis only affects particular areas like armpits, hands, feet, or hands. People with this condition sweat during a day. Primary focal hyperhidrosis is the so-called idiopathic condition, which means there is no known reason behind this condition. Sweaty hands belong to this category. Even experts don’t know the cause of profuse hand sweating, they believe that genetics play an important role. Thet’s why many patients with any type of primary hyperhidrosis have brother, sister, or another family member, who also experience heavy sweating.
In some cases of palmar hyperhidrosis, these complications can happen:
- Skin irritation
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Erythema (Skin redness)
- Unwillingness to make physical contact
- Social isolation, depression
- Decreased self-confidence
These symptoms can occur in people with severe palmar hyperhidrosis. Many studies proved the highly negative impact of abnormal hand sweating. If you have trouble related to sweaty hands, don’t hesitate to visit a dermatologist.
Palmar Hyperhidrosis Treatment
During perspiration, our sweat glands get a signal from the brain to produce sweat. Sweat is coming through skin pores and reach the upper part of the skin when evaporation starts. All of the hyperhidrosis treatments are based on the interruption of some part of this process. These are the most common ways how to stop sweaty hands.
The choice of the most appropriate treatment for sweaty hands should depend on the severity of sweating and the impact on daily life. For mild and moderate sweating, it is recommended to use a specialized hand antiperspirant. These products are mostly in the form of a lotion, allowing convenient application and rapid absorption. Over-the-counter clinically strength antiperspirants are available in pharmacies, some drugstores, and online stores.
They contain a higher percentage of aluminum salts that prevent sweat from reaching the skin surface. The effectiveness of hand antiperspirants is individual but usually ranges from 2 to 5 days. In the article Why Are My Hands Always Sweaty? we introduced some antiperspirants for hands as well as tips on how to get rid of sweaty hands in kind.
Iontophoresis is a method that has been used to treat excessive sweating for decades. The method is based on the principle of ions. The weak electric current is distributed directly to the affected areas. Iontophoresis is probably the most ideal way to treat sweaty hands and feet. Advantageously, several iontophoresis devices are available today that can be used without medical assistance. The home treatment uses no chemicals, but only tap water and electricity, which can be pulsed or direct.
In article 10 Best Iontophoresis Machines: Complex Overview and Comparison you will learn everything you need to know about iontophoresis.
Injections of botulinum toxin directly into the palms of the hands are another way to effectively stop perspiration. Compared to antiperspirants or iontophoresis, botox is more effective and longer-lasting. To multiply the effect, the procedure may be repeated after approximately six months. Botox is usually used in patients with severe plantar hyperhidrosis. The procedure is preceded by a meeting with a dermatologist who, after examination, determines the amount of toxin used and the extent of injections. Botox is a safe method of treating hyperhidrosis, but its disadvantage is the higher cost and the higher possibility of side effects.
4. ETS surgery
The last option for people with severe hand sweating is an operation called Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS). During the procedure, a surgeon removes sweat glands from the affected areas. It is an invasive and irreversible operation that is the only one able to stop sweating permanently. During surgery, the patient is under general anesthesia. Many patients experience side effects such as compensatory sweating, such as compensatory sweating (increased sweating in other parts of the body), pain, and weakness. Related: ETS Surgery For Hyperhidrosis – The Last Solution For Heavy Sweaters.
Vaclav Michalcik is PR manager who write for medical clients, and founder of sweatlimit.com. As a hyperhidrosis sufferer, he tries to help people with a similar condition. Vaclav collaborates with dermatologists and medical experts to provide helpful information using proven medical sources.