Written by: Sandra Eriksson Mirkovic, MD
Uncontrollable sweating from your palms might be a sign of a condition called primary palmar hyperhidrosis. This type of sweat is not often related to hot weather or nervous situations. Yet, it can be related as it gets worse for the patients in hotter times and nervous situations.
If you have sweaty hands, you might have experienced how embarrassing and life-quality damaging living with it can be. This article explains causes, symptoms, effects on life and medical treatment options for palmar hyperhidrosis.
What is primary palmar hyperhidrosis?
Palmar hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of palms and hands. It is a condition characterized by extremely wet palms and hands making it difficult to function normally in everyday activities. Sweating is a natural way of the body cooling itself and regulating body temperature.
When it comes to palms and hands, sweat serves for a better grip function. Palmar hyperhidrosis occurs when the nervous system triggers your sweat glands to produce sweat more than needed.
What causes sweaty hands?
The reason why you might have overly sweaty palms can be idiopathic in some cases. That means that it is not caused by other medical conditions. This type can be hereditary and run in families. The secondary type can be a product of other underlying medical conditions. Hyperhidrosis is usually divided into two main types:
Primary hyperhidrosis (focal)
To learn more about primary hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis read our page about hyperhidrosis.
If your sweaty hands are a product of primary focal hyperhidrosis that means that your nervous system is sending more signals than needed to sweat glands in your palms and hands. Depending on the activity your hands could be either clammy or have sweat dripping from them.
In various cases, this condition is followed by excessive sweating of the feet, known as plantar hyperhidrosis. However, if a person is affected by excess sweating in both palms and feet, that might be a sign of palmoplantar hyperhidrosis.
This is a big issue when it comes to doing activities in both personal and professional life. Many jobs require people with sweaty palms to work with gloves, such as medical personnel, pharmacists. Any job that requires glove usage can become extremely hard and nerve-wracking for people with severe cases.
Some medical professionals that are suffering from palmar hyperhidrosis reported that they avoid as much as possible physical contact when they are examining patients. They are ashamed and afraid that their sweat will go on the patients and cause unpleasant situations.
Sweaty hands are also an issue for people working in offices since the sweat can ruin papers they are handling, or make it hard to use their personal computers and technologies. Other daily activities that can be extremely stressful are meetings, situations that require handshakes, and general contact with other people.
It is normal for almost everyone to have hand sweat when they are being nervous. However, people with extremely sweaty palms and hands will sweat in situations when they aren't nervous. Sometimes, they will sweat even more because they are nervous. In some hyperhidrosis societies, people like to describe anxiety and hand sweat as a closed circle.
They sweat because of their hyperhidrosis and start being anxious because of it. As a product of that, they even start to sweat more than the level that they are usually experiencing.
In some cases, excessive sweating of the hands can cause infections and irritations of the skin. There are multiple signals that could be potential signs of extremely sweaty palms.
Palmar hyperhidrosis symptoms
- Dripping sweat of palms and hands
- Cold, clammy, or wet palms
- Relatively symmetrical recurring sweating
- Sweating is usually concentrated in the palms and fingers area. Sweating is less common for the other parts of the hands.
- Pale fingers (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Red and swollen fingers in some cases
- Sweating usually starts before age of 25
- Sweating can be present during sleep
Treatments for sweaty hands
The first treatment option that is advised if you have not treated your excess sweating of the hands is prescription antiperspirants. These antiperspirants contain aluminum chloride which is a substance that helps to decrease sweat in mild cases. Some antiperspirants can be bought prescription-free at the pharmacies, while for others you will need a prescription from your general practitioner. In severe cases, antiperspirants require usage in combination with other medical treatment options.
Treatment with injection is one of the most efficient, but it requires repetition over the year. The substance is injected into the palms or part of the hands that are affected. The effect can last from 2-9 months, which depends on the level of sweat, and how quickly your body will break the substance. Many people find this type of treatment painful. In some countries, this treatment is covered by health insurance, while in others patients have to pay for the treatment themselves. You can talk to your doctor, or join the hyperhidrosis society in your country to find out more information.
Some pills can help control excessive sweating of your hands. Before your doctor or your general practitioner prescribes you any type of oral medication, make sure that they inform you of all possible side effects. If you have other medical conditions, or if you are taking medications, it might be unsafe to use the medicine. Consult with your doctor, or at a sweat clinic, to learn if the treatment is the right for your hand sweat. Some common side effects are dry mouth, fatigue, bowel problems, lowered blood pressure, etc.
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) is a surgery for a permanent treatment of hand sweating. The surgery consists of cutting or clipping the nerves that send signals to sweat glands. For some people the surgery is successful, but some people can experience side effects. One of the most common side effects of this surgery is severe compensatory sweating in other body areas after the procedure and other unpleasant side effects. Before considering the surgery, we advise you that you research information from credible sources and institutions.
Iontophoresis for sweaty hands
Iontophoresis is an effective and safe treatment for palmoplantar (hands and feet hyperhidrosis) and axillary (hyperhidrosis in armpit area), with minimal side effects. You can perform iontophoresis to treat your hands and palms at your own home. During the iontophoresis treatment, the iontophoresis machine delivers electrical currents that are mild to your skin.
The electrical current affects the way that nerve signals are conducted to the sweat glands of your hands. This treatment has some side effects such as blistering, and skin irritation. This can be treated with moisturizing creams. The treatment is medication-free, pain-free, and needle-free and you can perform it inside your own home.
This treatment lasts for 20-40 minutes and requires repetition from 1-5 times a week depending on your level of sweat. Once you achieve the desired effect, you can perform the treatment 1-2 a week. Iontophoresis can be a highly successful treatment option, but it requires patience, the right guidance, and advice.
Hidroxa customer care is backed by the medical support of Dr. Sandra Eriksson Mirkovic, a licensed physician with multiple years of experience working with hyperhidrosis patients, and she is also a palmoplantar hyperhidrosis patient herself.
Since every experience is individual, here at Hidroxa we offer you 50 days to test the machine and see if the treatment will work for you, and if you are not satisfied, you can return the machine and get your money back.
To read more about iontophoresis treatment, visit our iontophoresis page.
When to see a doctor?
If your sweating problem is impacting your life quality and you have difficulties functioning in everyday life it is advised to seek medical help. You can contact dermatologists with experience, clinicians, and doctors. They can help you discover if your sweating is because of primary hyperhidrosis or secondary hyperhidrosis. They will help you examine your case and exclude other diseases if needed. Focal hyperhidrosis is not visible on the blood tests, even though the symptoms can be severe. Seek a proper sweat clinic with experience to make sure that you are getting the right diagnosis.