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Sweaty hands

Sweaty hands are annoying and embarrassing, particularly if you use a computer keyboard or your sweat smudges ink and wets paper. You can disguise sweaty hands to some extent by smoothing back your hair – so that you wipe your hands on your hair – before you shake hands with anyone. But it can be embarrassing if you leave sweaty handprints on anything you touch.

What you can do for sweaty hands

First ask yourself whether your sweaty hands mean that you are excessively anxious in certain situations. If this is the case, dealing with the anxiety will lessen the problem (see below and look at the section on shyness).
 
You may not be excessively anxious – it may simply be that even slight, normal anxiety triggers your hands to produce too much sweat. If this is the case, you can try rubbing your palms with astringent oils, such as cypress or geranium (from health stores). You can also buy a special powder to keep your hands dry, designed for use in sports to keep a grip on the ball or racquet (available from sports shops). You apply it as a liquid, which changes into a fine dry powder. Alternatively, try 20% aluminium chloride, painting it onto your hands as described for armpits. You can buy products containing aluminium chloride from chemists without a prescription (ask for Driclor, Anhydrol Forte, Perspi-Guard or Perspirex Hand and Foot Lotion). Unfortunately, it is not as effective for hands as for armpits. If this does not work, you need to see your doctor.

What doctors can do for sweaty hands

Help for anxiety is the obvious solution if the sweating is caused by anxiety and stress. Your doctor can discuss your anxieties, suggest ways to deal with them and might suggest beta-blocker tablets to take a couple of hours before an anxiety-provoking situation.
 
Iontophoresis is a treatment available through some hospital physiotherapy departments. It used to be difficult to obtain this treatment, but more hospitals now have the equipment (your doctor can find out if it is available locally).
  • It involves placing your hands in a bath of tap water, through which a very small electrical current is passed for about 15 minutes.
  • You may find it a slightly uncomfortable, tingling or burning sensation, and skin irritation can occur.
  • It is not suitable if you could be pregnant or have a heart pacemaker.
  • At first, treatment is every few days, so it is time consuming, but it is gradually decreased to once every 3 or 4 weeks.
  • If you find it works well, you might consider buying the equipment to use at home (they are available from sweating.com). It is expensive, so you should ask the physiotherapist’s advice. (Obviously, you should not try to make home-made equipment, because you could electrocute yourself.)
Botulinum toxin injections (Botox, Dysport; look at the section in sweaty armpits) will stop or substantially reduce sweating of the palms for about 6 months. After that, repeat injections are needed. However, there is a major problem with this treatment when used for hand sweating – some people notice weakness of their hand muscles for some weeks afterwards. For this reason specialists are reluctant to use this treatment on hands.
 
A sympathectomy operation is probably the most effective treatment for seriously sweaty hands. For more information, look at the section on sweaty armpits.
  • Sympathectomy is often done to control excessive sweating under the arms, but it is 95% successful for sweating of the hands.
  • The result is immediate; you wake from the anaesthetic with dry, warm hands.
  • The long-term results seem good; after about 14 years about 73% of people are still satisfied with the result (Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin 2005;43:77–80). However, it has a major drawback which is that the body may compensate by increasing sweating elsewhere – usually the trunk, but sometimes the feet – so you may end up swapping sweaty hands for a sweaty abdomen. This happens in between one-third and three-quarters of people who have had the operation. In 1 in 100, this ‘compensatory’ sweating is very severe, and they regret they had the operation. Unfortunately, the operation cannot be reversed.
  • Like any other surgical operation, the actual operation has risks so is not to be undertaken lightly.
Return to Sweating

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Monday, November 26th 2012

 

Dr Phil Hammond asks why do we sweat, why do some people smell more than others, and what can we do about it. Find out more by clicking on the video below.

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Comments on this article

Posted by Optional on 26/08/2014 at 07:29

I usually get sweaty hands when I'm nervous or writing for a long time. also my hands are always cold, not sweaty and cold at the same time, just like in the winter they freeze fast. but they just sweat like crazy

Posted by Ard on 21/08/2014 at 08:49

Hello Im a 17 years old boy, who have recently got the palm of my hands sweating and its only my hands which i guess means i dont have Hyperhidrosis but then i dont know what is the problem, i did use have my hands sweating again back when i was 11-12 but then it got ok by itself until now. is there anything i can do about it?

Posted by Optional on 03/11/2013 at 10:46

I find my sweating uncontrollable,my mum is also very sweaty. my main problem are my hands,if i was to playfully pull my friend somewhere they would always say,"eww your hands all wet" its really embarresing.in exams it causes my to panic/drop my pen ect.i still cant find and cure for it :(

Posted by Optional on 13/08/2013 at 05:20

My hands and feet sweat terribly and have ever since I was a baby, I've tried so many home remedies and I've aske y doctor about it several times. The last time I talked to my doctor he prescribed me with a roll on hand deodorant but it only made it worse. My close friends now about it but they don't understand how embarrassing it is! I can't give high gives, shake hands at school ceremonies and even when I write it wets the paper and smears my words. It's awful and it makes me feel alittle self conscious and I try not to show it but it really does and I really NEED a cure. I don't want to do the surgery because of the risks and I know my parents wouldn't want me doing it either so I need something that will help..if u have any other suggestions please let me know!

Posted by SomeGirl on 08/07/2013 at 10:01

Would anti perspirant on your hands be a good idea or would it harm your skin? Sweaty hands (and feet) are just so embarrassing :/

Posted by DrippityDropDrop on 01/03/2013 at 11:59

None of these are solutions! They all have mixed results, some are terribly invasive that require serious surgery, some have painful side effects. This is a serious problem and I can't live my life like this any more and there's no solution!!! I can't get a job because in my interviews I have to shake hands and they all assume I'm a nervous wreck, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and it makes me sweat even more because I'm self conscious about my sweating. I can't maintain any relationship because they are disgusted with my body and I can't blame them because my body disgusts even me too!! I sometimes go through multiple sets of clothes because they become drenched. I have to wear at least two shirts even during the summer because of sweat stains, which of course makes it hotter and worsens the sweating. I try to go to therapy for this but no body seems to take it seriously. They always blame anxiety and try to fix it that way but I'm not an anxious person, at least I wasn't until I developed this condition at age 18 for no apparent reason! But now I am anxious about it because of the disgusted looks I get or people think I'm lying or afraid of something, which I become self conscious about. It's unbearable!! !

Posted by SweatyBitch on 05/01/2013 at 09:54

Im gonna try out tht perspirex hand and foot lotion

Posted by Optional on 10/12/2012 at 03:23

I am 21 years old.I m suffering hand sweaty hand. What kind of doctor do i need to see? When i have sweaty hand it cannot stop it and feel like so bad..

Posted by biruk on 19/11/2012 at 11:14

i use to hav this problem and i had surgur an d it gone now and i feel good and i thnik this is a very big problem when i did the surgury most people think i was crazy of course u r takeing arisk but i think if u have this problam it your dissuson to take the risk

Posted by Jeeje on 04/10/2012 at 01:26

INeeeed Helppp Now!!!!!! Sweat ruins my lifeee!!

Posted by Optional on 27/09/2012 at 02:38

I had an opperation in 1974 for sweety hands worst thing i ever did since then my back my legs an my ass sweet so bad that i have to takre like e a pill just to slow it down oh ya the opperation was a cut by my spine would sure like to her from somebody wiyh the same thank you john

Posted by Kirkie on 04/08/2012 at 03:09

Had two sympathectomies when aged 21 - big operations then,neck and stomach--wonderful. Cured me. Daughter, years later had Much easier operation just two slits one for camera and other for lazer and she was cured. The one operation cured her hands and feet. Go for it!!!!!

Posted by RAJU on 08/01/2012 at 08:26

I am a male, 25years old and suffer from VERY sweaty hands AND feet which drip sweat for no reason, in both winter and summer. The rest of the body does NOT over-sweat. While commonly dismissed as 'nervousness', it is not the case because I am confident young man but have suffered this from childhood. I know that this condition is called Hyperhidrosis and is caused by an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Do any of you know of a Ayurvedic remedy for this condition?

Posted by Vino on 20/10/2011 at 09:37

OH well!! Never realised it was caused by anxiety!

Posted by Optional on 14/09/2011 at 01:58

I'm an 18 year old guy and my heads and feet have been sweaty for as long as i can remember and in the past few years my armpits and even my butt started sweating heavily as well for no reason. I've tried a lot of creams and gels for my hands and i've concluded they all suck and would only make it worse as they just make your hands greasier. i stopped caring about my feet as it bothers no one inside my shoes. FOR ARMPITS i found the perfect solution; Axitrans (I dont now if you can get that in other countries, I live in belgium) I apply Axitrans 1x a week and my armpits STAY DRY in every kind of weather. There is Axitrans for hands & feet as well but I found that being less useful. I recently bought the Iontophoresis device online and I'm hoping on successful results. As for now I strongly recommand everyone with sweaty armpits ---AXITRANS---, feels so great to wear whichever color of t-shirt and being able to lift your arms without having to worry about huge sweatstains!

Posted by Optional on 15/08/2011 at 04:53

Hw do i get rid of ma sweaty hands and feets coz its realy horible.i tend 2 hv low self esteem!

Posted by Cris on 03/06/2011 at 08:44

Hi, i'm 13 years old and i live in the Philippines. I sweat every time when it's night. Usually i turn on the air-conditioner then that's the part where my feet and hands start to sweat. My feet starts to get cold though. Should I see a doctor?

Posted by Optional on 18/05/2011 at 05:25

im facing the same probleme and i try all kind of medicament.can u advie me what is the solution for this problem

Posted by Vikas on 23/02/2011 at 09:29

Hi, i always sweat. I always sweat on my hand, my armpit and my feet. Even in winter i sweat really bad. Also, when i am at work i sweat loads. i thought it was normal but none of friends has this problem. I need ways to stop it. Can anyone help me. Thanks

Posted by Optional on 12/02/2011 at 08:29

Hey everyone! I have a solution that is not mentioned in this article. I had sweaty hands and feet for decades , so I know what it is like. The solution for me was DON'T wear synthetic socks! No nylon or polyester . It's hard to find cotton dress sock but it is possible. It completely solved my problem! Give it a try

Posted by M on 11/01/2011 at 10:34

I don't want to spell out my story of sweaty hands and feet because if you are reading this then you have the same problem. i had this problem for 20+ years. I am a neuro-psychology student about to graduate. I have studied this problem and have some tips for you that may ELIMINATE THE SWEATING so pay attention. Stress is a big problem but you know that so i wont talk too much about it here. THE MAIN CAUSES 1. you are too heavy. increase your cardio to burn off extra fat. REASON: extra weight (fat) can do one of two things. first it will make it harder for your body to tell the difference between temperature inside your body and out. and in some cases it will activate the sweat glands with pressure. losing fat in your belly is hard and takes time, it is the first part of your body to accumulate fat and last to lose it (this is not my problem, i am a very skinny person. this has however worked for other people i know) 2. Toxins. REASON: your body always strives to get rid of toxins. one of the main ways is sweat. to help this, cut back on (eventually quit) alcohol and SMOKING, these are the main toxins to watch for. (this helped me alot after i quit smoking tobacco and cut back on alcohol) On this note MARIJUANA counts as smoking!!!! THC alters your brain chemistry and can be related to excessive sweating. if you are a chronic user (more then once a day) do this first, its probably a big part of your problem. READ THIS!!!!!! 3. Body regulation out of sync. your body temperature is important. sometimes the mechanisms that monitor and/or adjust your body temperature just fall out of sync. THIS IS IMPORTANT. So what do you do? This also helped me lots!! Take a cold shower. when i say cold i mean COLD not chilly. wash yourself in moderate water and then chill yourself. make the water cold (BE SMART ABOUT IT. DONT GET SICK!!)dont stay in there for too long 30seconds to a minute is plenty. This type of shower my snap your body into sync. This is most effective with people who get this problem on and off. however this does work also with us who have this problem for years. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This brings me to my last point. This technique worked for me (i had this problem for over 20 years). i no longer sweat excessively and my hands and feet are dry!!!!!!! so here we go. BIKRAM YOGA ( AKA HOT YOGA). This type of yoga is performed in a room that is 40 deg Celsius (i'm from Canada hence the metric system). a major part of this type of yoga is to release toxins and calm you down as well as relax you and release anxiety. this was hard for me to try, or believe, because being sweaty is what i want to avoid and yet this makes you sweat like a pig. The first two sessions were hard to sit through but after that i had no problem. after about 3 sessions i noticed great improvements. this is what worked for me, but we are all different. as far as i can tell and this is only a theory at this point, by overusing your overactive glands you can deplete them causing a slowing in their reaction which eventually returns them to a normal rhythm. NOW THE SCARY PART over sweating in the feet, hands, and face could be symptoms that your brain is having a seizure. you may not realize this because seizures don't always result in twitching on the ground. This has been studied and you can feel free to look it up. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR, if you think that this could be your problem insist on getting checked for any seizure activity, and any mild forms of epilepsy. Anti-convulsive drugs have been shown to stop this sweating (only if you are found to have seizures). These people are RARE cases but don't dismiss it if nothing else worked for you. i hope this helps and at least gives you things to try. M

Posted by Optional on 10/01/2011 at 09:26

im 18 and have had sweaty hands, feet and armpits since i was 6 years old. ive tried everything from drysol which made it worse and gave me an allergic reaction to getting botox which wore off in 4 months and all it did was weaken my hand muscles... they say your muscles will return to norm after a few weeks but its been a year and i still have problems with my grip. i really dont want to get the surgery after hearing all the horror stories of sweating everywhere else. i realized today i cant just try living with it anymore after my sister pulled her hand away from mine and said ew. its embarassing and its done some emotional and psychologocal damage in my life. i need a cure

Posted by Optional on 06/01/2011 at 08:08

Use Drysol or hypercare as it's called you can get it for around $20 at your local pharmacy..it helped me.... :)

Posted by Optional on 12/11/2010 at 01:46

im 14 years old and my hand is sweating so much and i find it so embarassing specially in the school when i right in the bord or when i do exam ..but i can't stop it

Posted by Optional on 23/08/2010 at 10:07

im done sweating!i say know more sweating! be gone!

Posted by cindy on 30/07/2010 at 05:52

Sometimes im just resting waching tv and then i relize my hands and feet are sweating so much all the sweat was all over the couch or floor sometimez i take my dog a walk and im wearing sandels and then see they are so sweaty that i can easily slip out of my sandles school hands allways sweaty evan in the cold well i whant a cure because its very annoying and emberrising sometimes i dont evan think its normal

Posted by shazad ahmed on 29/06/2010 at 08:58

hi.im 20 and find it so embarassing,i used to have so much confidence but suddenly feel nervous for no reason,what can i do to overcome this as my hands play alot inmy daily life.thanks

Posted by chris on 25/06/2010 at 02:38

the hold of my hands sweat alot, from the back to the front.

Posted by Optional on 28/05/2010 at 11:23

i suffer awfully from this, and at times, i can literally see beads of sweat building on my hands and fingers, and it will drip when it gets to bad. went to the doctors, prescribed me a roll-on 'hand deoderant' and had an allergic reaction which made it worse. used other remedies that haven't worked, so doctors have given up on me. i may suggest some of the above help and hope something can be done. it has lasted about 5 years and is unbarable at times.

Posted by Sachin on 23/05/2010 at 12:56

Hi, i always sweat. I always sweat on my hand, my armpit and my feet. Even in winter i sweat really bad. Also, when i am at school i sweat loads. i thought it was normal but none of friends has this problem. I need ways to stop it. Can anyone help me. Thanks

Posted by Muzamil Khan on 23/05/2010 at 07:41

i have a problem in hand and foot sweating . This is a great problem for me . I am very keen of study. But me hand sweating and foot sweating make me nervous and panic and lead to failure. I am very worry about this problem. My hardworking and my effort become zero when i have sweaty. Please sir help me . I am very thankful to you for this act of kindness.

Posted by Optional on 15/05/2010 at 05:23

There was a good programme about this on Channel 4 Embarassing bodies programme. The keyhole surgery seems to work well. http://www.channel4embarrassingillnesses.com/video/in-detail/in-detail-sweaty-hands/

Posted by jessiewessie on 28/04/2010 at 10:28

hello. i find my sweaty hands really embarrising and i cant find a way to stop it! can you help me please by ways to stop this permantly...

Posted by shelby on 12/04/2010 at 01:56

I am 18 and ive been sweating as long as I can remember. My hands, feet and armpits are always sweaty. Its horrible It make me so nervous around people, I dont want to shake some ones hand. All through school ive been made fun of from it and it make you not want to do stuff, like i want to be a nurse but i am scared to go to university as i wouldnt like someone touching me with sweaty hands. Ive been to my doctor so many time about it and ive tryed all the tablets, and creams and roll-ons. I am so fed up now its like theres nothing you can do. And now i have a 1 year old daughter who all ready has sweaty hands and feet and i dont want her to go through what i have gone through.

Posted by John on 07/04/2010 at 06:56

i have Hyperhidrosis, ive tryed creams, electrolysis which i was sure would work, as doctors have told me that it works for months up to a year, it didnt work at all for me. the only other option i know now is an oporation. i would recomend people trying electrolysis in hospital, if it works for you, you can buy the kit for something like £200 i think and you can do it at home when ever you feel you need to. or you could just not care about it which is what i do now :)

Posted by Optional on 06/04/2010 at 12:28

My hands sweat , if i am in danger or holding somone else's hand.

Posted by Optional on 26/03/2010 at 11:57

I had a sympathectomy operation on monday of this week, and I have noticed an improvement, however I still find that my hands do sweat a little, is there anything that I can do to enhance the proceedure's effectivness, or will it get any better?

Posted by Optional on 14/03/2010 at 04:55

I've has sweaty hands since I was eight it's getting to the point where I don't know what to do anymore I sweat so much it drips and it's emberrasing already please help!!!!!!!

Posted by daiay christina on 10/12/2009 at 09:15

i want treatment for my sweating hands and feets

Posted by Jess on 04/12/2009 at 05:47

Thank you for this information. I found it extremely useful. I have suffered from sweating hands for most of my adult life. I finally cured my problem when I followed a guide that I found at: http://sweatinghands.net/ There is a lady that has a blog that recommended that I go there and it is good. http://palmssweaty.com/cure-for-sweaty-hands/ Maybe some other people might find this helpful!

Posted by Anonymous on 16/11/2009 at 08:53

I am a young teen and my hands and feet are sweaty, and by sweaty sometimes sweat drops off. I don't know why it's happening. It happens for no reason even when i don't get anxious. Please help!

Posted by A troubled teen on 29/10/2009 at 12:44

My hands ruin my life, there always sweating 100% of the time. I hate going to school because of those emmbarasing moments, something as easy as high fivein some one is my biggest fears. I have tried gels and all that stuff i can afford i have tried to explain how my self-esteem Has banished but my parents simly dont belive that this is an actull problem. I dont have a life as a normal teen thanks to my hands. I fear ill never be able to do stuff normal pepople do with out worries.

Posted by ): on 27/10/2009 at 02:12

i have clammy hands. it runs in my family): i have to square dance in gym and in REALLY nervous about it. I cant stop my sweaty hands, ive tryed baby powder and all that chiz. any ideas?

Posted by Anonymous on 11/10/2009 at 07:31

I jus recently had a kidney transplant about 3mths ago now im on a number of horrible medication i dont know if im having anxiety i have been feeling really worried about my fertility recently because im really late on my period, I have a constant butterfly feeling in my stomach, feeling sick, Hot and cold flushes, Jittery and cold and sweaty palms and cold feet. I had a hormone level done although i dont really know what they checked i do know however that my FSH level was 3.3 and LH level was normal. Docs dont really know whats wrong with me i seem to be the only person at clinic getting Symptoms like these. What do you think it is my medication or im suffereing from anxiety attacks, Please any help would be nice Thanx

Posted by Anonymous on 03/09/2009 at 09:45

I am young and have sweaty palms- I want to do something about it but my mom just jokes about it- is there anything like home- remedys that can prevent this?

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Fascinating facts

Each person has 3-4 million sweat glands

At rest in a cool environment, a normal person loses about half a litre of sweat in a day

The sweat glands are capable of producing 12 litres of sweat in 24 hours

Hippopotamus sweat is red. It contains sunscreen and is also antiseptic (Nature 2004;429:363)

We can smell the sweat of a giraffe from a quarter of a mile away. The smell repels ticks (New Scientist 1 February 2003)

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