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Sweaty Palms

Written by: Becki Murray

Updated by: Alice Hart-Davis

Last Updated: 5 January 2024

If you have ever experienced a moment of anxiety when someone reaches out to shake your hand, you are probably familiar with the discomfort of having sweaty palms. You may also notice that they give you away when you are nervous during a big presentation, or that they affect your ability to workout, by loosening your grip during exercise. It happens to all of us from time to time, but there comes a time where it may be excessive and even lifestyle-influencing. To help you find a way to reduce or even stop the issue, read our FAQs to discover what causes sweaty palms and the treatments available to help keep you sweat-free.

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What are sweaty palms?

Sweaty palms, also known as palmar hyperhidrosis, is a condition that refers to persistent or excessive sweating of the inner part of your hands. We all sweat to some degree, and it is an important biological process. It’s needed for temperature regulation and forms part of our stress response. The palms of your hands also have a high concentration of sweat glands so, some degree of palm sweating is totally normal, especially if you are in a humid or high-stakes environment. But, if you notice that your palms feel wet and clammy a lot of the time, or they seem to be sweating more than necessary, then it can become both a medical and social concern.

What are the signs of sweaty palms?

There are two main signs of excessively sweaty palms: namely persistent dampness and visible beads of sweat. The former makes your palms feel consistently moist for extended periods of time, whereas the latter makes sweating much more noticeable to both you and even other people around you. Both these signs can cause discomfort – in terms of potential skin irritation and also socially. That’s because if your palms are constantly sweaty you may feel self-conscious and avoid activities such as handshaking.

Sweaty Palms

What causes sweaty palms?

  1. Stress: When you placed into a stressful situation, your body releases hormones like adrenaline, as part of your body’s ‘fight or flight response.’ This, among other things, activates your sweat glands, including those on your palms. This is designed to help cool your body down, but it also leads to the tell-signs of sweaty palms, such as dampness.
  1. Exercise: Physical activity causes a rise in your body temperature, triggering your body’s natural cooling process – aka sweating. As the palms have a high concentration of sweat glands, this can lead to noticeable sweatiness, alongside other areas such as your armpits.
  1. Hormonal fluctuations: Changes in your hormones, especially during pregnancy and menopause, may contribute to increased perspiration. Adolescence can also trigger the start of getting sweaty palms, which further emphasises the link with your hormones.
  1. Medical conditions: Sweaty palms can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as thyroid disorders or diabetes, which are associated with excessive sweating.
  1. Weight fluctuations: Changes in body weight can influence your sweating patterns too. For example, gaining weight can potentially make sweatiness of your palms worse.
  1. Genetics: There is a significant genetic component to excessive sweating of your palms as well. If you have a family history of hyperhidrosis, it increases your likelihood of it happening to you, so do talk to your family if you have any concerns.

Do sweaty palms smell?

If you struggle with sweaty palms, a big source of worry can be whether the condition smells. As with sweat that occurs at other parts of the body, that all comes down to the bacteria residing on your skin. That’s because while sweaty palms themselves typically don’t have a distinct smell, when the bacteria break down the substances in sweat, it can lead to the production of body odour. That’s why good personal hygiene is key for avoiding a smell.

How to stop sweaty palms?

  1. Toxin injections: Injecting toxin into your palms might sound odd to anyone who thinks of the injections as only for wrinkles, but it’s a leading (and very successful) medical treatment for temporarily block sweat gland activity. Dr Renée Hoenderkamp is an expert in using toxin for the armpits, but it could also be used for the palms – as long as your practitioner is suitably trained.
  1. Iontophoresis: This non-invasive procedure to block sweat glands, delivers a mild electrical current to the skin, via passing it through water or a wet pad. You can speak to your GP for more information.  

How to stop your palms sweating with surgery?

For severe cases of excessive sweating that has not responded to other treatments, surgical procedures like sweat gland removal can be considered. Speak to your GP if you have any questions.

Are there any medical implications of excessively sweaty palms?

It is important to bear in mind that sweaty palms can be a sign of some underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or diabetes. If you are concerned and have any other symptoms of these conditions, please speak to your doctor. Also, don’t be afraid to seek medical advice if the severity of your sweaty palms is affecting the quality of your life and self-esteem. That way you can explore appropriate treatment options under the advisement of a professional.

How much, on average, would treating the concern cost?

Costs really depend on your chosen treatment, but antiperspirants are relatively inexpensive. Toxin injections tend to start around £200, although you should make sure to visit a practitioner who is experienced in using toxin for sweating. Depending on their location and years of training, this can push up the price.

What lifestyle changes could make a difference?

It’s a bit of a vicious cycle unfortunately, but because stress can exacerbate sweating, good stress management is really important for managing the condition. So, is recognising that’s it’s a natural process and often not something to worry too much about. If you tend to get sweaty palms due to nerves or anxiety, try building in relaxation techniques throughout your life, not just right before something like a big meeting. Avoiding any triggers that you may have noticed, such as spicy foods, caffeine, or alcohol, can also help you manage the condition. However, if you are really struggling, prescription oral medications are available for excessive sweating too, should you need them.

Are there products that help sweaty palms?

Sweaty palms can be a tricky concern to tackle using products, as they don’t lend themselves to traditional roll-on, or even spray antiperspirants in the same way as your armpits. However, you can still ask your doctor for a prescription-strength antiperspirant containing aluminium chloride, as this is the best ingredient for reducing sweating. Using absorbent powders or antiperspirant wipes can be a convenient way to tackle palm sweating too. Good general personal hygiene will help as well, so treat yourself to an antibacterial hand wash and hand sanitiser with scents that you love. 

Do at-home devices work for sweaty palms?

Some at-home electrical iontophoresis devices claim to address excessive sweating, but their effectiveness is not very well-supported clinically, and professional treatments or advice are likely to yield much better results.

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