Sweaty Hands

Excessive sweating of the hands or palms, also called palmar hyperhidrosis, is an annoying, embarrassing, and confidence-wrecking problem. From ruined paperwork to slippery handshakes, sweaty palms can negatively impact your social life, your education, and your career.

But there are treatments available, the treatments work, and you have a number of treatments for sweaty palms to choose from.

The first line-of-defense against sweaty palms are antiperspirants. That's right, you CAN use antiperspirants on your hands. Antiperspirants are non-invasive, topical (applied on top of your skin), and available in a number of different strengths including "regular" over-the-counter products, "clinical strength" over-the-counter products, and prescription products. Most physicians recommend that you start with the mildest formulations ("regular" over-the-counter products) and if they don't give enough symptom relief, work your way up to the stronger formulations (prescriptions). How you use antiperspirants is also important, we have more information available about this, but the most important tidbits are: apply antiperspirants at night before bed and apply to totally dry skin to avoid irritation.

If antiperspirants don't give you the relief you need, your next option is iontophoresis. Used correctly and adjusted to individual situations, iontophoresis has proven to have a very high success rate (83% according to the American Academy of Dermatology) for people with sweaty palms and/or sweaty feet.

A medical device is used to perform iontophoresis either in a doctor's office or at home. The device utilizes pans of water to conduct a mild electrical current through the skin's surface. It's not entirely understood how or why iontophoresis works, but it's believed that the electric current and mineral particles in the water work together to microscopically thicken the outer layer of the skin, which blocks the flow of sweat to the skin's surface. Once this sweat output is blocked or interrupted, sweat production on the palms and soles is, often suddenly and dramatically, "turned off".

Another treatment option for sweaty palms is Botox. (also known as onabotulinumtoxinA). An experienced medical professional can inject Botox into your palms to dramatically reduce sweating. Effects are lasting (about 6 months) but the injections can be painful for most. To help make the injections more comfortable, experienced medical professionals are turning to a simple icing technique, but you should be aware that discomfort during injections is a potential drawback of Botox for palmar hyperhidrosis.

The use of Botox for the treatment of hyperhidrosis is most effective when performed by a physician who has received special training and who has experience with the procedure. To find a physician in your area who is familiar with hyperhidrosis treatments, use our Physician Finder.

While most people find that antiperspirants, iontophoresis, Botox injections, or a combination of the three are enough to manage excessive hand sweating, there are those who seek a more definitive course of action. If less invasive treatments have proven to be insufficient, endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) may be considered as a last resort. ETS has significant risks associated with it, particularly a side effect called compensatory sweating (irreversible excessive sweating on large areas of the body) and should only be used in extreme cases after a thorough trial of all other options.

We hope that you'll find the information on this site helpful as you search for the best way to manage your sweating problem. For updates about new research, the latest treatments, and daily management tips, be sure to subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, SweatSolutions. We also have an extensive library of hyperhidrosis articles from peer-reviewed medical journals, so you can see where we get our facts, and you can share reliable medical data with your physician.

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