Sweaty hands can be a huge embarrassment for people who suffer with this problem. There’s nothing worse than shaking someone’s hand while yours is sopping wet with sweat, and then seeing their visible (shocked) reaction. Not only does a sweaty handshake let people know you’re nervous, it can make you fearful of any and all social situations outside your comfort zone.
Sweaty hands are also a problem when it comes to several activities where it’s important to be able to maintain a good grip on objects. In some situations, excessive hand sweating can even be dangerous as it can cause you to slip, fall, or drop heavy objects at the worst possible time.
What Causes Sweaty Hands?
Not much is known as to why some people sweat more in their hands than their face; or their armpits more than their hands, etc. Localized sweating tends to happen more during times when our body is just hot enough it only needs to release a little extra heat. Science just doesn’t know why one part of the body chooses to sweat at such times more than others.
The issue is definitely genetic, though. And it’s prompted by a marked raise in body temperature. Any kind of stress such as social situations, exercise and many stimulant drugs like caffeine and nicotine, all cause body temps to rise. Teenagers often experience localized hyperhidrosis during puberty, and most people find it stops as they reach adulthood.
Several diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney problems and others can also cause the sudden onset of sweaty hands or excess sweating in general, since all cause metabolic disruption.
Tips to Prevent Sweaty Hands From Starting
You might be unknowingly doing things that promote excessive localized sweating in the hands. Try making the following lifestyle changes before resorting to more costly methods that may be detrimental to your short and long term health.
Try meditation, yoga and workout more often, to help remove excess cortisol (stress hormone) from your body. Learn to relax in situations where you’d normally feel stressed out. This takes practise.
Cut out hand moisturizers
There are so many hand moisturizers out there that claim they won’t leave hands greasy. This is just a sales tactic and the only people who don’t get sweaty, greasy hands after using them are people who don’t have sweaty hands in the first place!
Cut out caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants. They only make excessive hand sweating worse. Stimulants raise your body temperature, which is the reason your hands sweat in the first place.
When lifestyle changes can’t stop sweaty hands, it’s time to take things up a notch and try to treat the issue.
8 Tips to Stop Sweaty Hands
1. Wash your hands often
It’s worth noting that the more you wash your hands, the more likely you are to develop the symptoms of being too dry such as flaky skin, brittle nails, and rashes. However, when you’re suffering from chronic sweaty hands, the trade off is often worth it.
Use a natural soap when possible, and wash your hands whenever you get the chance. When you feel your hands getting sweaty, try to wash with cool water and run it over your hands for at least 60 seconds to create a cooling action.
2. Always carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Alcohol has the same cooling effect on the skin as water does. It will also dry the hands instantly, so be wary of using it too much, as this could cause dry skin issues, too.
The added benefit of carrying sanitizer is that you don’t have to rush to the bathroom right before social situations where sweaty hands can be an embarrassment. Another benefit is that alcohol kills bacteria, so your hands won’t take on an unpleasant odor from the sweating.
3. Try to keep a small personal, portable fan nearby
This obviously won’t always be possible, in each and every situation you find yourself in. Our hands get sweaty when our body temperature suddenly rises, such as social and other stressful situations.
A small portable desk fan like this is perfect for almost any situation where sweaty hands might occur. The linked fan runs off high-capacity lithium batteries and can also be used as a USB pass-through device when you’re near an available charging port.
4. Powder your hands up
This might just be the least desirable option, aside from drugs or surgery, but it’s an effective one used by many people. Take some baby or talcum powder and give your hands a generous dosing of it. Smooth the powder around by rubbing and clapping your hands together over a sink.
Slough off as much excess as you can, so your hands don’t look too abnormal. Put powder in your work, winter and dish gloves too, to prevent excess moisture.
5. Clinical strength antiperspirants
Putting clinical strength antiperspirant on your hands might not seem like the most desirable thing to do. However, this is a method to stop sweaty hands that’s used with success by people all over the world. A spray-on antiperspirant would obviously be preferable to other products, but anything containing aluminum zirconium should prove effective at curbing excess sweating.
Over the counter antiperspirants may also be effective, if you notice you only get sweaty hands in certain situations. Degree is a highly reviewed brand that might be worth trying. Look for “clear” or “ultraclear” on the label, so you don’t end up with a bunch of flaking white junk on your hands after it dries.
6. Prescription drugs
Obviously, you need to go talk to your doctor if prescription drugs seem to be your only option to stop excessive hand sweating. There are several anticholergenic drugs that have shown success in treating localized hyperhidrosis. However, keep in mind that some recent studies have shown regular use of this type of treatment may lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia down the road.
Beta blockers are also another option. They reduce body temperature by keeping blood pressure and other bodily processes that are triggered by stress at lower levels. Some people have success with using beta blockers to reduce excessive sweating, but keep in mind they also lower blood pressure, which can lead to dizziness and an increased risk of fainting.
7. ETS surgery
It should go without saying that this should be the last option you consider. However, for those diagnosed with “Palmar Hyperhidrosis” (Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy), this might be the only option, aside from religiously applying the methods discussed already. If ETS seems like the only viable treatment for your situation, visit the International Hyperhidrosis Society to learn more about the surgery and locate a surgeon in your area for a consultation.
Keep in mind that people who undergo ETS surgery often develop what’s called compensatory sweating in other areas of the body. This is where the body compensates for its inability to sweat through the hands by passing the excess heat to another area of the body. The sweat still has to go somewhere, after all, so this is food for thought worth considering long and hard before putting your hands under the knife.
Please don’t entertain this option. Botox injections have been shown to temporarily prevent sweating in the area they’re applied. However, those benefits can last as much as 3 months, and as little as a couple of days.
Worse, Botox injections can bring with them unbearable pain. Pain that requires medications such as opiods that will cause you to sweat even worse. ETS surgery makes way more sense than the temporary benefits and potential long term pain of Botox when trying to prevent excessive sweating of the hands.
If all your attempts to stop sweaty hands fail, don’t let this problem get in the way of your life. A lot of people live with sweaty hands and, despite a few bad apples, most people understand that not everyone is cool-as-a-cucumber all the time.
Don’t let excessive hand sweating get you down. There’s far worse things in life that you could have to face every day!