Ongoing Torture, Make It Stop: My Palms Are Way Too Sweaty

By Island Hospital   |   Oct 9, 2019 5:49:57 PM

Ever been in a situation when your hands start to sweat? Or maybe when you are waiting for your health screening results? The doctors might shake your hand and hope you did not just come from the bathroom because your palms are more saturated than a sponge in water. So what is going on here?

You may find that your hands are constantly sweaty and have no idea of the cause of the excessive sweating.

Everyone sweats when it is hot outside, but some experience excessive sweating to the point that moisture may literally drip from their hands.

Sweating helps the body stays cool. In most cases, it is perfectly natural. People sweat more in warm temperatures, when they exercise, or in response to situations that make them nervous, angry, embarrassed, or afraid.

However, excessive hand sweating occurs without such triggers. Medically, the condition of having excessively sweaty palms is known as Palmar Hyperhidrosis. Those with palmar hyperhidrosis appear to have overactive sweat glands. The uncontrollable sweating can lead to significant discomfort, both physical and emotional.

Palmar Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition in which a person sweats excessively and unpredictably from their hands. People with palmar hyperhidrosis may sweat even when the temperature is cool or when they are at rest. This medical condition is an extremely stressful, embarrassing, and confidence-wrecking problem. From ruined paperwork to inappropriate slippery handshake, sweaty palms can negatively impact your social life, education, and career which can then lead to social anxiety and embarrassment and may even struggle to pick up a pen or turn a doorknob because their hands are so sweaty.

 “Sweaty Hands” has the most negatively impact on daily social life and it impairs one’s ability to function well.

Normally, a person sweats to help their body stay at a stable temperature. Without sweat, the body would overheat. That is why you sweat when you are outside on a sunny summer day or during an intense workout. People with hyperhidrosis, however, will sweat more than their bodies need.

The human body has two to five million eccrine sweat glands covering most of the skin. They automatically release fluid onto the skin surface when the body temperature rises. When the perspiration evaporates, the body cools down.

Specialised apocrine sweat glands are responsible for excessive sweating under the armpits.

Besides hot, humid weather, stress and anxiety, there are other triggers for sweaty palms and feet:

  • Caffeinated drinks and alcohol
  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Medicinal drugs (such as certain painkillers, cardiovascular drugs and antidepressants)
  • Menopause
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, nearly 5% of the world's population suffers from excessive sweating or palmar hyperhidrosis. That's right, 365 MILLION people are struggling with extreme sweating -- just like you!

Sweaty palms – or palmar hyperhidrosis – are caused by overactive nerves in the autonomic nervous system, which controls body functions like breathing and sweating. It is not quite clear what causes these nerves to become overactive. Doctors have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of palmar hyperhidrosis, but they do know it is related to overactivity of the sweat glands

Here are some of the most common causes of sweaty palms:

  • Genes: Sweaty palms is hereditary
  • Stress: Most of us have experienced sweaty palms when something stressful happens, such as an examination, a marriage proposal or speaking in public.
  • Low Blood Sugar: Your blood sugar issues are probably to be blamed for your palmar hyperhidrosis.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol and excessive sweating are highly related, it can worsen, or even trigger symptoms to begin.
  • Spicy food and Caffeine: They can be a trigger for excessive sweating, so it is a good idea to use it in moderation.
  • Thyroid Disease: If you suffer from thyroid disease, it is highly likely that you also suffer from excessive sweating. Hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease which causes your immune cells to attack your healthy cells, which then increases your body temperature.
  • Menopause or Perimenopause: Hot flushes and night sweats are a well-known part of the menopause and can cause excessive sweating on the palms, hands, feet, and rest of the body.
  • Medication induced: Antidrepression & Antipyschotic medication such as Tricyclic Antidepressant, Serotonin uptake inhibitor
  • Medical conditions: Conditions such as Chronic Liver Disease, Chronic Alcoholism, Lymphoma & Tuberculosis may also cause sweaty palms

To determine which kind of sweaty palms you have, our doctor at Island Hospital will ask about your medical history and run tests to measure your sweating. The next step is to figure a treatment plan most suitable to your conditions. Like most medical conditions, sweaty palms are different for everyone, and what works for one person might not work for someone else.

Sweat glands act as the body’s natural thermostat. When they suddenly go into overdrive, you get sweaty palms and feet. While this can be socially embarrassing, the good news is that excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, can be controlled with treatment.

If you suffer from excessive sweating, you may feel like you have tried everything. You may have lost hope. Although there is no straightforward explanation for the cause of hyperhidrosis, there are various treatment options for relieving excessive sweating.

  • Over-the-counter scented antiperspirants Deodorants do not stop sweating, but antiperspirants sprays do. Some prescription antiperspirants include aluminum chloride, which plugs the sweat glands. It can help to mask the unpleasant odour of sweat and reduce excessive perspiration for a day or two.
  • Botox is pretty common in treating sweaty palms and armpits by temporarily blocking sweat gland activity and one injection procedure, which just touches the skin's surface but results only last about four to six months and repeatedly injection are needed to sustain the effects. A common side effect includes temporary nerve blockage effect with weakness and numbness. The drawback to this treatment is that it can be uncomfortable or even painful, depending on your pain tolerance level

In patients for whom these treatments are ineffective, surgery may be recommended.

Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS)

Where all other options fail and severe sweating problems persist, our doctors may recommend a surgical procedure known as Endoscopic Transthoracic Sympathectomy (ETS), a minimally invasive procedure to remove or cut a section of the main sympathetic chain in the chest, a nerve that controls the sweat glands. This surgery is the only way to stop hyperhidrosis permanently.

“We will recommend it only when the sweating is very severe and when it affects the patient’s work or lifestyle. Our team of surgeons is highly skilled in endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) ".

  • The procedure eliminates the pathway from the nervous system to the palms of the hands which have led the body to have excessive sweating in the palms.
  • Procedure is safe in expert hands and provide almost immediate results of dry hand.
  • Surgery is minimally invasive by utilising thoracoscopy techniques with minimal tissue disruption and handlings.
  • Done under general anaesthesia, the operation involves cutting the sympathetic nerves that control the sweat glands through a tiny incision in the armpit.
  • ETS is absolutely prescise to disconnect the exact level of sympathetic nerves to achieve the result of dry hands and not disturb other nerve function to other parts of the body.
  • Patients can usually resume their normal activity within a few days.
  • By far the most effective and fastest way to resolve Essential Hyperhidrosis.

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If sweaty palms are not treated, it can lead to complications.

  • Nail infections: Especially toe nail infections.
  • Warts: Skin growths caused by the HPV (human papillomavirus).
  • Bacterial infections: Especially around hair follicles and between the toes.
  • Heat rash: An itchy, red skin rash that often causes a stinging or prickling sensation. Heat rash develops when sweat ducts become blocked and perspiration is trapped under the skin.
  • Psychological impact: Excessive sweating can affect the patient's self-confidence, job and relationships. Some individuals may become anxious, emotionally stressed, socially withdrawn, and even depressed.

Usually, when people find out they have a medical condition they are not familiar with, the first thing they want to know is how it will affect them – if it will be dangerous to them in any way or shorten their life span.

Sweaty palms may not pose a danger to health, but wet hands make social interaction awkward. While it does not have any major treat to your health, what it can do is affect your quality of life. It is a life-altering condition for the people who suffer from it.

If you suspect that your palms sweat way too much, talking to a doctor about your options is your best bet. There are plenty of help out there, and there is really no need to be embarrassed. Remember, you are not the only one with this condition.

Everyone’s experience with this condition is different. So please be patient, explore all your options, explore combinations of options, adjust techniques, and work with your doctor to find the best treatments for your individual situation.

If you are dealing with excessive sweat all the time, make an appointment today with our doctors today.

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Dr. Badrul Hisham Yeap

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General Surgery
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Dr. Goh Tiong Meng

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Prof. Dr. Wong Twee Juat

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Dr. Abdul Gafoor Mubarak

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