How to Manange Sweaty Hands and Feet

Having excessively sweaty hands and feet can become embarrassing, especially since shaking hands with each other is a socially acceptable way of greeting in our society. No one wants to grasp a person's sweaty hand and pretend they're not put off by it. This condition can potentially affect how people view you, especially at first glance. You can be viewed as being excessively nervous since being anxious is what usually causes your palms to sweat. Why does this condition occur only in some people and not all?

Why Do I Have Sweaty Hands and Feet?

The medical term for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis. Sweaty palms are a condition known as palmar hyperhidrosis while sweaty feet are called plantar hyperhidrosis. This condition can be divided into:

Primary Hyperhidrosis

In this case, there is no obvious cause of the excessive sweating. Some believe it is related to an overactive part of the nervous system and it could be hereditary. The sympathetic part of the nervous system controls all the body's functions that require no thought or control. It also regulates the body's temperature. If the body gets too hot, it sends signals via the brain to the sweat glands to cool the body down by releasing sweat to evaporate off the skin. The eccrine glands are one type of sweat gland and they are found mostly in the armpits, hands, feet and face. This is why you may suffer from hyperhidrosis in these areas.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis

The cause of this type of hyperhidrosis can be identified and attributed to a medical condition. It usually starts quite suddenly and affects a generalized area. The causes can be one of the following:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • A side effect of some medications, like antidepressants
  • Certain infections like HIV
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Blood cell or bone marrow disorders
  • Obesity
  • Withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol

ŸIt has been found that children that experience sweaty hands and feet grow up to experience generalized hyperhidrosis (all over the body).

When Do I Need to Seek Medical Help?

  • You experience chest pains or pressure in the chest area with the profuse sweating.
  • You experience unexplained sweating for prolonged periods (more than six months, at least once a week).
  • Sweating is accompanied by accelerated heart rate, chest pains, impaired breathing or a fever.
  • You experience a sudden weight loss.
  • You sweat excessively especially when you are asleep.

How to Cure Sweaty Hands and Feet

General Tips

  • The aluminum salts contained in most antiperspirants reduce perspiration. They can be applied to underarms, hands and feet. Use antiperspirants twice a day for effectiveness. There are prescription-strength ones available, too.
  • Avoid caffeine and spicy foods that may trigger the sweating.
  • Shower daily but avoid using very hot water to prevent the body from getting too hot.
  • Air your feet out regularly.
  • Keep shoes well-ventilated and dry. Ensure feet are completely dry before putting shoes on.
  • Cotton socks are better for absorbing sweat compared to synthetic fabrics.
  • Use relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing to control your anxiety which may trigger the sweating.
  • Wash your hands regularly and dry them thoroughly when the sweat starts to bother you.
  • Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer for when there is no water to wash your hands with. The alcohol will dry up the sweat.
  • Keep pocket-sized tissues to dry your hands especially in social situations where you may have to shake hands with others.
  • Use corn starch powder, baking soda or baby talc to absorb the sweat.
  • Avoid using oil-based products because they prevent the sweat from drying.
  • Avoid wearing gloves if they increase the sweatiness of your hands.

In addition to the tips above, there are some medical treatments for sweaty hands and feet.


This process involves sending a low electrical current under the skin using water. There are home kits available commercially. Initially, the treatment will have to be repeated a few times before you stop sweating. People who should not use iontophoresis: pregnant women, epileptics, those with metal implants, pacemakers or people with cardiac conditions.

Anticholinergic Medication

One of the side effects of this group of drugs is that it stops sweating. There are also other side effects like blurred vision, dry mouth, etc. Opt for this type of treatment only if you are not very active. If the sweating mechanism in the body is interfered and you require cooling, like an athlete, it could be dangerous to your health.

Botulinum Toxin Injections

Although used primarily to fill out wrinkles, they are also successful at blocking the nerves that cause sweating. You may require a few treatments but effects can last up to a year. Some doctors even use this treatment on the palms and soles of the feet. The injections can be painful and are only a temporary measure.

Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS) Procedure

It is the surgical removal of the specific nerves in the armpits that control the body's sweating mechanism. This is an extreme solution and should be considered last. It is possible that it fails to curb the sweating because when the sweating is disrupted in one area of the body, another area starts sweating excessively to compensate.

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