Excessive, uncontrollable sweating of the hands or palms, is called palmar hyperhidrosis. This medical condition is an extremly stressful, embarrassing, and confidence-wrecking problem. From ruined paperwork to slippery handshakes, sweaty palms can negatively impact your social life, education, and career.
It's proven and published that palmar hyperhidrosis has the most significant negative impact on patients' lives of any dermatologic condition.
But there are treatments available, the treatments work, and you have a number of choices.
The first line-of-defense against sweaty palms is an antiperspirant. 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. You may have already tried the mildest formulations ("regular" over-the-counter products) and likely didn't get much relief. The next step is to try a stronger formulation like CertainDri.
But before you work your way up to even stronger formulations (prescriptions) we suggest that you make sure you are using products to optimize their effectiveness and--importantly--minimize irritation. In fact, how you use antiperspirants is so important, we have a whole section dedicated to it, but the most important tidbits are:
- Apply antiperspirants at night before bed
- Apply to completely dry skin
- Never wrap or occlude your hands when you have antiperspirants on them. Doing that is a sure-fire way to seriously irritate your skin.
If antiperspirants don't give you the palmar hyperhidrosis relief you need, your next option is iontophoresis. When the right device is used, and used correctly, iontophoresis has been proven to have impressive success rates (81% reduction in sweating according to a published studiy) for people with sweaty palms. Read all about it on our iontophoresis page, but here's a summary:
- A medical device is used to perform iontophoresis in a doctor's office and/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".
- Your doctor can write the prescription for the device which you then provide to the manufacturer when you are ready to purchase your own.
- Always mention the International Hyperhidrosis Society when you place your order to be certain you are given the best price and service. You can also check our Fan Fave Products page to see if there are any coupon codes available.
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. To help make the injections more comfortable, experienced medical professionals are turning to a simple icing and/or vibration technique, but be aware that discomfort during injections is a potential drawback of Botox treatment for palmar hyperhidrosis.
The use of Botox for the treatment of hyperhidrosis is most effective when performed by a healthcare professional who has received special training from the International Hyperhidrosis Society and who has experience with the procedure. To find a physician, nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) in your area who is familiar with hyperhidrosis treatments, use our Physician Finder. And if you want to find one who has attended our Master Class in Hyperhidrosis, look for the "IHHS-Educated" notation in the Physician Finder search results. You can also use the Advanced Search button to search for only those who have received training by the International Hyperhidrosis Society.
While most people find that antiperspirants, iontophoresis, Botox injections, or a custom combination of these 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, however, 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.
As of now, the options for treating palmar hyperhidrosis are not ideal. That's why we continue to advocate for hyperhidrosis research and donations. Both are vital if we are to finally find a safe cure for palmar hyperhidrosis.
We hope that you find the information on this site helpful and inspiring as you search for the best way to manage your sweating problem. For updates about new hyperhidrosis research, the latest hyperhidrosis treatments, and daily management tips, be sure to sign up to get our blog emails. 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.