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Excessive Sweating
   
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Sweaty hands

Sweaty Hands

Excessively sweaty hands are caused by the condition known as hyperhidrosis. Palmer (palm of the hand) hyperhidrosis is caused by a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system causing sweat glands in the hands to produce an excessive quantity of sweat. Cold, clammy hands are embarrassing and the condition causes great discomfort and shyness to many people that suffer from palmer hyperhidrosis. It is extremely embarrassing when you cannot shake hands with others and you leave wet prints on everything you touch. Hyperhidrosis can have devastating emotional effects on a person's life and can also cause effects such as dehydration and skin infections.
 
Individuals suffering from palmer Hyperhidrosis need to find out why their bodies are trying to cool down. Hyperhidrosis may be caused by psychological factors such as shyness, nervousness or even anger and these factors might aggravate an existing hyperhidrosis condition. Excessive hand sweating can render it difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to perform even the simplest tasks such as using the keyboard, tying one's shoes, and participating in sports like tennis and other games that require hand participation.
 
Severe sweaty palms can also cause challenges in some careers, like a chef not being able to handle a knife. In law enforcement, it may be challenging to use some of the finger printing technology. For sales persons, shop attendants and assistants, who have to greet and interact with customers all day, severely sweaty palms are extremely embarrassing and sometimes impossible to handle. Because of the excessive loss of water, individuals suffering from hyperhidrosis can face problems in an extremely hot and humid environment because they are at risk of becoming dehydrated. It is also hard for sufferers of the condition to play musical instruments because of the sweaty hands.
 

What You Can Do

Try finding out what triggers the excessive sweating. Anxiety and shyness are not the only emotions that can cause excessive sweating even a slight or normal change of feelings can be the cause of the problem. If it is possible, avoiding situations that aggravate the sweating will help to improve the condition.
 
Another way to combat the excessive sweating is to apply talc or baby powder to temporarily help absorb the sweat. However, in cases of excessive sweating there is a risk that it may leave a white paste. Aside from baby powder, there is also a special powder on the market designed for use in sports to keep a grip of the ball and racket that is a good alternative. Available in sports shops, the solution is applied as a liquid spray, but it transforms into a fine, dry white powder and is more effective than talc.
 
Besides powders, rubbing your palms with astringent and herbal oils such as cypress or geranium oils can also help alleviate the sweating. These oils are available at most health stores. Relaxing and meditation are also thought to help with the sweating, as well as, exercise and weight loss.
 
Alternatively, a 20% aluminum chloride solution can be applied to the hands, but it is important to use it correctly. In order to use it, you must wash and dry your palms thoroughly, using a hair dryer if you have one. Once the product is applied, it produces hydrochloric acid that could irritate the skin and tarnish jewelry. It is best to apply it while lying in bed since the sweating pores switch off when lying flat. The solution works by getting into the pores, so if sweat is still dripping out, then the solution cannot get in. It may be necessary to ask for assistance from someone else. It is important not to forget to apply the solution between the fingers. Once the solution is applied, it should be allowed to dry naturally, and then be washed off in the morning. Apply the solution every night at bedtime until the problem is reduced. This can take about 3-4 days. Once the solution starts working, it is only necessary to continue using it twice a week. Do not use the solution if you suspect you have an infection or sores on your palm.

What The Doctor Can Do

Sometimes all the above does not work and the symptoms persist. If you are really bothered by the excessive sweating, and nothing seems to work, then seek medical advice. You can visit your general doctor or someone who can recommend a psychologist, if the need arises.
 
In dealing with the psychological aspect of hyperhidrosis, you can visit a psychologist who can use medication to help you cope with anxiety and other emotional disturbances that trigger sweating. The psychologist can also use techniques such as hypnosis to help you overcome fears and tensions.
 
Iontophoresis is another available treatment that was developed in the 1950?s. When it was first developed, this therapy was difficult to obtain, but now, it is a readily available treatment in most hospital physiotherapy centers. The treatment involves placing your palms in a tub of tap water, through which a small current of electricity is passed through for about 15 minutes. At first, the treatment is time consuming since it needs to be carried out by a doctor every few days. Eventually, the treatment is only necessary once every 3-4 weeks, and a home kit can be purchased to do treatments at home. This may be expensive, however, so consult your physiotherapist to decide if it is the best option. It is important not to use a home made kit to avoid electrocuting yourself. The side effects of iontophoresis are skin tingling, redness, irritation and a burning sensation that does not occur in all patients. This treatment is not safe for pregnant women and people who have heart pace makers.
 
Another way the doctor can help you deal with hyperhidrosis is to use Botox. Botulism toxin injections (Botox, Dysport) are one of the most effective ways of dealing with seriously sweaty palms. The only disadvantage is that the injections have to be repeated after only a few weeks.  When injected into your palms, botulism toxin blocks signals from the nerves that turn on your sweat glands. The treatment is very uncomfortable but the pain is tolerable. It may take up to 12 tiny injections to stop or substantially reduce excessively sweaty hands for 2 - 8 months, depending on the person. After the injections have worn off, you will need to have repeat sessions. This is a new treatment so it may not be readily available at your local hospital, but you can look up areas where it is available. It also does not work on everyone, but for 9 out of 10 people, it greatly improves their quality of life.
 
There are also anti-cholinergic drugs that are fairly effective and work by blocking the nerves that are responsible for sweating. The side effects of these drugs include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and sedation side effects that could be considered worse than sweaty palms. The drug propantheline bromide is available only by doctor's prescription, but glycopyrronium bromide is also available and has fewer side effects.
 
The last option would be a sympathectomy surgical operation that aims to destroy the nerves that cause sweating at the palms. For people with seriously sweaty hands, this a more permanent solution that has a 95% success rate. Unlike in other cases of hyperhidrosis, the result is immediate; the patient wakes up with warm dry hands. Sympathectomy produces long term results which were proven in a study. After 14 years 73% of the patients were still satisfied with the results. The major drawback of sympathectomy surgery is that the body may end up compensating for not sweating on the hands by increasing sweating elsewhere, usually the trunk or the feet.