What Causes Palm Sweating?

The medical name for the problem of palm sweating is palmar hyperhidrosis. This medical condition is an extremely stressful, embarrassing and distrustful issue. From messing around with paperwork to slipping hands when shaking hands, sweaty palms can negatively impact your social life, education, and career.

What is palm sweating?

Sweating is the body’s way of cooling itself, and it happens to everyone. Palmar sweating, medically known as palmar hyperhidrosis , is a condition in which the affected person’s palms sweat much more than necessary to cool, sometimes to the point of dripping. Although palm sweating is normal in situations such as extreme stress, fever, heavy exercise or a side effect of a drug used, in some cases it can be a chronic problem with no clear cause.

Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, can also affect other parts of the body, such as the soles of the feet ( plantar hyperhidrosis ), the groin, and armpits ( axillary hyperhidrosis ). Plantar hyperhidrosis is usually associated with palmar hyperhidrosis (sweating of the palms), but different parts of the body can also sweat profusely, along with the palms.

While sweaty palms can be embarrassing and frustrating, it is not dangerous in itself. However, if excessive sweating of the palms and soles is the result of another medical condition, you may need treatment. If the problem starts to worsen, it is important to see a doctor and get appropriate diagnosis/treatment. Your doctor will give you the information you need about treatment options.

If palm sweating is accompanied by other serious symptoms such as dizziness, chest pain , nausea, or difficulty breathing, it may be a sign of a heart attack. Therefore, if your palms are sweating excessively with symptoms like these, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible and even go to the emergency room if necessary.

What other symptoms can accompany palm sweating?

Palm sweating symptoms usually begin in childhood or adolescence and are often a chronic problem. When there is no underlying cause, it is called primary focal hyperhidrosis. Sometimes excessive sweating of the palms and soles is a symptom of another health problem or a side effect of a medication you are using, and this is called secondary hyperhidrosis. Each of these types of hyperhidrosis can have its own unique symptoms.

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Symptoms of primary focal hyperhidrosis

People with sweaty palms may experience excessive sweating that drips down their hands. This can interfere with grasping objects or cause an embarrassing handshake.

Symptoms of primary focal hyperhidrosis include:

  • Discoloration: The skin on the palms may be pale or sometimes pinkish.
  • Maceration: Due to cellular damage caused by excess moisture, the skin can become extremely fragile and crack easily.
  • Bilateral: Sweating occurs symmetrically on both sides of the body.
  • Frequency: Excessive sweating occurs at least once a week for six months or more.

A person with sweaty palms may experience excessive sweating in other parts of the body as well. For example, someone with palmar hyperhidrosis may have excessive sweating on the bottom of their feet, called plantar hyperhidrosis. This is very common – more than half of patients with sweaty palms have palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis together, meaning they suffer from sweating of both the palms and soles. Sometimes excessive sweating can also affect the armpits, head and groin.

Symptoms of secondary hyperhidrosis

In addition to the primary focal hyperhidrosis symptoms, a person with secondary hyperhidrosis may experience additional symptoms such as:

  • Excessive sweating during the night
  • Exacerbation of palm sweating
  • Sweating that also affects different parts of the body

Symptoms to be taken seriously

In some cases, sweaty palms may occur with more serious symptoms that should be evaluated by a doctor immediately, such as:

  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • Nausea

What can cause sweaty palms?

There are two types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis. Palmar hyperhidrosis (palm sweating) may fall into one of these categories.

Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by another health condition or a side effect of a medication the person is taking. On the other hand, primary focal hyperhidrosis is when excessive sweating is the condition itself – this is the primary problem.

Causes of primary focal hyperhidrosis

When the cause of excessive palm sweating is primary focal hyperhidrosis, the sweating usually has no medical or health-related cause. Palm sweating can be inherited (genetic), meaning that if there is no other explanation for excessive sweating, it may be inherited in your family.

If palm sweating is not genetically in your family history, it may occur spontaneously. But still, keep this in mind: It can happen to family members without your knowledge, as people are often reluctant to talk to others about their symptoms (especially if it’s a sensitive symptom like sweating).

Causes of secondary hyperhidrosis

In secondary hyperhidrosis, the person may have another medical condition that results in excessive sweating, or the person may be taking a medication that causes sweaty palms as a side effect. Also, palm sweating can be a side effect of opioid withdrawal.

Secondary causes of palm sweating include:

  • Diabetes or low blood sugar
  • nervous system disorders
  • excessive alcohol use
  • heart or lung disease
  • hot flashes due to menopause
  • overweight, obesity
  • Problems with the thyroid
  • some types of cancer

serious reasons

If excessive sweating of the palms or soles is accompanied by serious symptoms such as chest pain, it may be a sign of an emergency (such as a heart attack), so you may need to go to the emergency room immediately if you experience such symptoms.

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When to see a doctor for sweaty palms?

While it can be embarrassing to talk about sweating, it’s important to talk to your doctor if your palms are sweating profusely—even if you have no other symptoms. If you have no symptoms other than sweating, you can talk to your GP about the problem, and if you have other symptoms, your GP will refer you to a relevant specialist.

Situations where you should see a doctor

When palm sweating is a result of primary focal hyperhidrosis, the condition is not dangerous or life-threatening. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, especially if they cause stress or anxiety in your daily life. Excessively sweaty palms (and sometimes associated sweating on the soles of the feet) can affect your quality of life both socially and emotionally, but it’s not something you have to deal with forever without help. Your doctor will give you the necessary information about treatment options.

Situations where you need emergency medical help

If your sweating happens while you sleep at night, gets worse suddenly, or happens on only one side of your body, you may have secondary hyperhidrosis. This means that excessive sweating is caused by another health condition. Your doctor may want to do some tests on you for certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or cancer. Although these conditions are not immediately life-threatening, it is still very important to get diagnosed and treated as soon as you start noticing symptoms.

Situations where you need to call 112

If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack such as dizziness, chest pain, difficulty in breathing or nausea with palm sweating, it is recommended to call 911 immediately.

How is palm sweating diagnosed?

Often times, your doctor will be able to diagnose primary focal hyperhidrosis after discussing your symptoms and medical history with you. Your doctor may also want to do some tests to determine if you have another underlying medical condition that is causing your palms to sweat.

To help you make a diagnosis, your doctor may ask many questions during your appointment, such as:

  • What exactly are your symptoms?
  • How long have you been sweating?
  • Do you also have perspiration on the soles of your feet?
  • When do your symptoms typically appear?
  • Do you sweat while sleeping at night?
  • Does the sweating happen on one side or both?
  • Is there anything that worsens or alleviates your symptoms?
  • Does anyone else in your family have sweaty palms?

Tests for diagnosis

If your doctor suspects that you may have an underlying condition that is causing your palms to sweat, they may want you to have some tests, such as:

  • Diagnostic tests: Blood, urine, or other laboratory tests can help your doctor determine if you have another underlying health problem.
  • Sweat tests: A starch-iodine test will show exactly where excess sweat is, and a paper test will measure how much sweat your body produces.
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The results of such tests can help your doctor diagnose the underlying cause of palm sweating. Sometimes, however, no cause can be found.

How is palm sweating treated?

Treatment options for sweaty palms will vary depending on what triggers this condition.

If you have a health problem that causes palm sweating, your doctor may recommend that you control this problem and alleviate excessive sweating. If one of the medications you take is causing your palms to sweat, it may be possible to change the medication, but this will be decided by your doctor.

Even if there is no underlying medical condition, palm sweating can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and in many cases cause stress and anxiety at school, work or social situations. The goal of treatment is to reduce excessive sweating to improve quality of life.

Treatment options

Various options are available for the treatment of palm sweating, and some people may need to combine more than one treatment to effectively reduce sweating.

Possible treatment options for sweaty palms generally include:

  • Medicines that can prevent sweating: These types of medicines are usually applied to the affected skin area in the morning and the areas where the medicine is used are washed in the evening.
  • Nerve-blocking drugs: These drugs, taken orally (by mouth), can prevent certain nerves from communicating and producing extra sweat.
  • Some antidepressants: Some antidepressants can reduce sweating as well as reduce anxiety, which can make sweating worse.
  • Botox: Botox injected into the hands can block the nerves that cause excessive sweating. This treatment usually lasts from six months to a year and then needs to be repeated.
  • Iontophoresis: Iontophoresis is the process of a special device emitting a low-intensity electric current through mineralized water, thereby blocking the sweat glands in your hands. It may take several weeks to see results from this treatment. The electric current is so low that it is not a safety issue.
  • Surgery: A surgeon may perform spinal surgery to block the nerves in the palm that cause sweating, but this is usually a last resort treatment.

Many of these treatments also have side effects. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the pros, cons, and side effects of each treatment before deciding which option is right for you. When choosing treatment, you also need to consider the extent to which excessive sweating affects your daily life.

What are the possible complications of palm sweating?

People with sweaty palms due to primary focal hyperhidrosis are not typically in danger of serious complications. Although excessive sweating can increase the risk of skin infections, often the biggest problem with sweating is embarrassment and anxiety.

People with secondary hyperhidrosis may have another underlying health problem that may get worse without treatment. If you have sweating problems along with other symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor so that you can get the right diagnosis and treatment. Because if you go untreated, your risk of complications will increase.

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