What are sweaty palms?

Primary palmar hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that is commonly referred to as sweaty palms. It is characteristic feature is excessive sweating form the palms. It may seldom be mild, but more often than not patients would have their hands dripping with sweat. It may be associated with excessive sweating from the soles of feet or armpits or both.

How common are sweaty palms?

Sweaty palms affects people all over the globe. The incidence is about 1% in the western world. In the far-east Asia, it affects 2-4 % of the population. In India, it is estimated to affect 1-2 % of our people.

How do sweaty palms affect health?

Regardless of which part is affected, excessive sweating is a nuisance to those who suffer from it. Of these, palmar sweating (sweaty palms) is the most incapacitating.

Primary idiopathic palmar hyperhidrosis has no serious threat to life. However, there are other emotional and physical disabilities arising from its nuisance.

Patients are not only uncomfortable, but often socially and professionally embarrassed by it e.g. while shaking hands, writing, playing musical instruments, handling paper, painting, using electronics, computers, mobile phones etc. The problem usually begins in childhood and gradually progresses during the teens and adulthood.

The sweating is usually precipitated by some emotional or mental stimulus e.g. writing an exam, giving an interview, shaking hands with a social or business acquaintance etc. It is a lot more when the person is outdoors in the sun or in a warm place, but can be surprising nasty even within the confines of an air-conditioned room.

Excessive sweating from the palms and the soles are predominantly due to emotional stimuli (emotional sweating) and are seldom or never noticed during sleep. Excessive sweating from the rest of the body occurs due to thermal stimuli (thermal sweating) and can occur anytime. The armpits exhibits both thermal and emotional sweating.