Have You Ever Wondered What Causes Sweaty Palms?

Sweaty palms can certainly cause their share of embarrassing moments for you, not to mention the anxiety you go through leading up to meeting new people and knowing that you have to shake their hand. It’s no wonder that many of us become reclusive, and try to do all we can to avoid social gatherings and business networking events. The list of embarrassing experiences really could go on and on, from playing individual and team sports, to the simple act of just holding a pen, but the most important thing you can do is to take action and put an end to your sweaty palms.

What Causes Sweaty Palms – What this post will cover

What Causes Sweaty PalmsThis post is not going to specifically cover the treatments for your sweaty hands, we have that covered in other areas of this website, but we do mention some of your options near the end of this post. As the title suggests, we are going to focus on what causes sweaty palms. Otherwise known as palmar hyperhidrosis, which is a condition that affects approximately 1% of the U.S. population, it is still somewhat unknown as to exactly what causes sweaty palms, and there are still many people and experts in healthcare that believe it is caused by a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system that causes the sweat glands in the hands to produce sweat unnecessarily.

The bottom line is that when you sweat, your body is basically doing so in order to help regulate the temperate in your body and help everything run smoothly. It’s important to remember that our body has millions of sweat glands, and more than half of them are located in your hands. When your body becomes tense, stressed, or over-active, whether that be through physical exertion, high temperatures, or something stress related, your sweat glands release sweat to help cool the body back down to its ideal temperature range.

Going back 15-25 years ago, the general consensus in the medical field was that palmar hyperhidrosis was primarily a psychosomatic illness. As technology and studies on human beings and behavior have been conducted over the years, this theory is not shared by very many people nowadays. The focus of the root issue of sweaty palms is attributed to psychological factors, and the knock-on effect that those who already suffer from sweaty palms have their condition exacerbated because when they are experiencing a social situation that they are uncomfortable with, the stress induced by the fact that they have sweaty hands then creates more sweating to occur. In effect you end up in a catch 22, because you start off with good intentions of this not happening to you, you feel your hands start to sweat, that then stressing you out even more, and so the sweating gets worse and worse.

The most likely cause of your sweaty palms, and that includes other forms of hyperhidrosis, such as sweaty armpits, and sweaty feet, is an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for controlling most of your body’s internal organs, and it releases certain chemicals like adrenaline, it increases your heart rate, constricts your blood vessels, and of course, triggers your body to sweat. If you would like a more in-depth overview of how the Sympathetic nervous system works, Wikipedia has a whole page dedicated to it here.

So the chances are that you have an overactive sympathetic nervous system which basically means that your palms get sweaty when others don’t, because your internal system responds to stimuli too easily. As we mentioned earlier, it tends to become more of a psychological (mental/emotional) rather than a physiological (physical/bodily) issue. I know, those two words are almost spelled the same, and I had a heck of a time differentiating between the two with spell check! Anyway, back to what I was saying, you generally have to work on some mental/emotional things, and as well as seeking physical treatment for your sweaty palms.

In summary, there are some good e-books out there that can help you conservatively manage and control the mental and emotional aspects of your sweaty palms, and they are definitely worth reading because many people can take control of the situation by training themselves mentally to do so. In more severe cases, it is beneficial to also seek iontophoresis treatment which has very high success rates for palmar hyperhidrosis cases. In addition to these two types of treatments, both of which can be self-administered, you could also explore medically prescribed drugs, botox, or surgery, all of which have helped many sweaty palms sufferers to lead a normal and fulfilling life again.

People who have severe palmar hyperhidrosis experience sweaty palms even when the body should not, for any physiological reason, be trying to cool down. This can cause severe discomfort and embarrassment and can get in the way of performing certain everyday tasks. Though sweaty palms are treatable through a number of different procedures, there is no complete cure, and most people continue to live with the condition throughout their lives.

As I quite frequently do at the end of each post I write, I ask that you please be open and share with the community in the comments section, any experiences you or someone you know is currently suffering with, or has suffered from in the past relating to sweaty palms. Even if you just let us know the reasons why you typed in: what causes sweaty palms in order to find this page of our website, we more than welcome any and all comments pertaining to the subject matter of this post.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Mead March 13, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I’ve often wondered what causes sweaty palms but pretty much boiled it down to nervousness, which in part I was correct 🙂 Thanks for sharing the other reasons that cause it, because I have often wondered whether it is hereditary.


Ester Day March 20, 2013 at 5:30 am

I just wanted to contribute something that has worked for me personally which is on your list of things you can do to help with sweaty palms. I was diagnosed with diabetes and long story short I went on a high fiber diet since this is supposed to help prevent diabetes. It is also helpful for other things as well and since I also suffered quite a bit with sweaty palms, after I increased my daily intake of dietary fiber, and now maintain it at a much higher level each day, the wetness in my palms is virtually non-existent. Thanks for some of the other tips which I will also try too, especially since I like tea.


David March 22, 2013 at 6:29 am

Thanks for stopping by Ester, and I certainly appreciate your comments and for sharing what has worked for you. Funnily enough I ended up being told I had to go on a high fiber diet because of IBS. I had a target each day of how much fiber I needed to be getting each day, it was about 25-30 grams. I always kicked the day off with some All Bran since it has about 11-12 grams of dietary fiber.


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