Man holding weights in a field, hand sweat

Why do hands sweat?

It can be a real interview killer – the dreaded ‘sweaty handshake’. And if you’re venturing into the gym, handling weights with sweaty palms can be downright risky.

So what causes it? And if you do suffer from it, what can you do to minimise its effects?

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What causes sweaty hands?

Basically, it’s down to our eccrine sweat glands. They’re concentrated in our hands, forehead and feet, and directly connected to our sympathetic nervous system.

So, whenever we’re stressed, nervous or excited, that’s a cue for beads of sweat on our brow, along with clammy hands and feet.

For some people, the problem is more focused on the hands, and more severe. This condition is medically defined as palmar hyperhidrosis. It can occur from birth, but it’s more likely to start in adolescence.

For some, the problem will go away with age. For others, it’ll stick around all their lives.

Whenever we’re stressed, nervous or excited, that’s a cue for beads of sweat on our brow, along with clammy hands and feet.
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What can you do to stop sweaty hands?

If you do suffer from sweaty palms, it may be hard to overcome completely. But there are a number of ways you can help keep it in check:

Wash your hands regularly

Rinsing with clean water is fine, unless your hands are actually dirty, as too much washing with soap will dry your skin.

Keep a pack of tissues handy

Carry these with you, so you can wipe your hands throughout the day.

Carry a pocket-size hand gel

To cleanse and dry your hands when you can’t get to a sink.

Keep some talcum powder in your bag

This can help absorb sweat and give your hands a better grip, so grab a small container from the baby items aisle.

Avoid wearing gloves

Unless it’s the depths of winter, try to not wear them – they’ll make your hands sweat more, as your skin won’t be able to breathe.

Try and deal with your stress

Easier said than done, perhaps. But since stress can be a big factor in sweating, tackling the cause head on can sometimes help.

If you’re still concerned about excessive hand sweating, talk to your doctor or another medical professional. They’ll be able to discuss what treatments may be available to you.