Damp hands - causes and therapy for sweaty hands

Hyperhidrosis palmaris is not an exotic type of palm, but sweaty hands. Those affected have constantly wet hands, and even if it is not a threatening illness, the psychological consequences are immense - and the excessive sweating of the hands also stresses social life.

Slippery hand and stinky foot

Heavy sweating has its own effects in the respective regions. Extreme armpit sweat and sweaty feet lead to an odor that other people and often those affected also find unpleasant.

Sweaty feet or wet armpits expose the sweaty people to the mockery of their classmates, especially during puberty, and nicknames such as "Axel sweat" or "cheese curd" spread quickly.

With heavy hand sweat, it is not the smell, but the wet that is the reason for social problems. Sweaty feet can be hidden in public with lace-up shoes, while wet hands lead to situations that burden those affected - for example, if they shake hands and the other then dries his hand.

A vicious circle

In addition, wet hands are rightly considered a sign of nervousness and fear. Because these conditions lead to hand perspiration in people with normal working sweat glands. In people with excessive wet hands, this psychological component can also play a role, but need not.

However, they are often caught in a vicious cycle: if they are afraid of sweating because they fear the social consequences, this increases the sweating.

A taboo subject

Excessive sweat is a taboo subject. Clarification would be necessary. While the general public often equates increased armpit and foot sweat with poor hygiene, excessive sweating on the hands is a sign of a lack of self-confidence.

Both contain a half-truth: Even people whose perspiration works normally smell intensely if they do not wash their feet and armpits, do not change socks and T-shirts.

But if you suffer from excessive perspiration, whether on your hands, armpits or feet, there is nothing you can do for it: your feet stink when you wash them and change socks as often as others, and your classmates cover your nose even when you do she washes her armpits in the morning, and the damp handshake remains even when he has no social phobia.

In other words: if you chronically release too much sweat, your hands will not only wet under stress, but also when you relax completely.

Sweating under stress

Wet hands are generally not abnormal, but a natural reaction like any fear sweat. If the sweat glands work normally, our hands are rarely wet.

Our body produces more sweat when we get the information "stress". The biochemical causes for this are very complex and have not yet been fully researched. One reason for this is what traditionally means "cooling the mind" or "coming down" - that's why we tip a bucket of cold water over the head of someone who is in a rage.

Excitement, through anger, fear or nervousness, causes our blood circulation to work at full speed, and the body heats up. Sweat formed in humans with their bare skin as their own cooling system. So we sweat to cool off.

Causes of extremely wet hands

The main cause of chronically wet hands is overactive sweat glands - at least every second affected person has a genetic predisposition to this, and the sweat glands work harder from birth.

Triggers can also be emotional in nature. Even people whose sweat glands work normally, but who quickly “get out of their own way” or react anxiously, have more sweaty hands than people who deal with stressful situations more relaxed.

In addition, there are specific illnesses and physical triggers: heavy obesity can cause excessive sweating as well as circulatory problems or an overactive thyroid, heart disease as well as psychological trauma.

With these conditions, it makes little sense to treat the wet hands separately, but to go to the cause, especially because heart diseases and severe circulatory diseases have far more dangerous effects than a wet handshake.

Frey syndrome

The Frey syndrome, medically cumbersome referred to as auriculotemporal syndrome or also as gustatory sweating, mainly indicates extreme sweating in the face and neck, but can also show up on the hands.

Those affected sweat when they take in taste stimuli, i.e. eat cake, suck on ice cream or chew a steak.

The cause is a misdirection of nerve impulses. These facial nerve impulses normally serve to stimulate the flow of saliva - the water comes together in our mouths.

However, if these nerves are damaged after an accident or an operation and regenerate incorrectly, i.e. if they form contact with nerve fibers that trigger the sweat flow, they will miss their actual "contact person", namely the salivary gland.

The transmitter substance acetylcholine remains the same, but the chemical impulses are now linked to the sweat glands. If the patient removes parts of the salivary glands, the parotid or parotid glands become inflamed, or if nerves are severed as a result of trauma, the body sometimes "repairs" its nervous system incorrectly.

Consequences in everyday life

People who exude more hand perspiration than the average, but not to an extreme extent, find this annoying. However, as a rule, they therefore have no psychological, social or functional problems.

Social etiquette

Heavy sweating, however, limits social life as well as professional life. On the one hand, this applies to social etiquette: Whoever leaves a damp handshake at the business partner, who leaves a sweat film on the soup ladle at the buffet, who "drags" the steering wheel of the shared company car, accidentally gets into situations that are embarrassing to him or others.

Functional problems

Extreme hand perspiration also leads to functional problems: For example, those affected have problems holding a glass or lifting weights in the sports center. That harms them also at work. What is just "a violation of etiquette" elsewhere can become dangerous wherever a dry hand is necessary.

A roofer who can't hold on to the scaffolding, a carpenter, a hammer or even a forest worker who slips his ax: in such professions, a damp hand can lead to injuries or even death.

Wet hands also hinder office work - not life-threatening, but work performance suffers and those affected are frustrated. With wet fingers I slip on the laptop keyboard and the touch screen, have problems switching gears when driving and cannot hold the shaver properly.


As a seller and / or customer advisor, it also hurts if I put my product in the customer's hand with a “sweat cover”. This has an unsanitary effect on foods, but does not promote sales of other articles. Whether I am a clerk at the citizens' office leaving sweat stains on an express letter or spending wet banknotes in the bank - it is not optimal.

Psychological consequences

Everyday problems lead to psychological stress. Those affected are afraid of the uncomfortable situations. The excessively sweaty people often suffer from ridicule and social ostracism during puberty.

Key experiences are often memorized in the form of a trauma: be it the dance school in which the dream partner spiked her hands after the longed-for choice of women or the clique where the "buddy" demonstratively pulled his hand away when "Glitschi" handed it to him wanted to.

In extreme cases, those affected avoid all situations that could become embarrassing and thus all social contacts. Or their self-esteem drops.

Sexual rapprochement

However, social inhibitions can also relate to certain areas in which those affected have had negative experiences. One of the first sexual advances in puberty is holding hands. Very few young people have sufficient self-confidence in this early phase, and this applies to both.

Few 14-year-olds who like each other as such will respond to a wet hand on their knees by saying "Your hypertrichosis doesn't bother me" and neither will those affected say "if my hand is wet, it is due to excessive perspiration". If the admirer now says "this is wet" and perhaps does not mean it negatively at all, this can lead to the person concerned refraining from further attempts - especially if this is not the first bad experience.

A tightrope walk

Anyone who suffers from sweaty hands is walking a tightrope that can hardly be endured. Treat your complaints confidently, and assume that other people are not sensitive to the limits of others. Whoever says "I have wet hands, it doesn't bother me", quickly hears "yes it doesn't bother you, but others" and may also be avoided because of his "ruthlessness".

However, anyone who is too sensitive to the uncomfortable situations and still holds himself responsible for it, consequently withdraws from normal everyday life.

The reactions of the environment and also the reaction of those affected are often unspoken. Damp hands are also a taboo subject that hardly anyone addresses to those affected. In a small circle, among the confidants in the company, towards the partner or siblings, outsiders talk about the "unpleasant touches" by the sweaty person, but they do not tell him himself.

Those affected notice that others avoid them in certain situations. Since the topic is never discussed openly, firstly, the outsiders do not know that XY has no “weakness in character”, but that his organism works differently. Secondly, those affected have no chance to consider together with others how they can deal with their complaint .


Anyone with constantly wet hands should see a doctor. If he realizes that the person affected does not produce so much sweat because he or she sweats through a certain activity, then this indicates hyperhidrosis.

You can roughly check yourself whether you suffer from hyperhidrosis. Your hands get wet in stressful situations or when you are resting on the sofa. Are your palms regularly so damp that it hinders your everyday life?

Do you have physical illnesses that can be related to wet hands: heart disease, after-effects of operations, circulatory problems, severe overweight?

Make a note of this, then help the doctor make a diagnosis and choose the right therapy.


Damp hands are very uncomfortable, but are easy to handle. If the sweat glands are overactive, but not to an extreme extent, home remedies help.

You can use washing gels that work against oily skin, or rub your hand with powder, such as those used by strength athletes, before lifting weights. Or you can drink sage tea, which generally works against excessive sweat flow.

You can also use ointments like Odaban, which help against excessive perspiration, and they can keep your hands cold, cold dries your skin.

Sport helps

Sport usually helps too. Especially people whose wet hands are overweight should exercise and move physically. The complex of effects between overweight, high blood pressure, heart weakness and excessive sweating can be brought back to a normal level. This even applies to patients whose sweat flow is also genetically anchored: They do not return to a "normal size" if they reduce their weight and let their body work, but they alleviate the symptoms considerably.

If you stick to sports and healthy eating consistently, then for many of you the wet hands are no longer a bigger problem than greasy hair or the intolerance of certain foods. Complaints that restrict everyday life, work and social life become such a small flaw that can be remedied with caution: Just as the "stinky foot" keeps its feet and shoes in check with foot spray, ointment, washing gel and powder dry it wet hand.

Practical measures

In mild cases, simple measures significantly reduce complaints:

1) Air your home regularly and expose your hands to fresh, cold air as often as possible.

2) Reduce your excess weight.

3) Eat less sweaty foods and spices. This includes black pepper as well as chilli or ginger.

Botox - the nerve paralysis

If you suffer from extremely wet hands, the botox nerve poison is an option. But be careful: This is a major intervention because Botox paralyzes the muscles and affects the mobility of the hand. If it is only about social etiquette, you should definitely not choose this method.

The treatment is also very expensive: you have to have Botox injected again every six months and spend 500 to 100 euros each time, because botox therapy only pays the health insurance if you have excessive armpit sweat.

Aluminum salt

Aluminum salt combines with keratin and closes the sweat glands in the pores. The higher the concentration of aluminum salt, the deeper it penetrates the skin. Anti-welding agents with aluminum salts can therefore be dosed well - depending on the extent of welding production.


In their despair, some sufferers resort to deodorant sprays, perfume or aftershave. But this is not a solution: if you spray deodorant on sweaty hands, rub it with perfume or aftershave, you only cover up the smell of sweat, but not the sweat flow - and the problem with wet hands is not the smell but the wetness. Places worked with deodorants sweat less, but the sweat is secreted all the more in other places.

Electricity therapy

With electricity therapy, you hold your hands in water and a weak electric current flows through the water. Why this therapy works is still unknown. However, research suggests that electrical stimulation increases the threshold that triggers the sweating impulse.


The awkward name is derived from the sympathetic nerve. This belongs to the vegetative nervous system and from it nerve branches go under the skin and control the production of sweat. During the operation, the doctor removes part of the nerve to the right and left of the spine. Without nerve branches leading to the hands there are no impulses and without impulses there is no sweat.

The disadvantage is compensatory sweating. The production of sweat as such does not decrease, and instead of the hands, those affected now sweat on the back or stomach.

Nevertheless, most patients find the result a relief - they suffer from the functional, social and psychological consequences of sweaty hands. A wet back, on the other hand, can be covered and does not restrict grip.

If your hands are extremely wet, the health insurance usually pays for the operation. Those affected and doctors must give good reasons for this. In the case of psychological problems, a recognized psychotherapist or psychiatrist must confirm that the complaints are causing massive psychological suffering; in the case of functional problems, doctors must provide specific evidence of this.


Excessive sweating due to excessively producing sweat glands is often not psychological, but the problems in everyday life can be reduced by mental training.

Mental training of "sweaty situations" has not yet been extensively researched. However, findings from neurosciences promise good success in applying such self-suggestions.

Our brains and nerves react to “real” information as well as to suggestive ones: the body doesn't know the difference. Even traumatization can be triggered by hearsay, and psychological pain docks on the same receptors as physical.

The potential to "dry" wet hands using self-suggestion is therefore great. Even those who produce excessive sweat react to the cold. So imagining literally that a cold wind dries your hands could make them really dry.

Breathing exercises, ie breathing deeply into the stomach in “sweaty situations” and actively exhaling, can also alleviate the symptoms. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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Video: What Is Hyperhidrosis? - And How Can You Treat Excessive Sweating? (January 2022).