Expert Advice

I sweat so much on my palms that I'm embarrassed to shake hands with people. Is there anything I can do?

About 8 million people in the U.S. suffer from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, on the palms, under the arms, and on the soles of the feet.
I sweat so much on my palms that I'm embarrassed to shake hands with people. Is there anything I can do?
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About 8 million people in the U.S. suffer from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, on the palms, under the arms, and on the soles of the feet. The cause is unknown in most cases, though hyperhidrosis seems to run in families.

Excessive sweating has traditionally been treated with prescription creams or salves, such as Drysol, that are made with aluminum chloride. Applying this kind of product to your palms each night helps to reduce sweating, but it can also lead to skin irritation. Natural treatments include acupuncture, hypnosis, and herbal teas made from sage, chamomile, or valerian root. Although there's little research to prove they lessen the sweating, they have been shown to soothe anxiety, which is something that can trigger sweaty hands.

One of the latest treatments uses Botox (botulinum toxin) injections to block the nerves that trigger your sweat glands. Studies have reported a 31 percent reduction in sweating 13 weeks after injection. However, it may take up to 50 injections; the treatment can be costly and painful; and the results are usually temporary.

If your condition is serious, consider surgery to remove a small part of the nervous-tissue fibers that relay the command to sweat from the brain to your palms. This once required large incisions and a lengthy recovery time. Today, using an endoscope, a doctor can do the procedure through two pinhole incisions in 45 minutes.

-Brian Perri, D.O., associate director of the Institute for Spinal Disorders and a medical expert in the Hyperhidrosis Program at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles

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