Jenny Murase, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.
“I’m a 50-year-old man who sweats so much that my palms drip. It’s very embarrassing, especially when I shake hands. Is this normal?”
Sweat is a natural response to prevent the body from overheating during hot weather, vigorous exercise or in situations that trigger anxiety or anger. But sweat that’s excessive (your palms may be so sweaty that you have difficulty typing on your keyboard, for example) could be a sign of a condition called hyperhidrosis.
People with hyperhidrosis sweat excessively for no apparent reason—often from the palms, feet, underarms or head. It can run in families or result from another medical condition, such as a thyroid problem or diabetes—or even menopause.
Powder or a bit of antiperspirant containing aluminum chlorohydrate (which plugs sweat glands) may help. But if your palms still drip with sweat, consult a dermatologist, who can prescribe a more potent antiperspirant, such as Drysol, or glycopyrrolate (Robinul), an oral medication that reduces sweat and other secretions.
Botox can be injected to block nerves that stimulate sweating, but it is very painful when done on the palms. Other options include iontophoresis, a procedure that uses electricity to shut down sweat glands. The procedure is usually done several times a week until sweating lessens, then treatments are continued on a regular basis (typically once a week) to maintain results. Insurers may cover these treatments.
Severe cases of hyperhidrosis may require surgery to cut nerves in the chest that send signals to sweat glands. The surgery usually has good outcomes, but there are potential risks, such as infection and bleeding.