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Sweaty Hands: What's the Science Behind Them?

shaking hands

by Charles Poladian

Sweaty hands and palms can be an unpleasant side effect of stress or your paws may simply be too hot from holding your date's hand, but don't let them knock your self-confidence. Excessive sweating can be triggered by everyday emotions. Here's some of the science behind this annoying occurrence.

A Common Condition

Your body uses sweat to cool down. That's totally normal and is an essential body function. Sometimes your body goes into overdrive and sweats excessively. This condition is known as hyperhidrosis, or palmar hyperhidrosis when it specifically relates to your hands, says the National Health Service (NHS).

There are two types of sweat glands found throughout your body: apocrine and eccrine. The National Institutes of Health estimates that your body has somewhere between 2 to 4 million sweat glands. Eccrine glands are found throughout the body while apocrine glands are found mostly in the armpits and genital area. Eccrine glands are very concentrated in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. That's why sweaty palms may be common even if you don't have overactive underarm sweat glands.

Hands can become damp due to a number of factors. It's completely normal for a minor amount of sweat during a hot day or if you have your hands in your pocket or in gloves during the winter.

What Causes Sweaty Hands?

There are a lot of factors to consider when trying to determine the potential cause of sweaty hands.

There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding something that may be commonly reported by people, but excessive sweating is not considered a threat to your health. But, there are some ways excess sweat can directly affect your life.

Don't Sweat It

While there may not be a direct a negative impact to your physical health, sweaty palms can disrupt your life. You may decide to not reach for your date's hand or you may forego a handshake at the end of an interview. Embarrassment over the potential reactions you may receive can really be a blow to your confidence.

But you shouldn't miss out on your favorite things because of sweaty hands. Try avoiding spicy foods or caffeine, which are known triggers, to help reduce sweating. Sweat can also be kicked into high gear by strong emotional reactions, like stress and anxiety. Even excitement can cause you to sweat, according to the International Journal of Sport Psychology. Considering that a range of emotional reactions could lead to sweat, it's easy to see why damp palms aren't a bad thing, but a normal occurrence.

If sweaty hands are still a concern, feel free to speak to a doctor. He or she can help you better understand what's going on and ways to get relief. There are antiperspirants, although they differ from the deodorants and antiperspirants you're used to putting on your armpits, and nightly treatments to get hyperhidrosis under control. No matter what route you take, don't let sweaty hands stop you from enjoying life.

This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Speed Stick® products. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.