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Body Areas Affected by Hyperhidrosis
Complications of Hyperhidrosis
Sweat Biology
Clammy Hands and Feet
Written by Katie Crissman
October 01 2020

The Cause of Clammy Hands and Feet

Many people live with hands and feet that are perpetually cold. Cold hands and feet are often caused by a condition called Raynaud’s. According to an article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch, it causes the body to have an exaggerated response to cold temperatures. For people with Raynaud’s, when the body is exposed to even slightly colder conditions, the blood vessels in the skin begin to contract and shunt blood flow to vital organs, leaving the skin with a pale color and feeling cold. It sounds extreme, but this is a very common ailment, and it is not usually indicative of a larger health problem.[1] For some however, Raynaud’s is the not the cause of their symptoms. A subset of people who experience cold hands and feet also suffer from wet hands and feet. This describes what many refer to as clammy hands and feet. Clammy is defined as “being damp, soft, sticky, and usually cool” and “lacking normal human warmth” in the Merriam Webster dictionary.[3] For those that suffer from clammy extremities there is another physiological explanation: hyperhidrosis. It is also possible that some people are living with both Raynaud's and hyperhidrosis, as, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, about 5% of the population is thought to have Raynaud's while other sources reveal that about 2.8% of the population has hyperhidrosis.[2][4]

Hyperhidrosis, as defined in a textbook, is a condition in which people sweat in excess of what is needed for thermoregulation. Thermoregulation is the body’s way of regulating its own internal temperature, even when exposed to cold or hot external environments.[5] So, people with hyperhidrosis will sweat in any environment, whether it is beneficial or not. When people with hyperhidrosis sweat in a cold environment, it creates a perfect situation for clammy hands and feet to develop. Many people who deal with symptoms like have clammy hands and feet are actually suffering from a type of hyperhidrosis called primary focal hyperhidrosis.[6] This type of hyperhidrosis usually begins during adolescents and it can cause people to sweat profusely from specific body parts, including the hands and feet.[5] This is why a person may have clammy hands or feet but the rest of their body is not effected the same way. There are certain clues a person can check for if they want to tell if they have hyperhidrosis, like excessive sweating in certain areas and sweating that is not in response to any known environmental or physiological triggers.

How Cold Temperature Affects Someone with Hyperhidrosis

For people who don’t suffer from hyperhidrosis, sweating is a normal physiological process that occurs in order to maintain homeostasis. There is a good reason why humans sweat: healthy sweating occurs in response to hot temperatures, as a mechanism to keep the body cool. Sweat can cool the body through a process called transpiration, in which heated sweat is released from the body onto the surface of the skin, which then evaporates into the air. This is important to understand in relation to hyperhidrosis. When a person has hyperhidrosis, they sweat constantly, for an unknown reason. This means that they are often sweating in cold temperatures, when sweating is actually a disadvantage, and so they will often experience clammy hands and feet as a result. They have a constant source of sweat cooling their hands or feet down, which can create some very uncomfortable situations. Another reason that people with hyperhidrosis often sweat from the hands and feet is because there are a high concentration of eccrine (sweat) glands on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. People with hyperhidrosis may also experience excessive sweating of other body parts with a high concentration of eccrine glands like the armpit, forehead and back. The good news is that primary focal hyperhidrosis is not a dangerous condition, although at times it can be distressing.[5]

How to Treat and Manage Clammy Hands and Feet Related to Hyperhidrosis

There are a few ways that a person with hyperhidrosis can prevent and treat clammy hands and feet. The first way is to treat the underlying cause, which is hyperhidrosis. These treatments stop hand and foot sweat and its odor which in turn prevents clammy hands and feet from occuring. There are various treatments available, which were outlined in articles written for the journal Dermatologic Clinics, including:

  • Over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis
  • Iontophoresis for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis
  • Oral medications for hyperhidrosis
  • Botox treatments for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis
  • Surgical treatments for primary focal hyperhidrosis
  • Typically, antiperspirants are a good first choice for someone who is just starting treatment for hyperhidrosis. They are noninvasive, inexpensive and easily accessible for patients. In order to begin the other forms of treatment that are listed above, a person would need to manage their hyperhidrosis with a doctor. Each treatment has benefits and drawbacks, and a dermatologist can help an individual with hyperhidrosis figure out which treatment options work for them.[4]

    There are other ways to control sweaty feet and hands that don’t involve medical treatments. Some practical habits can reduce the amount of sweating experienced by those with hyperhidrosis. One of these is to wear shoes that do not promote sweating and picking absorbent socks that will keep moisture away from the feet. It can be a little trickier to deal with sweaty hands, but some find that using antiperspirant wipes and keeping a handkerchief, or other absorbent cloth, in their pocket is useful. There is a clear correlation between stress triggers and the sweating that is experienced by those with primary focal hyperhidrosis.[5] Some people may find that practicing anxiety reduction methods that can reduce sweating can be beneficial in limiting the amount of sweat they produce.[7]

    Other Reasons for Clammy Hands and Feet

    While hyperhidrosis and Raynaud's are common reasons that people may have clammy hands and feet, they are not the only possible causes. Sometimes clammy skin is an indicator of another potential health condition or issue. Hot flashes are one potential cause of clammy skin. These are typically experienced when a women is in menopause due to fluctuations of the amount of estrogen that is in the body. Hot flashes are a normal part of the aging process for menopausal women and are not a cause for concern, although they can be disruptive and frequent. Another common cause of clammy skin is fever. However, this is not a reason that someone would have skin that is perpetually clammy. Fever is usually an indicator that the body is fighting off an illness or infection and should not last for an extended period of time.[8]

    Some more serious health problems can lead to clammy hands and feet, so it is important to speak with a doctor if you are concerned. An overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism, can cause skin to be clammy for an extended period of time. This is because it speeds up the body’s metabolism which can lead to skin being excessively warm. Luckily, there are medications to treat the condition which can help get rid of clammy skin. In very rare cases, a heart attack can lead to someone having clammy skin temporarily. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in the back or arm, nausea, and lightheadedness along with suddenly clammy skin then you need to seek medical attention. However, it is important to remember that in the vast majority of cases clammy hands and feet are not indicative of a dangerous condition.[8]

    Not all cases of clammy hands and feet are caused by hyperhidrosis, but for those cases that are, there is hope! Most people can significantly reduce their symptoms and live a more comfortable life with proper treatment.

    Sources
    1. Cold fingers, cold toes? Could be Raynaud's. (2009). Harvard Women's Health Watch. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/cold-fingers-cold-toes-could-be-raynauds
    2. Raynaud's. (n.d.). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/raynauds
    3. Definition of Clammy. (2018). Retrieved September 18, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clammy
    4. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    5. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science.
    6. Nordqvist, C. (2017, December). What is hyperhidrosis? Medical News Today. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182130.php
    7. Shenefelt, P. D. (2017). Use of Hypnosis, Meditation, and Biofeedback in Dermatology. Clinics in Dermatology. doi:10.1016/J.clindermatol.2017.01.007
    8. Barrell, A. (2018, July 12). What causes clammy skin? Retrieved April 25, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322446.php
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    Body Areas Affected by Hyperhidrosis

    9 Outrageous Things People Try to Avoid Excessive Armpit Sweating

    By Daniel McCarthy /

    9 Outrageous Things People Try to Avoid Excessive Armpit Sweating


    On my first day of work a few years ago, I got dressed to impress and walked the 20 minutes to my new office to meet my new colleagues for the first time. Having just moved to the southern US, I’d been getting used to the unbearable humidity and its effects on my excessive armpit sweating. Luckily (I thought), the sun wasn’t out and the temps dropped below 80, so maybe my sweat glands wouldn’t take center stage! Well...I arrived to meet my colleagues looking like a wet bass in business clothes. Thank goodness I arrived 15 minutes early, which brings me to the first outrageous thing people try to avoid armpit sweating. 

    1. The Hand Dryer 

    I anxiously scurried to the nearest bathroom, declothed, and put the hand dryer to good use on my shirt stains and sweat stains. More outrageously, I awkwardly hovered my sweaty extremities (including my sweaty underarms) over the hand dryer. Thankfully, I reapplied my antiperspirant and headed out to meet my colleagues a decently dry man. That was the day I knew I really needed clinical strength antiperspirant for my excessive armpit sweating (and a car). 


    1. Pantyliners


    Many with excessive underarm sweating already know that underarm pads are one way to help with sweating armpits. But if you find yourself sans pad and worried about your excessive armpit sweating, you would not be the first person to try pantyliners. That’s right, pantyliners have been used in a pinch to help keep sweat stains at bay. 

    1. Give a shirt

    In 2019, a reddit user posted that to combat his excessive armpit sweating, he skipped the typical clothing and made his own shirt. He posted asking others to try out his creation and received over 250 replies! By creating and giving others shirts, this innovative reddit user designed his way into the hearts of many with smelly armpits. 

    1. Get inked

    If you’ve been debating whether to get a tasteful tattoo and you have hyperhidrosis, this finding may just help you make your decision. A 2017 study found that getting inked helped reduce sweat [1]! Now, I don’t recommend choosing a tattoo as a means of treatment for excessive armpit sweating (and maybe don’t tattoo your armpit), but the connection is a fun little fact nonetheless. 

    1. Become a naked mole rat

    If you can’t pull the trigger on an armpit tattoo, another method some people have tried is hair removal. Yes, like Steve Carrell (who actually has hyperhidrosis himself) in the hit movie 40-year Old Virgin, removing hair can help reduce sweat buildup for you too. Many likely already “naturally” lose hair thanks to some sweat prevention products, but more natural hair removal may just be the trick to solving excessive sweating

    1. Armpit art

    Even though we know most sweaty armpit causes, like too much caffeine or spicy foods, it’s no fun to cut these out completely. A more outrageous approach to excessive underarm sweating is actually turning sweating armpits into art. Multiple users of the Reddit community r/Hyperhidrosis have created shirts, sweatshirts, and other clothing that includes beautiful tie-dye in the armpits. Creative, fun, and beautiful, and even better when combined with sweat prevention like antiperspirant or carpe underarm

    1. Vinegar your armpit

    You may already know how to get rid of pit stains with vinegar, but there are other interesting ways it can help with excessive armpit sweating. Splashing vinegar on your sweaty underarms  is one method many recommend. Those that swear by this method also recommend using deodorant or antiperspirant, too. 

    While we don’t know how this was discovered, I like to think someone accidentally splashed vinegar on their pits hundreds of years ago and voila! Too bad the first person to splash his pits with vinegar didn’t also have access to the best antiperspirant for his excessive armpit sweating. 

    1. Baking soda your sweaty underarms

    If you find deodorant or antiperspirant irritating, one creative way to help alleviate your excessive underarm sweating is baking soda. Many crafty people with hyperhidrosis swear that not only can baking soda help reduce sweat, but it can also help alleviate pesky underarm smell with some of the best sweat prevention. 

    1. Restart the plaid fad

    Black t-shirt, black sweatshirt, black button down, black tank top. If this sounds like your closet, you’re clearly an expert on the hyperhidrosis wardrobe. But if you want some variety as you fight excessive armpit sweating, add some plaid, a trick many with hyperhidrosis use that you may not know. Hey, you just may be starting the resurgence of the plaid fad, and at worst, you’ll add some fun, lumberjack variety to your dark closet. 


    Sources: 

    [1] Luetkemeier, M. J., Hanisko, J. M., & Aho, K. M. (2017). Skin Tattoos Alter Sweat Rate and Na+ Concentration. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 49(7), 1432–1436. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001244
    Body Areas Affected by Hyperhidrosis

    How to Cure Sweaty Hands Permanently at Home

    By Daniel McCarthy /

    How to Cure Sweaty Hands Permanently at Home 

    Scenario 1: You’re invited into the office, confident you will land the job. You’ve prepared, you’re highly qualified, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. You walk in and confidently reach out to shake the CEOs hand. But then, your confidence turns to dread as the CEO pulls her hand back, wet with your sweat. 

    Scenario 2: You’re at home, playing video games with your friends and absolutely dominating. They get so upset, they tell you to take a break to let another friend play. But there’s another problem... nobody wants to use your controller after you finish. Despite your domination, your palmar hyperhidrosis (excessively sweaty hands) has taken center stage. 

    Do these scenarios sound familiar? Wondering how to cure sweaty hands permanently? Although you may not have had these exact things happen to you, your sweaty hands likely have caused something similar and you’re looking for a home remedy. To stop sweating these situations, let’s talk about how to cure sweaty hands permanently at home. 

    One of the best ways to cure sweaty hands at home is actually not related to the hands at all. Instead, working on reducing anxiety can have immensely positive results on how to cure sweaty hands permanently naturally. There are many root causes of anxiety, and some or many may be related to your hyperhidrosis. Likewise, it is easier said than done to reduce anxiety. But there are also many ways to work on reducing anxiety that are worth a try. One interesting way to reduce anxiety, and in turn, sweaty hands, is to be grateful. Specifically, Petrocchi and Couyoumdjian found that “grateful people experience less anxiety mostly because they are able to encourage and be compassionate and reassuring toward themselves when things go wrong in life” [1]. Other ways include stepping outside for a walk, drinking tea, or even distracting yourself. In general, starting with anxiety reduction not only can help with how to cure sweaty hands, but also your wellbeing in general. 

    Another great way to cure sweaty hands at home permanently is to reduce consumption of coffee and alcohol. Now you may be reading this and thinking “Hey, those are all my favorite things! I’m done with this article!”. And while I wholeheartedly agree and enjoy coffee and alcohol myself, consumption in moderation is key, especially with hyperhidrosis. Caffeine, for example, activates part of the brain that is already a main part in causing hyperhidrosis symptoms. Instead of giving it up, try to reduce consumption to under 200 mg or add in decaf to your routine. Alcohol can affect hyperhidrosis in a similar manner, but like coffee, 1-2 glasses of alcohol may be okay. When figuring out how to cure sweaty hands permanently naturally, it is important to find a balance of coffee, alcohol, and managing your hyperhidrosis. And remember to always drink responsibly, in moderation. 

    Tackling how to cure sweaty hands permanently, naturally, and at home may require more than behavioral changes we’ve talked about so far. Luckily, there are other great remedies you can try at home! First, finding the right antiperspirant is of paramount importance, especially appropriate antiperspirant for hands. Another possible over the counter option is anti-sweat wipes. If neither of these work for you, another option to cure your sweaty hands permanently is to buy your very own iontophoresis machine for at-home use. This machine delivers mild electrical currents to your hands (or other affected body part) while submerged in water. A combination of these treatments may have your hands feeling less clammy in no time! 

    Ultimately, your palmar hyperhidrosis may not be treatable at home and permanently, but these recommendations may help alleviate some of your symptoms. If symptoms persist, consult a medical professional for further assistance with how to cure sweaty hands. 



    Sources

    Sources

    1. Nicola Petrocchi & Alessandro Couyoumdjian (2016) The impact of gratitude on depression and anxiety: the mediating role of criticizing, attacking, and reassuring the self, Self and Identity, 15:2, 191-205, DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2015.1095794

    Antiperspirant

    8 Random & Interesting Facts about Excessive Armpit Sweating

    By Daniel McCarthy /

    8 Random & Interesting Facts about Excessive Armpit Sweating

    Our worries about shirt stains, sweaty underarms, and smelly armpits may dominate how we think about excessive armpit sweating. Hey, we may even avoid thinking about these all together. But guess what? There are some random and interesting facts that just may change how you think about excessive underarm sweating! Let’s take a look: 

    Fact number 1: Sweat by itself ISN’T smelly

    Sweat is often associated with smelliness. But by itself, it doesn’t smell AT ALL. The reason sweat can smell (in places like your armpit) isn’t really about sweat. It’s about the sweat glands (and hair)! Apocrine glands are the biggest of sweat-producing glands and are usually located near hair. It’s this combo that leads to smelly armpits.

    Fact number 2: Excessive armpit sweating is as old as cavemen

    Hang with me here. Excessive underarm sweating is connected to the fight-or-flight response ingrained in even the most ancient of human predecessors. This excessive armpit sweating response has helped humans survive for millenia. And yep, it means our cavemen ancestors likely had sweating armpits, too. Even though they didn’t have to worry about shirt stains like us, we have the benefit of products like carpe underarm and antiperspirant in general to help with our excessive armpit sweating.  

    Fact number 3: Famous people worry about excessive armpit sweating too

    Michael Gary Scott, fearless and deliciously cringeworthy leader of Dunder Mifflin Scranton on the show The Office, is perfectly played by actor Steve Carell. Carell seemed to play the role with such ease, comfort, and confidence that nobody would ever know he was worried about excessive underarm sweating due to his hyperhidrosis. Co-star Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute on the show) even pointed out that the set temperature was a cool 64 degrees to keep Carell’s sweaty underarms from becoming the focus of the scene. 

    Even though Carell’s excessive armpit sweating wasn’t part of the show, I like to think Michael’s approach to sweat stains could be summed up by his famous line:  “I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do.” 

    Fact number 4: Other celebrities combat hyperhidrosis too

    Steve Carell is not the only notable person looking for the best sweat prevention. As a longtime vampire and real-life human with hyperhidrosis, Robert Pattinson is another actor who combats hyperhidrosis (and werewolves) on the regular. 

    Like Pattinson and Carell, Halle Berry also has hyperhidrosis. Famously, Berry confidently showed her sweat stains on the Ellen Show back in 2010. So when you’re feeling a little self-conscious about your own excessive underarm sweating, remember you too can confidently move through your day like Berry barring her pits for the world. 

    Fact number 5: Ventilation over here please!

    If you’re still worried about how to get rid of pit stains, some ventilation could provide a brief respite. Because we sometimes get pesky pit stains, it can feel like our excessive underarm sweating is due to our pits proclivity to produce the most amount of sweat. Yet, this annoying issue is more commonly attributed to a lack of ventilation, although sweaty armpit causes cannot be narrowed to one thing. Still, a little ventilation and clinical strength antiperspirant can go a long way in dealing with pesky pit stains and excessive armpit sweating. 

    Fact number 6: An underappreciated aspect of a non-meat diet

    Sometimes even the best antiperspirant and deodorant may not feel like enough to help with excessive armpit sweating and underarm smell. That’s okay though because there are other interesting ways to approach this issue. A 2006 study showed that women found mens’ armpit odor “more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense” when these men ate a non-meat diet [1]. If you haven’t already thought about eating less meat, the improved aroma of your pits (and the kitchen) may be another reason to eat a non-meat diet. 

    Fact number 7: Fashion matters

    Choosing clothes is a fashion statement for many. And while fashion may matter more to some than others, there’s one interesting reason we can all get behind to choose our clothes. Our clothing choices can help deal with excessive underarm sweating. That’s right, there are clothes, materials, styles, and pads that all can help with excessive armpit sweating as well as excessive sweating and shirt stains in general. 

    Fact number 8: You aren’t alone

    An estimated 2-3% of the US population suffers from axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating). Even though this percentage may seem small, 3% of the US population is right around 10 million people. That’s like all of NYC combating excessive armpit sweating at the same time. It can be easy to feel isolated in dealing with hyperhidrosis, but there’s some comfort in knowing many others are dealing with the same worries. 

    Sources

     

    1. Havlicek, J., & Lenochova, P. (2006). The Effect of Meat Consumption on Body Odor Attractiveness. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/chemse/article/31/8/747/364338
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