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Last updated December 7, 2017, originally published July 22, 2013

By A. Lee, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Who hasn’t experienced sweaty palms?  You’re getting
ready for that key job interview or a date with the woman
you’ve been chasing for months and…the floods start.
Clammy, sweaty, nervous hands are the ultimate turn-off.
They’re a biological advertisement of lack of confidence.  
We’ve looked at the scientific evidence to see if there are
any tried-and-true natural remedies for sweaty hands.  
Surprisingly, we found some that actually may work for
most of us.

What Causes Excessive Sweaty Hands

Excessive sweating is technically called “hyperhidrosis”.
About 3% of us humans suffer from this condition. There
are two types of sweating –sweating to help you cool
down, called “thermo regulatory sweating” and sweating
brought on by stressful events, called “emotional

Thermo regulatory sweating is natural, healthy and
necessary to prevent overheating.  It’s the sweat you
experience when you exercise or when the room is too
hot.  Thermo regulatory sweating is controlled by your
hypothalamus, a small almond-sized cluster of cells in the
middle of your brain. You cannot control thermo
regulatory sweating.  

Studies have found that the trigger for thermo regulatory
sweating is the temperature of your brain. If your brain
gets too hot, your entire body starts to sweat in an effort
to cool it down, according to a 2010 study from Nara
Women's University Graduate School of Humanities and
Science in Japan and the University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center.

Emotional sweating, on the other hand, is managed by
your entire limbic system. That’s the system of structures
that some scientists believe is one of the oldest parts of
the brain from an evolutionary perspective. This part of
the brain helps you feel fear, happiness, love, sexual
pleasure and any other emotion you have. Emotional
sweating can be controlled using several techniques.

Visualization Can Help Reduce Sweaty Palms

Visualization is the technique of mentally rehearsing a
physical event before it happens to improve your

Mentally rehearsing has proven to be effective in
improving basketball players’ free throw percentages, for
example. Visualizing the path of a golf ball helps to
improve your golf game, significantly reducing your
handicap. In fact, Jack Nicklaus once said that he never hit
a golf ball without first visualizing the path of the ball.  
Tiger Woods uses the same technique.

You can use visualization to help control excessive
sweating. The key is to try to put yourself into the same
frame of mind you expect to experience when you get
anxious. For five minutes, “see” yourself in your mind’s
eye going to the job interview, getting nervous…then
calming down. See the face of the woman you want to
date, and then see yourself calming with maximum self-
assurance asking her out. See yourself being confident,
walking upright, talking calmly.

Breathing Exercises Help.  When we breathe in our
heart rate increases. When we breathe out, our heart rate
decreases.  Athletes use the physiological knowledge to
improve performance. Watch tapes of Roger Federer
closely and you’ll notice something subtle. He breathes
out, exhales smoothly, at the exact moment he strikes the
ball. Breathing out keeps your head still and your emotions
in check.

Shift Your Body’s Attention. Your hands and underarms
have more sweat glands per square centimeter than other
parts of your body. This is why your ear lobes don’t sweat
when you get nervous.  You can shift your body’s focus
when you get nervous from the area with more sweat
glands to the areas with the least sweat glands. A simple
technique such as pinching your ear lobe whenever you
get nervous can help.

Pre-treat Your Hands with Powder or Anti-perspirant.  
Notice how Olympic gymnasts apply white powder to their
hands before they start their routines. LeBron James,
Kobe Bryant and other basketball players occasionally do
the same thing. They pre-treat their hands with powder in
anticipation of sweaty palms. You can do the same. Apply a
bit of baby powder to your hands and wipe it off before
you get to the job interview, date, etc.  

Applying antiperspirant to your hands also works. Yes, the
same anti-perspirant that works on your underarms can
also stop sweating on your hands. The active ingredient in
these anti-perspirants is aluminum chloride. Possible side
effects include skin irritation is some people after repeated

Cool Your Head. If your sweating is thermo-regulatory
sweating, the best way to stop your hands from sweating
is to cool down your head, for it is the overheated brain
which is triggering this type of sweating.

Remove any hat you are wearing, loosen any collar around
your neck or wipe a cool paper towel on the back of your
neck. Above all, stay hydrated. Drinking water helps your
body to regulate your temperature.

If All Else Fails, Botox Can Help. Botox is the final,
somewhat drastic, solution to hyperhidrosis. Botulin toxin
is effective in stopping hyperhidrosis, several studies have
found. For example, in a 2009 study led by Dr. Tanja
Schlereth of the Klinik für Neurologie, Johannes Gutenberg-
Universität Mainz in Germany confirmed that Botox does
stop excessive seating, usually for 4 to 7 months.

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Lebron James pre-treats his hands with powder to
cut down on sweating.
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