Sweating in soles and palms: A cause for humiliation (Part – I)

I do remember so well an incident that happened a couple of years ago when I attended the marriage party of one of my close schoolmates. A young 21-year-old fair, fairly fatty niece of my friend who was actively serving the items whatever we wanted at the party suddenly fell on the mosaic floor, with no apparent cause, even though just walking briskly throw to the ground a glass full of buttermilk which she failed to prevent despite her best efforts to do so. I rushed to her to enquire what happened. “Fortunately no major injuries doctor, – but it often happens to me due to severe sweating in my soles as well as in palms irrespective of the season, whether it is winter, rainy, or summer she told”. I do get many young men at my clinic for consultation with a complaint of full sweat of palms while writing examinations, the answer paper gets wet and the pen slips…, it is the same problem raised by many ladies and gents even during my recent questions and answers session on health issues over All India Radio.

Why this problem: Healthy persons may differ widely in the amount that they sweat. A certain amount of sweating is normal for everyone. But excessive sweating will pose several problems, and the causes must be scrupulously investigated. Many people are troubled with wet hands and sweaty feet both in cold and hot climates. Severe sweating in the palms soles and armpit is a constant nuisance. 

However, the etiology of this problem is yet to be established. Physiologically unexpected sweating may be caused by exercise, emotional states, extremes of heat, and heredity. Pathologically in fevers, severe pains, nervous strain, thyrotoxicosis, which is a morbid condition due to over-activity of the thyroid gland and menopause (stopping of menstrual periods in women), etc., where unusual sweating is complained of. Every diabetic should remember that over-dose of insulin or anti-diabetic drugs cause severe sweating when they land in hypoglycemia a serious threat if not attended immediately.

Excessive sweating of palms, soles or armpits - Dr. Zatrok's blog

Although sweat itself is free of odors, excessive moisture on the skin, particularly on the feet, around the genital area, and in the armpits leads to infection, with some of the bacteria and fungus that are present on the skin. Strong objectionable odors may arise when the groin and armpits are involved. Wearing enclosed shoes without allowing the feet to ventilate will further worsen the condition with an offensive odor. It is a common ghastly experience that when some guys leave their shoes outside and enter the AC chamber with socks pollute the environment with a nauseating horrible stink.  

Sweating also occurs, especially on the palms, when people are nervous. Primary hyperhidrosis is caused by faulty nerve signals that trigger eccrine sweat glands to become overactive. It usually affects the palms, soles, underarms and sometimes the face. There is no specific medical cause typically for this type of hyperhidrosis. Some other people have hands and feet that sweat a lot. This problem is common and can be very embarrassing. Sweaty hands and feet usually are not caused by a disease. This problem tends to begin in childhood in some cases.

The excessive sweating problem usually improves with age. Chafing of the skin where two skin surfaces rub together such as under the breasts, or between the thighs one or both surfaces may become red and irritated is another problem of excessive perspiring. It is always worse in those who are obese and diabetic, especially, in the armpit around the anus, between the fingers and toes, and in the groin. Susceptibility for infection is more due to skin chafing.