My Clammy Hands

A Personal Commentary

“Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack all dressed in black, black, black with sliver buttons, buttons, buttons…. ” I remember wanting to play this fun all girls’ hand game with Stacie Quezada, my best friend in the 6th grade.  We were about 10 years old.

“I don’t know how to play,” I told her.

“It’s really easy.  I will teach you,” Stacie insisted.

“No! That’s okay. I’ll just watch.” My insides churned with insecurity.

Why didn’t I play?

Because of my sweaty palms, hands so wet that they always felt as if I’d just washed them.  For years during puberty I avoided holding hands or shaking hands with anyone.  I wouldn’t play Rock, Paper, Scissors, or any game that involved my hands.

My palms sweat all day every day, even in the winter when it’s below zero. I dreaded what people would say or think if they touched my clammy hands.

The only person that I confided in was my big brother Mike, because his hands were as wet as mine.  But, him being a boy, he didn’t care until he got older.

In 10th grade, Anthony Thomas asked me to go skating with him on a Friday night. Anthony was a teen girl’s dream boy.  He was was the top track and field runner.  He had the cutest dimples when he smiled.  I really wanted to go on this date.  But that would mean holding hands at some point.

I came up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t go. “I have to dog-sit,” I told him.

To my horror, he said he was cool with dog-sitting.  He offered to come over and dog-sit with me.

“No. No. Don’t waste your Friday night. Go have fun,” I protested.

For most girls, high school and college are havens for dating. My sweaty palms deprived me of the joy of dating. Instead, I spent my teen years trying out every anti-sweaty hands product known to man.

I would spend hours searching the Internet for commercial products and home remedies. I tried anything that I saw other people had success with. Nothing worked for me. Baby powder made my hands look ashy.  Bleach dried my hands out. Besides, I couldn’t stand the smell.  Rubbing alcohol in my hands had the same effect as the bleach. It also gave me rash. I had to stop.

I didn’t dare tell my doctor about my sweaty palms because I thought I would look stupid, or that he would tell me that it’s just a mind thing. Or that I think about my hands sweating so therefore they sweat.

But I finally gave in right before my freshman year in college I made an appointment to see my primary physician, Dr. Fausto Lanao in Waterbury, Conn.

Lanao, told me I have palmar hyperhidrosis, a condition of overly active sweat glands. According to WebMD, it affects 2 percent to 3 percent of the population. I am one in that small population.

The doctor gave me three options.  Option one an antiperspirant specially designed for sweaty palms. The antiperspirant made up of aluminum chloride called Hyper-care, is rubbed over the palms every night and dries the hands out and in the morning is washed off.

Option two was an electric shock of the palms.  It’s done by placing hands and feet in shallow water while the electrical device sends electric shocks to the hands.

Option three surgery was surgery.  The surgery, symathectomy, is a same- day procedure done under local anesthesia. The surgeon makes two or three small cuts under the armpits. A small fiber optic camera is inserted which gives the surgeon a visual of the nerve that stimulates the sweat glands.

During the surgery air is inserted through the cut to push the lung away, so surgical instruments are able to maneuver to cut the nerve. The nerve chains located at the head of the rib cage are clamped using four titanium clips on each side of the nerve chain. After the clips are in place the surgical instruments are removed and the cuts are stitched.  The whole procedure takes about two hours, and the risk is minimal. This is the procedure that my brother Mike is going to do. I might consider it after I see what happens to him.

But I also learned that the latest in anti-sweaty palms arsenal is Botox. Who would have thought Botox that cure winkles and makes people look younger, would cure sweaty palms too?   I wouldn’t choose Botox, because I just don’t like the thought of injecting poison into my body.

I weighed all the options and settled on the antiperspirant.  The other treatments sounded too painful and I wasn’t ready for pain. I got my prescription and tried out my new product. I’ve been using the product even since my freshman year in college.

When using the antiperspirant there is a routine I follow to get results. Each night I rub the antiperspirant all over my hands and cover them with plastic gloves then I put socks over the gloves for safety and so that the product does not get on any other part of my skin.  In the morning I take off the socks and the gloves and wash my hands with warm water and soap. My hands are dry because of the drying formula in the antiperspirant.

Using my hyper-care every night has given me the results that I’ve always wanted. My hands don’t drip like they used to. My hands still get a little clammy every now and then, but using baby powder comes in handy for the clamminess.

Having Hyper-care and having dry hands has given me the self-confidence that I never had. I no longer fear what people would say or think of me. I shake hands at job interviews without a care in the world.

With my sweaty palms under control I now have the cutest boyfriend, who is an all- around athlete with a dimple in his left cheek and a smile that lights up the room.  We hold hands whenever we’re together.