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Clammy Hands and Feet

Clammy Hands and Feet

The following article will take you through the reasons that lead to the development of clammy hands and feet and how to go about treating them.
Rujuta Borkar
Did You Know?
Hyperhidrosis is the condition that is characterized by abnormal sweating and perspiration without a trigger to bring it about.
There is hardly ever an individual who has not experienced clammy hands and feet (palmoplantar). If you recall the conditions that lead to these, the most common reason that you might think of is that of being nervous, or the onset of a fever. You will have also noticed that as soon as the nervous feeling subsides, or the body temperature comes down to normal, the hands and feet go back to their normal status as well. However, there are certain conditions that could lead to constant and abnormal clammy hands and feet in an individual. These cannot be pointed out to a particular incident (one that could cause nervousness) or a particular body condition (like a fever), and therefore, the person seems to experience this condition seemingly without any particular trigger or reason. It is, however, not for no reason that the condition comes about. There could be several underlying reasons that could lead to its emergence and it could be an indication of an underlying health condition(s).
In the following sections, we will understand the probable reasons for the same and the ways in which this condition can be treated.
Causes
Generally, areas like the hands, feet, armpits, and the groin area are prone to excessive sweating due to the concentration of sweat glands in the region. When there is constant and abnormal sweating that comes about due to no trigger the condition is referred to as hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis can be of two types:

Focal or Primary
When the excessive sweating is localized to areas like the armpits, soles, face, scalp, and hands it is referred to as primary or focal hyperhidrosis. This form of hyperhidrosis is an inherited genetic trait and is seen to start during or before adolescence. This then influences the person's tendency to sweat excessively.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis
This form of hyperhidrosis can start at any point in a person's life and is brought about due to a particular disorder or condition―most commonly in the pituitary or thyroid glands. Other than that, it could be brought on due to other conditions as well. Let us review these in the following section.
Hyperactive Sympathetic Nervous System
The human body produces sweat so that the body temperature is maintained and all the functions run smoothly. Whenever there is a stressful situation, the body gets stimulated and reacts by producing sweat so that the raised temperatures can be brought down and none of the bodily functions are affected. These situations could include, anger, stress, nervousness or danger as well as external heat, and less ventilation. All these situations that lead to hot or cold clammy feet and hands are normal, but when there is a hyperactive nervous system, it can cause a malfunction and lead to sweaty feet and hands at all times, without any external or psychological reasons.
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Sweaty palms and feet can also be caused by certain peripheral arterial diseases which are caused due to a malfunctioning peripheral circulatory system. These occur when the blood vessels and lymph vessels outside the heart become diseased. The blood vessels which are responsible for transporting blood to the feet and hands get narrower and narrower and therefore cause clammy hands and/or feet.
Other Causes
There are other causes that can lead to excessive sweating. These include:
  • Anxiety
  • Cold climate
  • Anemia
  • Sepsis
  • Menstruation cramps
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Stress
  • Shock
  • Chronic pain
  • Heat stroke
  • Hypothermia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Strokes
  • Heart attack
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Menopause
  • Glucose control disorders
  • Exhaustion caused due to heat
Sometimes there are instances of clammy hands and feet in infants and babies, these could be one of the first indications of a rising temperature and fever in them. Other than that, if the instance of clammy, moist skin persists for long, it could mean that there might be certain complications in the heart or circulatory system.
Treatment
Home Remedies
  • Wash hands with soap and water to get rid of the grime.
  • Rub talcum powder or cornstarch on the hands and feet. This soaks in all the moisture and works as a sweaty palms cure, as well as a sweaty feet cure.
  • Wear shoes that provide proper ventilation. This is really important to combat clammy feet.
  • Use an antiperspirant spray on the hands and feet. This will keep the moisture at bay.
  • Make use of epsom salts, sage, and tea. These are known to be great ways of preventing sweaty palms and feet.
Iontophoresis
In this method, the hands and feet are submerged in water and a gentle electric shock is administered. The electricity is gradually increased so that the patient feels a tingling sensation. This helps to turn off the sweat glands temporarily. A single session lasts for about 10-20 minutes and several sessions may be required to bring about the desired results.
Medication
Certain drugs like the glycopyrrolate drug may be administered. These prevent the stimulation of the sweat glands and therefore curb the problem at the root. Though these have been known to help certain people, extensive studies have not been conducted on these. Moreover, certain side effects have also been listed―these should, therefore, only be used in consultation with a physician.
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS)
When the condition is severe, a surgical procedure (sympathectomy) that is minimally-invasive may be used. This is only used in cases when all other forms of treatment have been proved ineffective. This procedure turns off the signals that tell the body to sweat excessively.
Botox
Botox is used primarily for the treatment of underarm sweating and is known to bring about great results. However, using it for the treatment of feet and hands may lead to intense pain and weakness. Which is why, this method is used only if the doctor recommends it.
When it comes to clammy skin of hands and feet, there could be a plethora of reasons playing spoilsport. The deal is that you need to be more aware of what your body is going through. If the elimination of all probable and controllable causes is taken care of and yet this condition persists, then visiting a doctor and getting a checkup done is imperative to rule out any severe underlying diseases.
Disclaimer - This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.