Sweaty palms are something that most guitar players will suffer from. Some people have naturally sweaty palms whilst a lucky few may only experience sweaty palms when they are nervous. Sweaty palms make it difficult to play, and the salt in your sweat will erode your strings and possibly damage the neck and body of the guitar.
Sweaty palms reduce the friction of the finger and chord making it difficult to stay on the fret and string as your finger slips off. If you have sweaty palms it will also mean you will have to shell out for more strings than your sweatless companions. Sweaty palms are down to your genetics and emotional state, but is it possible to reduce the amount of sweat you produce?
For players that have a light and/or occasional sweat you can normally reduce the amount of sweat by washing your hands in soap and cold water as and when needed. One traditional technique that flamenco guitarists swear by is to soak your hands in a mixture of water and vinegar. You can also reduce nervous sweat by staying away from stimulants such as coffee, tea and chocolate.
If you are a persistent sweater, a condition known as ‘hyperhidrosis’, don’t worry; you are not alone! We recommend you go to see a dermatologist as everybody’s skin is different and you may need an individual consultation. You never know what could be causing the sweating. Remember to take your guitar with you, if there is a material on your guitar that you are allergic to the doctor will possibly identify it.
In cases of hyperhidrosis there are many treatments available. A doctor may prescribe you a medicine and/or a hand deodorant that is composed of aluminum salts that is very effective against excessive sweat. In extreme cases the doctor may recommend Botox injections into your palms. Botox is a very effective method of avoiding sweat.
At the very extreme end of treatments is surgery. Sympathectomy is the surgical process of cutting a nerve in the body. In the surgery the surgeon will sever or remove the nerves that are causing the excessive sweat.
The most important thing to remember is that everybody’s hands sweat. If this is taking away from your enjoyment of playing or affecting your technique, you should go and see a specialist straight away. They will know what to do and you will be able to get on with what you love; playing!