There’s literally a thing called hand models. And foot models but let’s not go there, I’m not a foot person.
Nor am I a hand person. Because if we’re all being honest here, I have sweaty hands. I’ve always had sweaty hands. There’s the rare time I’ll be sitting at home and notice my hands are bone dry, potentially like they’re supposed to be. But that’s only a guess because as far back as I can remember I’ve always had excessively sweaty hands.
I recall in grade school, grade one maybe two or three, first noticing I sweat too much. I would wear heavy sweaters and drip all day but never remove my sweater. I ruined so many light coloured shirts. My mother would try to bleach them but within a few short months I had horrible yellow pit stains on all shirts. I was always self conscious of lifting my arm for any sport or high reaching of a shelf. Full well aware that I would most likely have a dark circle under my arm, that yes, even in a black shirt is noticeable.
I would position my arm pit under the air dryers at schools, malls and sports arenas (yes I played sports but sweating pregame wasn’t socially acceptable.)
I remember my first boyfriend that pointed it out. Walking down a train track holding hands in spring time. At this point I didn’t care that my hand sweated, I like him and figured he wouldn’t care or point it out if he liked me. But he did point it out. And it’s the first time I recall someone else pointing out that it wasn’t normal. He didn’t say anything in a bad way. Just simply asked, is that my hand sweating or yours? Yes, it was mine, badly. While he still held my hand, I wanted to let go. Needless to say, he still holds a place in my heart for that little offer of compassion.
Job interviews was a whole different ball game. I found myself apologizing that my hands were sweaty, trying to dry my hands before shaking hands, finding clothing that would be absorbent enough to properly wipe sweat off my palms the split second before the dreaded hand shake to at least marginally cut down on the amount of embarrassment I would transfer to my potential employer.
And the look of horror people have on their faces when they shake your unintentional sweaty palm, is heart breaking. I suppose that’s what started my social anxiety.
Sitting on my hands. Hands in the pockets. Hands too full to accept a hand shake. Hands with fresh hand cream. Just washed hands. Gloves. Sweaters with thumb holes. Long sleeved shirts. Hoodies with hand pocket.
As a young adult, I began researching how to stop this hyperhidrosis. Yup, I finally began research online. I got a job at a pharmacy and learnt of the wonderful magic called Drysol! It looked like a bingo dabbed for your arm pits. (Some magnesium/ aluminum chemical that binds with your sweat then falls into the gland and blocks the gland.) It stung, yup. Like road rash wounds in a windstorm. But I would spend hours meticulously dabbing the liquid into my armpits and eventually I turned it to my palms.
I remember friends that noticed. I remember lovers I was scared to touch. I remember the way alcohol made it stop. The way any substance made it stop! Like a miracle I had reprieve. But not forever.
I remember my exes making ugly comments.
I remember the first time my husband commented on my sweaty palmed situation. I suppose with it taking nearly ten years for him to notice, I did a good job hiding it. Never holding hands helped.
I remember my step children, at the tender age of three, maybe four, saying something to the effect of “your hands are too hot” I had tried to come up with something cute and witty in the moment and pretty sure it was flimsy and lame like “I’m just warm” which basically sums up my excuse that I used for life.
My own children never said boo about my sweaty hands when they were growing up. And I remember the first realization they shared this horrible gene defect with me. How heart broken I felt.
And remember that time we all went through a pandemic where people stopped shaking hands altogether? That was amazing for hyperhidrosis sufferers. I’ll happily accept elbow bumps for the rest of my life. But that’s already ended.
So I return to embarrassment, wondering why am I different? Why did I get stuck with these horrible palms?
My daughter told me the other day that her teacher said “people with oily hands stay young looking longer” “it’s the oil that preserves your complexion.”
Granted, I’ve never researched this fact since some things are better left- lovely.
I struggle with this issue less now regardless. I’m older so I think it’s slowed and I care less. Although just a couple weeks ago I shook hands with a government official who I’m sure cringed just slightly after. I simply apologized in my mind for being too hot to handle. And then tried my best to make up with how smart I sounded.
She might have still left thinking, ugh that’s girls hands were so sweaty gross. But I guess any impression is still better than no impression at all.
So I’ll take my oily hands, my sweaty palms for a chance of leaving a mark, a damp spot on your skin and a youthful complexion for myself.
Because I’m 38 years old and only now learning to love everything about myself. Including my lovely hands.