No More Hiding Her Hands



Every morning, Janell Mount opens her jewelry cabinet to pick the perfect accessory for the day.

Standing in front of the mirror, she rubs her favorite hand lotion into her hands before sliding on rings and fastening the clasps of necklaces and bracelets.

“I’ve always loved jewelry, but now I can wear it without being embarrassed about my hands,” the Harrisburg woman says. “I couldn’t show it off like I do now.”

Hiding away

For 30 years, Janell lived with a condition called hyperhidrosis that left her hands and feet dripping wet with sweat. The condition, which started when she was a freshman in high school, affected nearly every part of her life.

“I tried to will it away and to hide it, but nothing worked,” said Janell, gently rubbing her palms as she talks. “It’s hard to be confident about anything when you’re constantly worried that your hands are going to start sweating.”

Janell had another relative with the condition, but didn’t start having trouble with it until she was a teen. The condition grew far worse than just having moist hands. Her palms would perspire so much that the sleeves of her shirt would be soggy and she would literally drip puddles of sweat.

She would sit in class and notice that suddenly her hands would start sweating so much that the notebook she was writing on was soggy. She would do anything to avoid shaking or holding hands.

“Imagine talking on the phone and the sweat is dripping down your arm,” Janell said. “I couldn’t write on a piece of paper without the ink smearing on the page or the page sticking to my hands.”

No permanent options

As the years progressed, she tried a variety of treatments to control the constant sweating. One doctor prescribed a super-strong anti-perspirant that she’d roll on her palms daily, but it only helped so much and would stain everything she came into contact with. Others suggested electroshocks or injections for her hands, but the treatments didn’t have high success rates.

“After a few years, I just gave it up” Janell says. “I figured I’d just have to live with it.”

Over the years, the problem forced her to make subtle and not-so-subtle adjustments to her lifestyle. She wanted to work in a jewelry store, but her sweaty handprints on the glass case made it impossible.

Years later, working as a life insurance marketing specialist, she avoided situations where she has to shake hands with others. She even arrived purposely late at church so she wouldn’t have to shake hands.

About 15 years ago, Janell first heard about endoscopic thoracic symphathectomy surgery, a procedure that cuts the nerve located on her spine that controls the sweating. While she was interested in taking action to improve her condition, the doctors that specialized in the surgery were located in other regions of the country.

“I was a little scared about the idea of it at first and there was no way that I could travel that far,” she said.

Finding hope

However, when Janell’s mother went to an appointment at Sanford Vascular Associates for another condition, she learned that her doctor, vascular surgeon Gregory Schultz, was experienced in the procedure. She encouraged her daughter to have the surgery.

Five years ago, Janell consulted with Dr. Schultz and decided to go forward with the operation. After anesthesia, she had her lung temporarily deflated to allow the surgeon to use an endoscope to make small cuts to the nerve that controlled sweating to her feet and hands.

“It took one and a half hours and when I woke up, the sweating was gone,” she says. “I kept waiting for it to come back, but it never did.”

Having dry hands has made a huge difference in her self-confidence and professional life. She now makes presentations to large groups of people without worrying about sweat soaking her clothes.

She’s discovered that she loves using hand lotion and always keeps several bottles around. And she loves to put on rings that draw attention her hands.

“I wish I could have done it years ago,” says Janell, smoothing on fragrant cream on her fingers with a smile. “It sounds silly, but using hand lotion is one of my favorite things to do.”

Posted Date: July 2012

No More Hiding Her Hands

Janell Mount got used to avoiding people to hide her excessively sweating hands. A surgery to stop the constant perspiration has changed her outlook and her life.