HR Strange But True!
January 11, 2007

If you've experienced the sweaty palms and perspiration induced by a job interview or important meeting, you'll probably empathize with people who suffer from hyperhidrosis, a medical condition characterized by nearly constant excessive sweating.

One group that definitely feels for these people is the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS), which has put together some tips for no-sweat -- or at least low-sweat -- job interviews and other stressful events.

Some of the suggestions are obvious, such as doing your homework on a potential employer (e.g., visiting the organization's website and reviewing its background, products, and offerings), visiting career websites for tips on what to expect during interviews, and preparing yourself by writing down key points and characteristics about yourself and examples of how you've succeeded. Other tips are less intuitive and more to the point. They include:

  • Apply antiperspirant to your underarms once in the morning and again before bedtime. Twice-daily application -- and especially before bedtime -- has been shown to be more effective at keeping you dry. Antiperspirants may be used on hands and feet as well as on underarms.
  • Steer clear of sweat-inducing spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol in the days leading up to an interview or client presentation. This will help you be clearheaded and aroma-free, and will minimize sweating. It is also a good idea to forgo the coffee offered by the interviewer too, opting instead for a cool glass of water.
  • Be sure to shower and wash with antibacterial soap at least once a day. When perspiration and bacteria mix, body odor results.
  • Dress for success -- wear polished and professional outfits made of natural materials (e.g., cotton) rather than synthetic materials (e.g., nylon). At the very least, ensure that your under layers are made of natural fabrics that offer more air circulation around the body and wick away moisture. Avoid wearing suit jackets except during professional meetings and interviews.
  • Black or white solid colors or patterned fabrics with a black and white background will best camouflage underarm sweat marks.
  • Keep a handkerchief in your pocket to absorb extra sweat on your palm before shaking hands with a colleague or interviewer, or swipe your hand on your pants leg as you raise it to meet the offering hand (clothing made from absorbent materials like cotton or wool or in a darker shade are less likely to show sweat marks).
  • Keep a travel-sized antiperspirant at your desk or in your car or purse for quick application before interviews, presentations, and meetings.
  • Schedule client appointments and interviews earlier in the day -- you will be fresher physically and mentally, and your commute is likely to be cooler in the mornings.
  • Participate in regular stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, yoga or other exercises. For immediate anxiety (and sweat) reduction, a breathing exercise will help. Note: A great routine right before "showtime" is to breathe slowly through the nose for 5 seconds and blow out through your mouth for another 5 seconds; repeat for 5 minutes or as necessary.
Hyperhidrosis is no laughing matter: In a 2005 survey of people with the condition, 86 percent reported they have experienced negative comments about their sweating, which compounds the emotional impact that excessive sweating has on its sufferers. And another recent study found that 42 percent of the respondents had actually changed career paths because of their sweating problems.

The IHHS website,, includes a physician finder to help anyone with excessive sweating find medical help, information on additional treatment options, and a comprehensive collection of insurance and reimbursement tools, including downloadable forms, which can help sufferers work with their physicians, health insurance plans, and employers to get the correct coverage for necessary treatments.

Source: The International Hyperhidrosis Society

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