Anxiety & Sweating: What You Need to Know to Manage

December 16, 2020 5 min read

anxiety and sweating

As annoying as it may be, sweating is a natural function of your body. It helps balance your body’s temperature with the external environment. However, sweating can occur for no external reason at all. Sometimes it is triggered by our emotions, like anxiety, nervousness, or stress. Keep reading as we delve into the relationship between anxiety and sweating.

What’s the Relationship Between Anxiety & Sweating

Anxiety and sweating often occur at the same time because your nervous system is responsible for signaling your sweat glands. Sometimes your sweat glands are triggered when you are anxious. Conversely, when you sweat excessively, you may also experience anxiety because you feel embarrassed in front of others.

It’s like the old paradox, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” But in this case, it’s more like “Does sweating cause anxiety? Or does anxiety cause sweating?” One of the most common causes of excessive sweating is anxiety, which also means that sweating is a very common symptom of anxiety.

Anxiety and sweating occurring at the same time may be a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder. Normally, your sweat glands receive signals from the nervous system to release sweat when you are in an environment with increased temperature or heat. Anxiety can cause your heart rate to increase, which in turn, increases your body temperature.

As such, anxiety contributes to how much or how little you sweat as it activates sweat glands by causing your nerves to overreact. The overreaction of your sweat glands is what causes hyperhidrosis, the excessive production of sweat. It was reported by the International Hyperhidrosis Society that about 32% of people that suffer from anxiety disorder experience excessive sweating.

Furthermore, if you encounter night sweats anxiety may be the culprit. Many times untreated anxiety can cause the same symptoms at night as it does during the day.

You can learn how to manage your sweat by changing your routine or practicing ways to calm your nerves.

Nervous Sweat vs Regular Sweating

Nervousness sweating is more common than you think. Many cases of excessive sweating may be as a result of nervous sweat. While regular sweat is produced from the eccrine glands, nervous sweat (also known as stress sweat) is often produced from the apocrine gland. This type of sweat contains about 80% water and 20% nutrients.

Nervous sweat or stress sweat makes your body secrete about 30 times more sweat than normal. The sweat produced from the apocrine gland is generally thicker and contains more lipids and proteins. Thus bacteria act more on it, causing it to smell fouler than regular sweat.

Where You Can Experience Nervous Sweat

Because your apocrine gland is activated when you become nervous, more sweat is released than necessary. The apocrine gland releases sweat from parts of the body abundant in hair follicles like the underarms, scalp, and groin.

However, you may also notice that your hands, feet, and forehead become sweaty and clammy when you get nervous. Sweating on these parts of your body may cause more discomfort because it is hard to hide. As a result, you may experience a lack of confidence and withdrawal from social gatherings. With anxiety sweaty palms and feet are often accompanied by dry mouth and/or heart palpitations.

How to Manage Anxiety & Nervous Sweating

You can learn how to manage your sweat by changing your routine or practicing ways to calm your nerves. Below are some ways to manage anxiety and nervous sweating.

Checking your mental health and stress level is key to managing anxiety and nervous sweating.

Mental Health & Stress Management

Checking your mental health and stress level is key to managing anxiety and nervous sweating. To start, learn how to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, engage in physical activity and manage your expectations.

When possible, identify the source of your anxiety. Is it caused by your profuse sweating or is there another source of stress in your life? Many times when we feel anxious, we lose our perspective and even overreact to what others think is a normal problem.

Once you’ve identified the source of your anxiety, take steps to manage it. If the situation is literally out of your control, then proactively work on what you can manage… like your attitude. When you let your anxiety escalate into a physical fight or flight response, your breathing intensifies, as does your blood flow and your sweat production.

Most importantly, remember that everybody sweats. And most people sweat (or stutter or experience forgetfulness) when they are anxious or nervous.

Meditation & Exercise

Anti-anxiety practices, like meditation, may significantly reduce how much you sweat. You can meditate by sitting quietly in an equally quiet environment. Take a deep, slow breath, hold it in for at least three seconds, and then release it very slowly. Repeat as many times as needed to clear your mind and calm your nerves. 

You can also download an application on your smartphone to provide guided meditation or calming sounds. Believe it or not, being still and quiet for short periods throughout your day can help to you cool down and reduce sweating.

nervousness sweating

Physical activity, like jogging, is also highly effective in reducing anxiety. Exerting yourself through exercise works because of the natural endorphin release you experience. Endorphins relieve pain and reduce stress, and stimulate feelings of pleasure and well being, all of which calms you down.

Manage the Symptoms

Another way to help manage your panic sweat is to treat the actual symptom of sweating, instead of the anxiety. Below are a few ideas on how to treat excessive sweating by yourself or with the help of your doctor.

Apply a clinical strength antiperspirant to the areas of your body where you sweat the most. Clinical strength antiperspirants contain the highest amount of active ingredients allowed without a prescription. As such, test the product on a small patch of skin before your first use. There are also effective antiperspirants made especially for your face or hands.

Use antiperspirant wipes to control sweating. They work the same way that conventional antiperspirants work, except they are pre-moistened with the right amount of product on each wipe. They are also conveniently pre-packaged if you need to apply during the day.

If you suffer from hyperhidrosis in general, your doctor may prescribe pharmaceutical-grade antiperspirants or creams to control your sweat glands. There are several other medical treatments used to treat excessive sweating, like oral medications and Botox.

Wardrobe Adjustments

Adjusting your wardrobe can also help you manage situational anxiety-induced sweating. You can start by wearing clothes made from breathable fabric to help keep your skin cool and dry. In general, most natural fabrics are breathable and allow for better air circulation and help regulate your body temperature. Conversely, synthetic fabrics typically retain moisture and/or odor.

Avoid wearing tight or constricting clothing. Clothing that is too form-fitting doesn’t allow for airflow and traps body heat. Try layering your clothes, so you can regulate your body temperature by removing a layer without compromising your appearance.

Don't let sweat marks make you even more anxious! Save your clothes (and your sanity) by wearing Ejis sweat proof undergarments (buy in our shop or on Amazon). Our sweat proof boxer briefs and undershirts are designed to keep sweat from reaching your clothes. They also have odor-fighting technology so you smell fresh throughout your day.

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