If you sweat throughout the day, consider it a good thing. Sweat is your body's natural way of cooling off and eliminating toxins, so a little underarm wetness shouldn't be a cause for concern. But if you feel like you're sweating more than usual — and feel uncomfortable as a result — you might want to look into a few unexpected causes of sweating, as well as what you can do about them.
While what's considered "too much sweat" is entirely up to you, "it is usually clinically defined as requiring a change of clothes, or interfering with your life," Shilpi Agarwal, MD, a board-certified Family Medicine Physician, tells Bustle. "If you are also sweating a lot and don't find antiperspirants and deodorants that help you, that could be part of the problem. Additionally, most patients report that it is the odor that bothers them as well as the wetness." Since the bacteria on our bodies thrive in moist environments, extra sweat can result in increased body odor.
If you seem extra sweaty, despite showering regularly and applying antiperspirant, it could be due to a few habits and/or underlying health conditions that can boost your chances of sweating more. But no need to worry — there are many things you can do to help the symptoms you may be experiencing. Here are a few things experts say can make you sweat more than usual.
1. Not Taking Enough Time To Cool Down After A Workout
It's obviously expected that you'll sweat while working out. But if you do a particularly strenuous exercise, and then don't take the time to cool down afterward, don't be surprised if you keep sweating long after you leave the gym.
"Often times when we exercise our heart rate and core body temperature rises. This causes us to sweat to cool down, but many times if we don't properly cool down or take enough time to do so before say, hopping in the shower and getting to work or dinner meetings, we continue to sweat," Agarwal says. "This isn't dangerous; it simply means you need to take more time to cool down after exercise." Perhaps by walking on for a few minutes on the treadmill, until your heart rate returns to normal.
You might also want to hop in the shower, and rinse off with cool water. "Doing a 'cold shot' in the shower for 30 seconds can bring down the temperature and sweating as well," she says. So you can get on with your day, sweat-free.
2. Social Anxiety
If you have social anxiety, then you might feel yourself getting nervous before heading out into public. Your heart rate might rise, you might get shaky hands, or feel like you want to stay home. But did you know that social anxiety can cause you to sweat, too?
"Many of us have a small amount of social anxiety, but when it gets severe, sweating of the palms, armpits, and even around the underwear area is common," Agarwal says. "This happens because our body is producing chemicals that send us into 'fight or flight' without meaning to, and one of the ways to deal with this is sweating. Again, not dangerous — but it should be addressed by meditation, visualization, or seeing your doctor about some other tips and [potentially] medications." If you experience anxiety in social situations, speaking with loved ones or a therapist may help to alleviate some of these symptoms as well.
3. An Overactive Thyroid
Some underlying health conditions, such as overactive thyroid, can lead to excessive sweating. "Although this is more rare, when we have irregularities in our thyroid hormone, one of the side effects or symptoms can be sweating," says Agarwal. "This happens more often when the thyroid is overactive. Your doctor can measure your thyroid levels and see if they are within normal range. If your thyroid is abnormal, you can be started on a medication or given a treatment plan by your doctor."
4. Menstrual Changes
Having your period comes with a slew of varying symptoms, and excessive sweating can also be one of them.
"During our period our levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other female hormones are roller-coastering to make way for Aunt Flo," Agarwal says. "Unfortunately, these changes can sometimes cause core body temperature changes and some women note sweating ... closer to the their period or during the four to five days before. This usually gets better once your period starts, and isn't dangerous."
5. Some Cancers
Because there are so many causes of sweating, you shouldn't immediately assume you have cancer just because your underarms are a bit damp. But if you keep waking up in the middle of the night absolutely drenched in sweat, you should definitely speak with a doctor, as night sweats can sometimes be a sign of cancers like Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"This is a cancer of the lymph nodes and one of the late signs of this is excessive sweating at night, termed as 'night sweats,'" Dr. Mashfika N. Alam, a family physician at icliniq, tells Bustle. "You can try using a cold wash cloth for comfort but there isn't much you can do to prevent it other than treating the underlying conditions."
This type of cancer is pretty rare, but if you're experiencing night sweats, do speak up. "If you are waking up in a pool of sweat or feeling very sweaty when you wake up, see your doctor to get a few blood tests," Agarwal says. No need to panic though — speaking with your doctor will help evaluate the route of the problem, and any courses of treatment necessary to help.
If you have a condition called hyperhidrosis you will notice extra sweat on places like your underarms and palms. "An estimated two to three percent of Americans suffer from excessive sweating of the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis) or of the palms and soles of the feet (palmoplantar hyperhidrosis)," Dr. Eric Presser, an associate professor with University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, tells Bustle. "Underarm problems tend to start in late adolescence, while palm and sole sweating often begins earlier, around the age 13 (on the average). Untreated, these problems may continue throughout life."
But don't worry, as it is treatable. Extra strength antiperspirants are often prescribed by dermatologists. And some even recommend Botox injections. "For those with more severe sweating, Botox injections are FDA approved to treat excessive armpit sweating and can be used off-label to the palms, soles, scalp, face, and other areas of the body," board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein, MD, FAAD tells Bustle. "This procedure needs to be repeated appropriately every 6 months to maintain results." Just speak with your doctor to weigh the benefits and risks.
Did you know that sweat can cause you to sweat? "Very often we get an anxiety-sweat loop where our anxiety initially causes a sweat response. The more we notice the sweat the more we are reminded that we are anxious. And that heightened anxiety causes more sweat," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web radio show, tells Bustle. "It’s a nasty loop that we often get into whereby our sweat caused by anxiety creates more sweat, which creates more anxiety." But, if you confront head-on what is making you anxious, you can stop this loop in its tracks.
If you're feeling passionate about something, you might notice that you're covered in a thin layer of excess sweat, soon after. "Not sexual activity but literally feeling in love, attracted, and aroused can cause us to sweat," Klapow says. "These emotions are associated with rise in temperature in our body. So basically when we are 'hot for someone,' we can literally become hot and sweat." This is just our body's natural response, and nothing that's odd or dangerous.
9. Increased Metabolism
If you just ate a big meal, then you might notice that you feel a bit sweaty afterward. This is usually a common response, and is linked to your metabolism kicking into gear.
"A by-product of increased metabolism is heat," Dr. Scott Schreiber, a chiropractor, nutritionist, and acupuncturist, tells Bustle. "As a result, your body produces sweat to cool down." If this happens to you, go ahead and relax for a bit after eating, and you should feel fine in no time.
But do speak with a doctor if you seem to experience uncomfortable levels of sweat, after eating or otherwise. "Repeated sweating, inability to stop, or not being able to cool down can be a problem," Schreiber says. "There are some people that just sweat a lot; this is a normal condition. But if the amount that you sweat has increased recently, you should get it checked out. The best treatment for excessive sweating is dealing with the underlying cause."
10. Some Prescription Drugs
If you're taking a prescription drug, check the label for side effects, as some might cause excessive sweating. "Certain drugs such as Adderall or other methamphetamine derivatives can cause sweating," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Guanche, owner of the Bella Skin Institute, tells Bustle. So if you think your pills may be to blame, schedule an appointment with your doctor. They can help you figure out what's going on, and offer suggestions on how to balance it out.
In some cases, you can thank your dear ol' mom and dad for your sweaty, sweaty ways. "Excessive sweating is normally a genetic problem," Guanche says. "People are born with it." But since it can also be connected to your hormones, underlying health conditions, and even some mental health issues, do speak with your doctor if it seems like it's becoming a problem for you.
"The decision to treat any medical condition should involve the consideration of the pros and cons of therapy, how severe the problem is, and how much the condition impacts the patient's ability to carry out [their] daily work and leisure activities," Osita Onugha, MD, a thoracic surgeon at Providence Saint John's Health Center, tells Bustle. "Severe conditions may interfere with many activities of daily living and patients report a reduced quality of life." So don't suffer in silence. Talk with your doctor, get to the bottom of the issue, and get back to feelin' like your old self again.