Why Do You Sweat When You’re Cold: Causes and Treatments

We often associate sweating with hot weather – so why do we sweat when we’re cold? Unlike most types of sweat, which are caused by heat or physical activity, cold sweats happen in cold weather or chilly environments. They often begin for no apparent reason, and they can be difficult to manage.

There are several causes for cold sweats, from the clothes you’re wearing to high levels of stress and anxiety. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to treat and relieve symptoms of cold sweats. Here are seven reasons why you may be sweating when you’re cold as well as some sure-fire tips and tricks to manage cold sweats.

7 Reasons Why You Sweat When You’re Cold

Sweating is our body’s way of lowering our body temperature and keeping us cool – so why do we sweat if we’re cold? Here are six reasons you sweat while you’re cold:

1. Your Environment

Sweating is a side effect of your body heating up – so, when you’re in a cold environment, you may sweat a bit as your body tries to keep itself warm.

Furthermore, rapid shifts in external temperature can confuse your body’s internal thermostat. For example, you may experience cold sweats when you move from a cold outdoor environment to a heated car or building as your body regulates its temperature.

2. Your Clothing

In cold environments, the more clothing you can stack on, the better – right? Not so much. Although more layers of clothing will certainly keep you warm, they may keep you too warm, causing you to sweat.

Clothing that is too tight won’t offer any room for air to circulate, which leads to trapped sweat and soiled clothes. Furthermore, certain fabrics like wool, nylon and synthetic blends are more likely to cause sweating, as they help retain warmth.

3. Hyperhidrosis

For some individuals, the cause of sweating when cold goes beyond environmental factors or clothing. Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by sweating more than what is necessary for internal temperature regulation, meaning you sweat in situations where you shouldn’t necessarily be sweating – like in cold environments. Now, keep in mind that hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. A little sweat here and there is completely normal (and healthy).

Nearly 5% of the world’s population experiences hyperhidrosis – so it’s more common than you think. If you suspect that your cold sweats are attributed to hyperhidrosis, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and explore potential treatment options.

Read More: Hyperhidrosis Treatment for Armpits: Full List of Solutions

4. Stress and Anxiety

Have you ever started to sweat during a scary movie scene or before an important event? If so, high levels of stress and anxiety may be to blame.

Stress sweating (or nervous sweating) occurs as a natural fight or flight response to nerve-wracking, exciting or tense situations unrelated to external temperature or underlying medical conditions. So, if you’re overly anxious, your body releases sweat so that you don’t overheat – even if you feel cold.

5. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, like those brought on by the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause, can also be the culprit of cold sweats. As hormones fluctuate, your brain’s internal thermostat becomes more sensitive, making you more susceptible to hot or cold sensations. As a result, you may begin to sweat in situations that you don’t normally sweat in.

6. Medical Conditions and Illness

Medical conditions like hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism and diabetes can cause excessive sweating – so they may be to blame if you’re experiencing constant cold sweats. However, cold sweats don’t necessarily mean you have a serious medical condition.

Some illnesses, like the flu and the common cold, are accompanied by cold sweats. If you’re feeling under the weather and you begin to sweat even though you feel cold, it is likely a symptom of the illness that will pass as your body begins to heal.

There’s a common misconception that sweating in cold weather makes you sick. While cold weather doesn’t make you sick, you may be more susceptible to certain viruses that thrive in low temperatures.

7. Medications

Certain medications can cause secondary hyperhidrosis or diaphoresis, both of which are characterized by unexplained excessive sweating. The following medications have been known to cause excessive sweating:

  • Antidepressants
  • Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Antibiotics
  • Opioids
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Diabetes medications
  • Cancer treatments
  • Hormone treatments

If you believe that a medication you are taking may be causing excessive sweating, consult with your doctor.

How to Manage Sweating When Cold

Although cold sweats are uncomfortable, there are plenty of ways to keep them at bay. Here are some tips and tricks to manage sweating while cold:

1. Dress Appropriately

Instead of piling on heavy sweaters and thick jackets, think lighter. Strategically layering your clothing in colder months is a great way to stay warm (without overheating) and manage sweat. Here’s how to layer for cold weather:

  • Base layer, for absorption. We recommend a sweat proof undershirt to keep your skin dry. If your skin is damp, the cooling process of evaporation may cause shivering.
  • Middle layer, for insulation. A mid-layer garment made of insulating material will keep your body warm.
  • Outer layer, for protection. A protective outer layer is key for protecting yourself against the elements. A coat or jacket that is built to shield you from rain, wind and snow is a good choice – and, you can remove it if you get too hot.

Looking for an undershirt that is guaranteed to keep you dry and block sweat from reaching your outer layers? Thompson Tee’s sweat proof undershirts pair seamlessly with any outfit, remaining virtually invisible and giving you an added layer of protection.

Check Our Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Sweat Proof Undershirt

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2. Try Relaxation Techniques

Reducing stress is easier said than done – however, implementing relaxation techniques into your daily routine may help lower your anxiety levels over time and, as a result, ease cold sweating symptoms.

Making time for light exercise (like walking or yoga) three to four times a week can help regulate your nervous system, resulting in lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Mindful breathing and meditation are another quick, simple addition to your morning or night routine that will help keep you grounded and increase neuroplasticity over time.

Read more: 6 Ways to Stop Nervous Sweating

3. Be Mindful of Your Diet

Did you know that some foods cause sweating? Hot drinks and hot or spicy foods raise your internal temperature, causing sweating after eating. So, even when you’re cold, a warm beverage or heavily spiced meal may lead to sweating.

Read More: 10+ Foods That Reduce Excessive Sweating

4. Stay Hydrated

Did you know that dehydration can disrupt your body’s natural cooling mechanisms? When you’re hydrated, your body is better at adapting to extreme temperatures, reducing the likelihood of cold sweats. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration and help your body regulate its internal temperature.

5. Change Your Antiperspirant

An antiperspirant can make a huge difference in your ability to manage cold sweats. A mild, aluminum-free antiperspirant should do the trick. Any overly powerful product may strip your skin of essential oils and bacteria, which may cause odor and irritation. Keep in mind that an antiperspirant isn’t a deodorant, and vice versa. While some products do both, make sure you read the label carefully before you buy.

Read more: How to Stop Sweating Naturally: 16 Remedies + Tips

When to Seek Medical Advice

Although cold sweating is an annoyance, it’s often harmless. However, in some cases, cold sweats may be attributed to something more serious.

If you begin to experience chills, rapid heartbeat, paleness, nausea, dizziness or muscle weakness, see a doctor immediately. When combined with such symptoms, cold sweating is likely a sign of illness.

If you feel that your cold sweats are uncontrollable and consistently have a negative impact on your quality of life, you may choose to consult with your doctor to ensure that there is not an underlying condition to blame. Your doctor may offer a diagnosis as well as provide medical treatments.

The Sweat Proof Undershirt to Keep You Warm & Dry

Cold sweats are uncomfortable – but they don’t have to be.

Thompson Tee’s sweat proof undershirts available for both men and women are guaranteed to keep you cool, dry and comfortable 24/7 – whether you’re hitting the slopes or nervously preparing for a presentation in a cold office building. Armed with patented sweatproof technology, they completely absorb underarm sweat and release it as vapor, meaning you can avoid embarrassing sweat stains and discomfort.

Keep cold sweats under control and live comfortably and confidently with a Thompson Tee!

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