Stress Sweat

Do everyday stressors leave your armpits embarrassingly wet? Understand the causes of stress sweat and how to keep your cool.

What Is Stress Sweating?

Sweating is a stress response that helps cool your body down so you don’t overheat. However, stress sweat is when your body sweats due to a nerve-wracking, tense or exciting situation. It's not caused by exercise, a hot day, or a medical condition. Instead, it’s an automatic, evolutionary reaction to stressful experiences.

Experiencing stress sweat is rare for most people, and antiperspirants can typically prevent visible sweat marks and body odor. But if you sweat profusely at the first sign of stress, your reaction might be more severe.


What Causes Stress Sweat?

Stress sweating occurs when your brain perceives a threat and triggers your fight-or-flight response. Stress fires up your sympathetic nervous system in preparation to react, which raises your heart rate and your body temperature.

Your sympathetic nervous system takes over, putting your body on high alert. The pituitary gland releases cortisol and adrenaline to recruit more energy sources, and you sweat to cool down.

Increased Heart Rate

You start to feel anxious. Your heart rate and blood pressure spike.

Surge in Body Temperature

Your internal body temperature rises as your body prepares to fend off the stressor.

Stress Sweat and Odor

To cool down, you perspire and produce a noticeable odor.

What Are the Side Effects of Stress Sweat?

Stress sweat affects everyone differently. Typical side effects of stress sweat include:

Obvious Sweat Marks

When sweat pools around your armpits or back, those areas of your shirt look darker. To make matters worse, worrying about visible sweat marks can also make you perspire more.

Read more:The Science Behind Armpit Stains & How to Stop Them

Foul Odor

It's not your imagination: Stress sweat smells worse than other types of sweat - and for a good reason. From an evolutionary standpoint, putting off a strong, repulsive scent deters predators who are out to eat you.

But it's not the sweat that smells. When stressed, the apocrine gland produces a white, odorless fluid. When mixed with bacteria on your skin, it creates a potent combination – unlike the odor created by your eccrine glands after a brisk walk.

Social Anxiety

An upcoming presentation or family gathering could trigger sweat and the embarrassment that follows. You might be tempted to avoid stressful social situations like these altogether, but this isn’t an effective long-term solution.

Outward Perceptions

According to research, unfortunately, the smell of stress sweat can influence how others perceive your competence, confidence and trustworthiness..

Impact on Professional Advancement

Stress sweat can destroy your confidence and hold back your career. One study found that participants who reported having more confidence in school earned higher wages and were promoted faster than those with lower confidence.

In other words, exuding confidence makes you appear more capable and can jumpstart your professional career. If stress sweat significantly affects your confidence, your career could suffer.

How Do You Stop Stress Sweat?

There's no escaping stressors at work and in everyday life. But when the pressure mounts, you need a way to cope to prevent stress sweat.

Here are some stress-boosting tactics that can help you stay calm when the stressors pile up.

Wear a Sweat Proof Undershirt

Does the idea of sweating stress you out? Eliminate this stressor by wearing an effective sweat proof undershirt. Thompson Tee's integrated sweat barrier completely absorbs underarm sweat and allows it to evaporate so you forget you're even sweating.


When dehydrated, your body produces sweat to cool you down. Extreme stress also dries out the mouth, so drink plenty of water if you're giving a speech or presentation.

Read more:6 Natural Remedies + Tips to Prevent Sweating

Try Deep Breathing

Focused breathing is an effective way to dissolve stress. But to reduce stress long-term, you need to dedicate 20 to 30 minutes per day to deep breathing. Take a long, deep breath, hold it for 5-10 seconds, release and repeat.

Acknowledge Your Stress and Its Source

You face stress daily – but do you ever talk yourself through it? Say or write down the cause of your stress, and it won't seem so daunting.

Reduce Decision Overload With Routines

Have a big week ahead at work? Stick to a morning routine so small, menial tasks aren't competing for mindshare and pushing you over the edge.

Write a Specific and Actionable To-Do List

If you're stressed thinking about everything that needs to get done, write it down. Visualizing your to-do list makes tasks seem more manageable and lowers feelings of overwhelm. Attacking your list will also provide some relief.

Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Feeling overwhelmed? Relieve stress and tension anywhere with progressive muscle relaxation. Close your eyes, tense each body part (starting with your feet) for 5 seconds, then relax. Once you reach your head, your nerves should melt away.

Listen to Soothing Music

Studies show that listening to music lowers heart rate and blood pressure and slows breathing. So if you're stressed about an upcoming speech or interview, turn on your favorite tunes beforehand to stay calm and reduce stress sweat.