Cold sweaty skin – causes, treatment

Cold sweaty skin

Cold and damp skin manifests itself in the form of sudden sweating. These occur like a surge and trigger a strong feeling of cold in the affected person. The cold sweat in this case is due to low blood flow to the skin.

What is cold sweaty skin?

Sweat glands located below the epidermis (epidermis) are responsible for the production of sweat. Through the pores, the secretion reaches the surface of the skin. The excretion of sweat serves to regulate the heat balance of the body. 99% of sweat consists of water. In addition, sweat contains electrolytes, amino acids, urea, sugar and ascorbic acid.

Man has eccrine and apocrine sweat glands. Unlike the apocrine sweat glands, the eccrine glands are distributed throughout the body. They produce a clear sweat. The apocrine glands are located exclusively in the hairy areas of the body and the hairless nipples. They produce a milky secretion in only small quantities. While the pH produced by the eccrine sweat glands is in the acidic range (pH 4.5), the value of apocrine products is almost pH-neutral (pH 7.2).

The eccrine glands secrete the cold sweat, which occurs especially during stress or anxiety reactions. Perspiration is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. It represents the thermal center of the human body. If humans expel the hormone norepinephrine, there is less blood flow to the skin. Because the resulting moist skin of humans is a biological defense mechanism, blood reserves are provided by reducing blood circulation.


Cold sweat is often due to a shock reaction. These include stress, physical strain, mental and physical shock, heart attackcirculatory collapsemenstrual period, illness or internal bleeding. Normally, the sweat produced serves to cool the skin. The sweater does not feel the perspiration as cold.

In the cases of the listed causes, the eccrine sweat glands do not release the water-containing secretion to cool the body, but to express an alarm signal. This is associated with accompanying symptoms that can provide a first indication of an actual, disease-related cause.

The cold sweat can concentrate on certain areas of the body. On the forehead, cold sweat can be an indication of an existing hypoglycaemia. In conjunction with heart disease, the cause may lie in pulmonary edema.

Diseases with this symptom


The complications that can occur with cold sweat are of a different nature. They depend on individual underlying diseases or another medical history. A sudden cold sweat without treatment can indicate a heart attack, although other typical symptoms are added. These complications are accompanied by a feeling of tightness, severe pain in the upper abdomen and chest area, nausea, severe burning and shortness of breath. The listed symptoms last at least five minutes.

Also, without treatment, uncontrolled muscle twitchingtachycardia, balance and vision disorders can occur.

In addition, anxiety sweat usually leads to a pale facial skin, which can also attract the attention of third parties. The affected person is dependent on assistance measures in case of serious complications.

In the treatment, cold, moist skin plays only a secondary role. Triggers are often stressful situations. In most cases, this condition does not last long. Therefore, treatment is not always necessary. Even in combination with a short shock reaction, it is possible that the cold sweat disappears quickly.

When to go to the doctor?

The person concerned should then consult a doctor if the cold sweat also affects the well-being. If a sudden cold sweat occurs, in most cases it is an indication of a health impairment. Children need special attention in this context. Without a medical examination, it is often not possible to clarify clearly whether the symptoms are due to an illness or psychological shock. Early detection has a greater chance of recovery in children.

If an adult has diseases that are already known, the outbreak of cold sweat is to be regarded as an alarm signal. The person concerned should consult a doctor immediately. This applies to heart disease, possible internal bleeding, or pulmonary edema.


If cold sweat breaks out all over the body or on isolated parts of the body, it can regress quickly or slowly. In both cases, the perspirant can assume that there is a cause for the sweating. If diseases are not known, a spontaneous diagnosis without medical clarification can be made with difficulty. A collapse can lead to a physical collapse. Here the cause is clear. Even in a heart attack, the cold sweat shows up because the body is subject to a state of shock. This usually lasts longer.

In connection with other accompanying symptoms, the affected person often pays little attention to the cold sweat. Cold, moist skin provides a noticeable indication of a possible disease. Knowledge of the cold sweating on individual parts of the body can help the layman with an initial assessment.

Cold sweats are not always the cause of certain diseases. Often the diagnosis can be made quickly. In the context of a known situation that triggers anxiety or stress, the cold sweat is often also anxiety sweat. In addition to the physical component, the psychological component therefore plays a role in this case. In these situations, the affected person is usually aware of the reason for the physical reaction and knows how to evaluate it correctly.

Treatment & Therapy

Proper treatment and therapy depends on the cause. A circulatory collapse may require if a state of shock occurs. The patient is artificially ventilated and receives the appropriate infusions and injections. The paramedics connect the patient to an to monitor heart function. It does not always have to come to an emergency medical intervention. If the patient drinks a glass of water during a circulatory collapse and gets up again, the cold sweat quickly regresses. In the case of a heart attack, the focus of treatment is on the opening of the closed vessel.

However, the cold sweat can also indicate an existing hypoglycaemia. If this disease is present, immediate treatment is necessary. Even mild hypoglycemia should not be underestimated by the affected person. With the emerging visual and consciousness disorders, the risk of falls increases in this combination. The patient in this state is dependent on taking glucose. As a rule, a glass of fruit juice or the intake of glucose helps.

Outlook & Forecast

If the patient suffers from a disease that is already known to the doctor, the course of health for the future can be better determined. In this context, sweating can also be prevented.

In most cases where the cause is an existing disease, a positive prognosis depends on regular use of medication. This happens as part of medical therapy. Occasional fluctuations can occur during the treatment, and with it again outbreaks of cold sweats. In this case, the patient is required to report any changes to the doctor. Any drug treatment can be adjusted.

Depending on the disease, the prognosis can be good or bad. If the doctor has identified the cause of cold sweats and other associated symptoms early on, he will take immediate measures to improve the symptoms. In this way, the prospects for the course of the disease can be steered in a positive direction at an early stage. The longer the cause remains unexplained, the more likely it is that the prospects of a complete cure will be poorer.


To prevent cold sweats associated with a specific medical condition, simply taking the prescribed medication regularly can stop it from getting worse. If hyperglycemia is present, several small meals prevent hypoglycaemia from reoccurring.

Breaking out in a cold sweat is not always related to an illness. Everyday circumstances can be triggers for this. If stressful situations are mainly responsible for cold, damp skin, the person concerned should think about making changes in certain areas of their life.

In the event of sudden accidents, preventive measures cannot be taken. The state of shock occurs immediately here. The body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and norepinephrine, which cause anxiety sweat. In the event of serious accidents, only a doctor can help.

What you can do yourself

Either the eccrine glands make the whole body sweat or only a certain area of the body. The sensation remains the same: the sweat feels cold. Stress is often considered a trigger for cold, damp skin. If the affected person releases more cold sweat in everyday life, this is an alarm signal. In medicine, this reaction is considered the body’s defense mechanism. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid stressful situations in everyday life or to reduce them step by step. In this way, the person under pressure achieves an increase in his quality of life.

Also, a change of diet may be necessary. A healthy diet also prevents diseases from the outset. This also includes sufficient fluid intake. This is important in older people who are prone to circulatory problems in summer.

If there is no illness and no drug treatment, a regular visit to the family doctor should not be missed. Women, who are often subject to hormonal fluctuations, should not miss a check-up. This applies both to the visit to the family doctor and to the visit to the gynecologist. Because hormonal disorders can also cause This applies both to visits to the .

The health check-up at the doctor helps to detect any illnesses or health impairments at an early stage. They can be physical or psychological in nature. An anamnesis with a doctor helps to find the cause of any abnormalities.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.