Sweaty Skin, Sticky Hands, Smelly Armpits & Feet: Causes & Approaches

Excessive sweating

How uncomfortable can it be when you get anxious and your hands start being sticky, or when it is just too hot and you sweat too much. Some people are more inclined to sweat than others, but why is that? What causes your skin to sweat more than others? Why do your palms get so sticky? Here are some explanations and some approaches on how to fight this discomfort.

Why Do We Sweat?

First and before all, let’s remind why we sweat. Indeed, Nature does things well and did not make us sweat for nothing. In fact, the sweat gland present in our body produce sweat in order to regulate our body temperature. In other words, sweating helps our body to cool down when our organism’s internal temperature gets too high.

Note that all human being is born with the same number of sweat gland, but these get mature only around 2 years old, although not all glands get active at that age as it depends on each individual’s needs. For instance, someone who has been living the 2 first years of its life in a hot climate will tend to have more active sweat glands, contrarily to someone who has been living the same years of its life in a colder climate.

Once we get older, we keep the same number of sweat glands but only a part of them are able to produce sweat, depending on each individual organism.

Why Does Sweat Smell?

It is commonly accepted that sweat smells, however this is actually not true. Sweat in itself is indeed odourless. On the other hand, the sweat produced by our apocrine glands – mainly present in our armpits and genital areas – is rich in fatty substance, which is the favourite nourishment of some bacteria such as Corynebacterium, themselves being mostly responsible for our sweat to be smelly.

What Causes Sticky Hands And Smelly Feet?

Another type of sweat glands are the eccrine sweat glands, which are mainly present in our hand palms, our forehead and our feet. In fact, these glands are linked to our sympathetic nervous system, which go off when we are stressed or anxious, triggering the production of sweat.

When sweat production gets excessive, we call it hyperhidrosis by its scientific name. When it is related to our hands, we speak then about palmar hyperhidrose. It can start with birth but usually starts showing during teenage years. Some people experience it all life long as some others see it disappear at some point in their life.


Why Do I Sweat More Than Other People?

There are several reasons why some people sweat more than others

Heredity, Gender & Age

Main reasons for excessive sweating include heredity, gender and age. Indeed, young and older people tend to sweat less. Also, women usually do not sweat as much as men as their body temperature is higher and their sweat gland produce less liquid. However, after menopause, they usually get hit by heat rushes and sweat a lot due to oestrogen production cessation.

Fatigue, Anxiety & Stress

As we said, sweat glands are connected to our sympathetic nervous system, which activates when we are stressed, anxious or too tired. This triggers the production of sweat. In other words, anxiety leads the body to mistakenly think it needs to lower the body temperature. It can also be increased by other psychological changes such as pregnancy, menopause or mental illnesses.

Notable Diseases Making Your Body Sweat Excessively


As an excessive sweating is usually due to common life experiences such as stress or ageing, it can sometime be a symptom of other serious diseases such as:

  • hyperthyroidism
  • diabetes
  • myocardial infarction (cardiac arrest)
  • pneumonia
  • acute allergic attack
  • lung embolus

What Can I Do To Sweat Less?

There are to main approaches for lowering your production of sweat.

Body Hygiene

First and before all, you need to have a perfect body hygiene :

  • drink a lot, at least 2L a day is you sweat excessively,
  • shower every day, using soft soap,
  • wash your hands as often as possible -use soap only when needed, otherwise it can dry up your palms skin-,
  • always carry tissues and hand cleaner in your handbag.

Regarding palmar and foot hyperhidrose, remember to chose appropriate shoes and gloves that let your skin breathe properly. You can also use talc, which helps to absorb sweat and to re-establish adhesion.

Mental Hygiene

The other remedy to reduce your sweat production is to reduce your stress level:

  • sleep well and enough,
  • take your time, especially when you are in a hurry,
  • take time for yourself in order to relax with things you like to do,
  • also, do what you have to do, even if you don’t like it; do not procrastinate.


Note that regarding acute sweating problems, some treatments are available. Ask your doctor for more information.


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