why my feet wet?
December 8, 2008 2:21 PM   Subscribe

My feet sweat, when it's cold. For no reason. Also they are cold in bed.

My feet sweat when it's cold. I don't think they sweat when it's warm, at least not abnormally. But right now it's a cold night in Maine, I'm near the window, wearing smart wool socks, and my feet are uncomfortably moist. They've been that way all day. They are not wet, but moist enough that it makes them colder than they would be normally.

Not sure if this is relevant, but my feet are the coldest part of my body when I sleep. I can sleep naked comfortably in pretty cold weather, but I need socks on my feet, they get ice cold and I can't get to sleep.

Any thoughts? Is this some weird sort of glandular metabolic thing?
posted by sully75 to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you sure it's sweat, and not that they are so cold that moisture in the air is condensing on them?
posted by Pastabagel at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2008

Any thoughts?

Yes; my thought is that complete nakedness save for sock wearing is always really funny. Especially with men.

But here's a (potentially) more helpful thought: Are your feet really the only cold part? Or are your hands and nose cold too? If it's feet, hands and nose, then it sounds like you might have low blood pressure. My grandfather had it and was always cold, especially in his extremities and it made him really grouchy. Are you grouchy? That might be a side-symptom.
If it's just feet, then check out this article and snuggle up at night with a hot water bottle under/above/between your feet like the rest of us cold-footed north-easterners and stop sweating it (bah ha ha). My nephew is in perfect 3-year-old health but has cold, sweaty clodhoppers and we lovingly call them "bologna feet," because they feel like slick, cold lunch meat. I think it's probably very normal (at least in my family, apparently).
posted by RingerChopChop at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2008

Hands are not particularly cold. I like gloves but can survive without them. Nose is not cold.

Grumpy, yeah, probably, but I don't think because of the cold. I can seriously walk around buck naked in a 50 degree room and be fine. It's just my feet get cold.

Hadn't thought about the moisture in the air condensing on my feet. Is that possible?
posted by sully75 at 3:00 PM on December 8, 2008

Hmm... well, your feet are the part of your body which is furthest from your heart, so it makes sense that they would be the part to get the least circulation and hence, become cold first. As I mentioned, lots of people (myself included) have cold feet, and getting your heart rate up would be the fastest cure. For bedtime (when heart-rate elevation isn't really an option), I highly recommend the hot water bottle. It feels awesome.
It's also possible that the coldness of your feet is just a symptom of your sweatiness. The fastest way to make something cold is to make it wet, so perhaps that's what's going on there (maybe it has nothing to do with your heart or circulation). In that case your best defense would be moisture-wicking socks. Bonne chance!
posted by RingerChopChop at 3:22 PM on December 8, 2008

I only sweat when I'm cold, especially if I'm sitting still, like at a computer. I practically never sweat in the summertime (unless I'm in cold air conditioning). It's perverse. I think it has to do with a slight tensing of the muscles when cold, but have no scientific evidence to back that up. Anyway, I imagine you could put DriSol on your feet and that would help.
posted by HotToddy at 3:25 PM on December 8, 2008

Are you a smoker? I've heard that smoking can lead to poor circulation in the extremities.
posted by JimmyJames at 3:55 PM on December 8, 2008

Heavy socks can trap the moisture that your skin is giving off all the time.

If you don't want to turn up the heat you could wear a sleeveless vest to keep your core warm. I've heard from a reliable source that snipers wear heated vests to keep their extremities warm during long periods of inactivity in the cold.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:30 PM on December 8, 2008

ok just to be clear, I'm cool with the sleeping, but I'm trying to figure out the sweating thing. I can sleep just fine with a pair of socks on. But my clammy gross feet all day are clammy and gross.

thanks for all the advice though.
posted by sully75 at 5:35 PM on December 8, 2008

this used to happen me to all the time. seriously. i would put extra socks in my bookbag so i could change at some point in the day. and then i'd put on ANOTHER pair of socks when i got home. my feet would be ice blocks when i tried to sleep and i'd have to put on my thickest pair of socks - super duty hiking socks that i bought just for this reason - and then wrap up in some thick blanket until the "ice" melted. ugh.

i started going to the gym regularly - cardio 30-45 min 3 x or more a week, strength training at least twice. it stopped. it's been about two months now.

i am not kidding.

as i made the switch to being healthier all around (eating better, regular exercise and sleep, laying off the booze (i still drink just not every night and not to excess like i did while in college) ) - the foot sweaty/icy thing has gone away.

probably not what you wanted to hear, but it's all i got!
posted by sio42 at 6:04 PM on December 8, 2008

I have this same problem. I have it less with certain shoes than with others and I suspect it has something to do with

- the socks I'm wearing - smartwool is the best, but regular old wool seems to get soggy, cotton is good for the "sweating" but not as good for the warmth
- the shoes I'm wearing - if I'm going outside I try to wear insulated boots but if I wear shoes that are colder [like engineer boots or somethign with just the thin sole] I get it worse in the feet.
- what I do after they start sweating - if my feet have gotten that way when I'm out, I then get home, change socks and put on slippers or something that breathes better. I also try to stick my feet someplace where they will warm up BEFORE I go to bed. Sometimes this means taking a shower [watch out for little burst capillaries and itchy toes from chillblains if you do this wrong through] or sometimes it means sitting in bed with the mattress pad warmer on and my socks OFF to give my feet a chance to warm up

I'm in decent shape, have very low blood pressure and don't smoke. I've always assumed this was a blood pressure related thing and I'd get it in my fingers and nose except I TYPE so much and wear a hat to keep my head warm. I don't know good ways to solve the problem but I've managed to find a lot of good ways to at least treat the symptoms. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on December 8, 2008

My feet feel sweaty and cold if I wear just about anything except cotton socks, and feel that way especially if I'm wearing synthetic materials.

I decided that probably cotton absorbs sweat quickly enough that I don't notice it.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:55 PM on December 8, 2008

Search on "Cold-Induced Hyperhidrosis". I cannot find any non-medical, easy-to-read articles, unfortunately.
posted by loosemouth at 2:35 AM on December 9, 2008

Have your doc check your thyroid levels....not trying to be alarmis or anything, but I mentioned my ice cold feets to my doc and he checked...and my thyroid was messed up...no idea why he instantly thought thyroid when I said my feet were icy, but there ya go.
posted by legotech at 5:05 AM on December 9, 2008

I have much the same experience and I have a theory. My feet (and to a lesser extent my hands) sweat in inverse proportion to how much the rest of my body is sweating. I hypothesize that my body needs to get rid of -- for lack of a less alternative mediciny word -- toxins. Since the rest of you not sweating it has to sweat somewhere and for you the feet are the preferred outlet. This probably varies by person.
posted by jefftang at 8:36 AM on December 9, 2008

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