Be cool! How can I stop being so heat-sensitive, and stop sweating so much?
September 6, 2005 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Be cool! How can I stop being so heat-sensitive, and stop sweating so much?

I'm a ~6'2" 240lb male in my early thirties, and I always feel uncomfortable in even slightly warm weather. I always have.

I know I'm over weight, but I don't think massively so for my build, and I had the same problems when I was younger and more fit and svelt - I think it's just the way I'm wired. Along with the discomfort, this also leads to lots of sweating.

Do others suffer from this kind of sensitivity? How can I better control my body temperature?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I do. Damned if I know.

I've tried drysol and the like and they have some positive impact but it's hard on the skin and a pain to apply regularly. Mostly I just 'work around it.' I avoid colors that show obvious persperation stains. I moved from Miami to the DC area (I like cold weather anyway so no big sacrifice there). I wear lightweight fabrics and pack multiple shirts for each day if I'm traveling. Undershirts (the 'wife-beater' tank variety) help greatly for hiding how soaking I really am.

Sorry I don't have more uplifting and positive answers for you.
posted by phearlez at 3:47 PM on September 6, 2005

Your diet can greatly affect how you handle heat/are wired. If you are interested in specifics, drop me a line. Email in profile.
posted by Specklet at 4:09 PM on September 6, 2005

I have this issue, too, always have. I sweat like a pig and am constantly BURNING up unless it's really cold. I hate it, but I've given up stressing about it - after 35 years it was too tiring! I have no clue why I'm like this although I am overweight I don't think it's that as even when I'm thinner I'm like this. I take corticosteriods for an adrenal gland condition, which might affect me but my mom has the same issue so maybe not....

I moved to Seattle from Massachusetts to escape the heat! It worked. :) None of those deadorants has ever made one iota of difference for me, sadly.
posted by tristeza at 4:18 PM on September 6, 2005

I too am overly sensitive to elevated temperatures, although I'm underweight and Asian. It really sucks when my workplace is populated by older females who are more comfortable in 25-28oC temperatures while I'm more 12-17oC. You'd think that it's easier to wear more clothes as opposed to less...

I don't have a direct answer for you, but I run into and sit around the coldroom to shed a few BTU, although I'm guessing that you don't have this avenue of escape. Washing my face, wetting the back of my neck with cold running water can help. I try to avoid wearing darker or constricting garments when it's sunny out. I wish that I had a really good answer for you =(
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:37 PM on September 6, 2005

I find that the more varying temperatures I'm exposed to, the better I tolerate smaller differences from my preferred temp. If I spend more time in the cold, I acclimate (a bit), and same with heat. In Maine, this is enforced by the weather, which varies plenty.

PurplePorpoise, I run cold and I'll gladly put on more clothes in the winter, if people will just not set the AC so cold in summer.
posted by theora55 at 5:38 PM on September 6, 2005

I've never been overweight and I get this - my palms have always sweat, too. And I live in dry California, ugh.

I have always bought a different brand of deodorants that are effective for me each tube I buy and that's helped noticeably. It's like my pits get used to them. I simply cannot wear undershirts EVER. I sweat too much with them on and they just seem to make the sweating worse.

I mostly wear cotton shirts too, but that's probably obvious. Socks are important too as they say most of you body heat escapes through your feet/head - no hats and keep that hair short, hehe. Most socks I find have too much non-cotton in them, i.e. hot nylon for support. If you look hard enough you can find good socks w/out all the man-made materials in them. Sneakers w/a lot of ventilation are hard to find, too.

Just my $.02
posted by prodevel at 6:01 PM on September 6, 2005

Yeah, so, the search feature in ask.mefi is really nice.

Just to show that this isn't purely a rebuke see my comments in the second link.
posted by oddman at 6:49 PM on September 6, 2005

I've found that when I live in areas with a lot of air conditioning, I'm more sensitive to heat. There's something about just surrendering to the outside temperature, rather than trying to fight it, that can make it feel less like a burden.

On the other hand, I love hot weather and hate winter, and can never ever ever get warm enough when it's cold outside, so YMMV.
posted by occhiblu at 7:11 PM on September 6, 2005

Well, oddman, the submitter was primarily interested in How can I stop being so heat-sensitive whereas the other threads were primarily regarding how to decrease perspiration...

Besides, there *are* new members joining metafilter as well as other people who have missed previous threads who may have something new to contribute.

I can see how repeat posts on the same subject might be annoying in the blue, but there *is* a quota for ask.metafilter questions, so I don't quite understand the call-out.

posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:35 PM on September 6, 2005

Specklet, can you post a little something here? Or, do you mind if I email you too - but something here would be best, as it would be good for many [all?] of us with this issue reading the thread.
posted by fionab at 7:58 PM on September 6, 2005

Yes, Specklet, post it here. I live in a tropical country, but I wilt in the heat. I am very much a cold weather person.
posted by madman at 11:33 PM on September 6, 2005

Thirding the Specklet request. I'm 6"2 and 175 pounds (definitely not overweight - I'm a runner!) and I get this same thing.
posted by joshuaconner at 12:32 AM on September 7, 2005

I'm affected by this as well. I've switched from wearing t-shirts to loose collared shirts, which have helped a lot when outdoors in the summer. I've also noticed that I start sweating when I'm digesting food, so I've learned to eat lightly during dates or meetings.

What's strange is that I sweat worst of all when I'm indoors doing some kind of menial task... like hooking up a TV or putting some furniture together. I could be sitting in my underwear in a well air-conditioned room, and I get drenched. I wonder if it's some kind of psychosomatic thing.
posted by patgas at 5:57 AM on September 7, 2005

Purpleporpoise, let's take this to metatalk.
posted by oddman at 6:31 AM on September 7, 2005

Specklet? Please post what you have here. I'm interested as well.

My answer? I just live with it. I bust a sweat tying my shoes in an air conditioned room.

However, I now live in Phoenix with 100+ degree temps for a majority of the year, so people don't even really notice here. Everyone sweats. Everyone wears shorts and sandals. And it's really dry so you dry out quickly.

In fact, I notice I sweat less, because it just dries so fast, and having a healthy, active cooling system is an asset here.
posted by loquacious at 6:41 AM on September 7, 2005

My last girlfriend broke up with me because of my sweating problem, and since then, I was determined to find a good remedy for the problem.

Yes, you'll get a lot of "conventional wisdom" from people regarding diet, exercise, mental relaxation exercises and other hoohaw, and they are all possibly valid ideas (and certainly can't hurt you), but if you're anything like me, there are times when you need to stop sweating NOW, lest you suffer social embarrassment (i.e. parties, dates, job interviews, etc). Diet and exercise are long term solutions, but are completely worthless in the short term.

What has become an absolute godsend for me are glycopyrrolate based treatments. They come either as topical "wipes" that you apply to your skin (like the acne pads you used as a teenager), or you can take it in an oral, capsule form. I swear to god, these products have literally changed my life. Where before I would break out into a profuse sweat even in an air-conditioned room, I can now walk around outside in the hot sun for hours, only producing a "normal" level of perspiration (i.e., no giant sweat marks on my shirt, just a glistening moisture on my forehead).

I use the topical pads (marketed by as "Secure wipes") in conjunction with the oral capsules (sold as "Avert") You can get them via (for some stupid reason, you can't get these products without a prescription in the US, but will ship to the US without any problems). Using the topical in conjunction with the oral treatment is necessary if you sweat all over your body, and not just your face and neck, as it's not practical to use the Secure Wipes on other parts of your body.

These products are hideously expensive, but to me, they're totally worth the cost, as I no longer have to worry about social stigma and rejection that comes from being a "sweater". I've been using these products for the past 3 years, and have had no negative side-effects whatsoever. Just don't use it when you're exercising or overly exerting yourself, because it *significantly* impedes the secretion of perspiration from your body. Heat stroke is not a fun thing.

I hate to sound like a stupid infomercial testimonial shill, but this stuff really does work, and as I already mentioned, it has totally changed my life. Of course, you should consult with your doctor first before taking this stuff.
posted by melorama at 7:00 AM on September 7, 2005 [3 favorites]

Me, too, Specklet, love!

I'm very sensitive to the heat, and though I haven't really been totally this way all my life, I definitely have been for at least 15 years.

I try to be like the willow... I don't have such a problem with perspiration that it affects my social or personal life as melorama describes, so I don't use anything special or overdo antiperspirant (because I think that while it may retard perspiration where applied, you just end up sweating more from other areas), and I only use the a.c. when it's completely, utterly unbearable. I do, though, have fans in every room, and I drink lots of water and wear loose cotton clothing. Lots of showers and wet washcloths on the face and neck. I make sure to choose places to live that have good cross ventilation.

That's all I know, and I'm almost completely miserable for nearly two months out of the year.

Also... I would say that it might be wise to see your doctor before trying a product such as melorama is using; I once had the bad luck to become quite ill during an intense heat wave (and at that time, didn't have a.c.), and really thought I might die. I was alone and half crazy from fever, but I couldn't sweat, and it was probably the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced. I got into the bathtub and kept drenching myself with cold (ha! it was probably little less than body temp.) water, which was absolutely agonizing since it felt like my skin was on fire... but eventually my temperature came down. I've truly never worried about sweating since then - I only start to worry if it seems like I'm not sweating enough!
posted by taz at 7:17 AM on September 7, 2005

taz makes many valid points. Things like the glyopyrrolate treatments I mentioned are probably overkill for people who *don't* sweat like pigs (iow, to the point where beads of sweat roll down your face and drip onto your work papers or computer keyboard...even in a "normal" climate). The good thing about glyopyrrolate is that it is a very temporary solution. At the first onset of any percieved side-effect, you just cease using it, and within 12-36 hours, you'll be back to sweating like a pig again :)

The worst side effect I have is that my eyes become slightly more sensitive to sunlight, but thats about it.

I've spent a lot of time reading hyperhydrosis support forums, and I have yet to read about someone who has been harmed by using these treatments. I think that's why you can buy the stuff in Canada without a prescription. From what I understand, the only reason why you can't get it in the US without a prescription is because the FDA hasn't bothered to even consider approving its usage as an anti-perspirant.
posted by melorama at 7:36 AM on September 7, 2005

Well, if it kills em it probably cuts down on their postings :) 'Cept for L Ron H, of course.

Anticholinergics for sweating aren't new; I came across writings about it in the mid-90s when I was looking for a more lasting solution. I tried one variety with no assist, though it was when I was living in Miami. The big worry is constipation/squirts related and there CAN be long term effects if your system acclimates.

That said, I'm going to go order some of what you just suggested from and give it a try. But caution is definately indicated.
posted by phearlez at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2005

Wow, okay guys!

Give me a little time to get some stuff together.
posted by Specklet at 9:51 AM on September 7, 2005

I just wanted to point out that, if you have health insurance with prescription coverage, and can get your doctor to prescribe glyopyrrolate for you, it will probably cost a lot less than it will if you order it from

Since checking with your doctor ahead of time is a good idea, anyway, it couldn't hurt to see what the price differential would be.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:29 AM on September 7, 2005

Okay, first of all, you all need to know that I’m an earthy-crunchy chick. I’m into treating illness with diet, herbs, meditation, acupuncture, exercise etc. before I try traditional Western medicine. What I know about diet is primarily based in Ayurveda, the ancient health care system of India. (I am not, however, a doctor or an Ayurvedic practitioner.) If you’re not really interested an explanation of why I’m choosing the specific foods I am, feel free to skip down to the bottom and look at the dietary suggestions.

According to Ayurveda, there are three body types, or doshas: pitta, kapha, and vata. I won’t go into detail about each type and how you know which one (or which combination of types) you are, so you’re going to have to take my word for it when I say that sensitivity to heat and excessive sweating are due to a pitta imbalance.

The pitta dosha is responsible for maintenance of body heat and metabolism; it governs the digestion or proper assimilation of physical, mental and emotional elements of your body. Signs of excess pitta include heartburn, excessive body heat and sweating, skin rashes, acne, excess stomach acidity, peptic ulcers, irritability and anger. In short, pitta increases body heat. Incidentally, a pitta imbalance is pretty common, as a stressful lifestyle tends to aggravate the symptoms.

So. What you want to do is cool down your system, and I’m not just talking about AC and cool showers. I’m not just talking about your diet, either. I’ll say a bit about lifestyle here, since I think that if y’all are really going to change the way your body is functioning, it’s going to take a holistic approach.

Like you’d think, a hot and humid climate aggravates the pitta dosha, so if you’re thinking of moving, think someplace cool.

Smoking is not good. Caffeine is not good.

Mental stress aggravates pitta. Overworking, frequency deadlines and long commutes, you get the idea. Take some time for yourself, get your schedule together.

Swimming is good. Sleeping with open windows is good. Outdoor activities are good, but avoid stay out of the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day. Night walks are good.

This is a big one: meditation is good. I actually previously wrote up some easy guidelines at a MeFi asker’s request, so please email me if you’d like a copy.

Okay, enough.


So, cold drinks are yummy and soothing, but they’re not always such a good idea. Try cool to room temperature, instead of iced. Even better: try some tea that has specifically cooling herbs and spices.

Lots of foods have excellent cooling properties; the main principle is that you should favor foods that taste predominantly sweet, bitter and astringent. As in: complex carbohydrates, milk, and some fruits are sweet; some green, leafy vegetables are bitter; beans and some green vegetables are astringent.

Minimize your intake of hot and spicy foods, and foods with salty or sour tastes, such as yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk or sour oranges, grapefruit or pineapple. Avoid your intake of vegetables with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, beets, onions, garlic and spinach.

More specifics:

Grains: white basmati rice, barley, corn, couscous, oat bran, oats, wheat, wheat bran. Avoid brown rice, corn, rye and buckwheat.

Vegetables: raw or steamed, but not fried. Bitter leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, mushrooms in small amount, okra, onions (cooked in ghee), peas, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, sprouts, squash, green beans, zucchini.

Legumes: aduki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chick peas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, most other beans. Eat ‘em with cumin or other spices to minimize upsetting the digestion. Peas and soy products can be eaten once or twice a week. Avoid peanuts and lentils.

Spices: use cooling spices like cardamom, coriander seed, cilantro leaves, fennel, fresh basil, dill, turmeric, small amounts of cumin and fresh ginger.

Fruits: think apples, apricots, avocado, berries, coconuts, dates, figs, grapes, melons, oranges, plums, pomegranates. Avoid grapefruit, lemons, limes, bananas, cherries, peaches, strawberries, papaya.

Dairy: most fresh dairy is good, like fresh ghee and whole milk (cooked). Avoid salted cheeses, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream.

Meats: a vegetarian diet really is best in this case, but these are the least aggravating: chicken (white meat), turkey (white meat). Bake or broil.

Nuts: in moderation. Most are too oily and heating, but sunflower and almonds can be good in moderation.

Oils: ghee, sunflower, olive, canola, small amounts of sesame. Butter’s not so good.

Sugars: (fruit, maple and raw) and honey. Avoid refined white sugar and molasses.

Drinks: black tea, green tea and herb teas are helpful. Avoid spicy teas. Milk and other dairy products are okay, as well as fruit and vegetable juices. I like lemonade with a little fresh ginger and a pinch of cumin. (I know the cumin sounds weird, but try it.) Alcoholic beverages really bad. Sorry. So’s coffee. Sorry.

Any questions?
posted by Specklet at 11:41 AM on September 7, 2005 [6 favorites]

Thank you Specklet - that's surprisingly (or not so much) similar to the Chinese idea that certain foods promote "hot" and others promote "cool" and a lot of the foodstuffs overlap.

Alas, I'm unable/unwilling to forego hard liquor, smoking, and severe personal stress...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:06 PM on September 7, 2005

"Alas, I'm unable/unwilling to forego hard liquor, smoking, and severe personal stress..."

Which means you are unable/unwilling to forego all the side effects.

I'm a smoker/whiskey drinker too, so I understand.
posted by spaghetti at 6:07 PM on September 7, 2005

I hope I'm not too late to contribute, but I highly recommend using MAXIM antipersperant, can be bought at

I've always sweated a lot, especially under my arms which looks gross, this product totally changed everything. For the first time since I was 14 years old I didn't have big ugly wet patches under my arms. You actually apply this product over night and wash it off the next day (then apply your regular spray). The results are instant. I couldn't believe it the day after I used it for the first time. Buy it now!!

As far as staying cool, drinking A LOT OF very cold water (i.e. near freezing) helps, if you have the facilities to store it. Think about it - soon after you drink something it goes into your blood stream and pumps around, cooling you down, and if you're constantly drinking it then you'll stay a lot cooler.

I also avoid shirts that aren't 100% cotton. Full cotton shirts feel nicer anyway. I remember at work one day it was "casual Friday" and I wore a shirt with a lot of polyester in it. I was running late so had to do a bit of running, and this was in the middle of the summer when it was 35 degrees celcius out. Got to the office and COULD NOT cool down at all. I ended up having to go across the road to a clothes shop and bought a cotton shirt (and ditched the polyester).
posted by Jase_B at 4:32 AM on September 8, 2005

thanks Specklet, that was awesome
posted by matteo at 6:36 AM on September 8, 2005

I very much disagree with Jase_B about the near-freezing beverages.

Drinking cold things will actually make you warmer. When something cold hits your stomach, your internal temperature goes down, yes. But then your body heats up to restore normal temp, and you actually end up feeling warmer.

In addition, the shock of the cold water has a detrimental effect on your body, it's very stressful for it to have a sudden shock of internal cold. Also, your colon will freak out: it thinks you're in shock and stops working, for as much as four hours. Eeesh.

I speak from experience (hot season in India), if you drink a hot cup of tea on a hot day, you'll sweat (which is why I didn't mention this in my post), but you'll feel cooler after you finish the tea.

Drink room temperature water, or slightly cool. No ice.
posted by Specklet at 11:04 AM on September 8, 2005

No disrespect to Specklet (and I do realize that your point is that diet isn't EVERYTHING), but I've been a vegetarian for 16 years and I sweat like a PIG.

I'm 6', 180 lbs. I go to the gym 3 times a week and I'm the sweatiest guy there. I don't smoke, but I drink socially.

When I was in college, I would ride my bike to class, get to my desk in the air-conditioned classroom, and have a downpour from my head for most of the class.

Menial tasks? Happens to me too. The most I can do without sweating my butt off is the dishes.

I also suffer from the "after lunch" spell where digestion seems to be heating me up. Taking off my shoes under my desk seems to help.

I can remember standing up in a wedding one summer and being in front of a church full of people, perspiring like a soda can on a commercial. The groomsman behind me made a comment, wondering if I was all right.

As for the comments about living in varied temperatures... I live in Chicago. I couldn't be MORE exposed to all sorts of whacky extremes.

Thank you soooo much melorama for the Rx recommendation. I checked them out on Pharmacy not only do the pills come in different dosages, but they also have trial-sized packs. I'm going to try them.

Oh, and I feel your pain on the relationship front, melorama. I've never been dumped over the issue, but I've had plenty of complaints about my sweating. It's embarrassing.
posted by Gunderstorm at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

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