Just call me Betty, Sweaty Betty
June 30, 2016 7:38 AM   Subscribe

I've always been an extraordinarily sweaty person. I mean, not ALL the time, but definitely more so than the average person. Why is this?

Why do some people sweat more than others? Why do I sweat so much? It's not a Problem in my life per se, but it definitely impacts me.

Examples: I'll walk around outside for 5-10 minutes and feel fine. All of a sudden I'll start to feel sweaty, then beads of sweat form on my forehead and I literally won't stop sweating for about 20 minutes. I will be wiping away actual drips.

I can be standing around in a warm room not doing anything much, and I'll start to feel incredibly clammy and then sweaty. I was recently a Bridesmaid for a friend and this happened while she was getting ready. I had to go and stand under the AC unit for relief. None of the other 7 people in the room seemed remotely bothered by the room temperature.

I was sitting down having lunch yesterday and I was wearing a dress and all of a sudden, my butt and legs are seriously wet with sweat. I stood up and had left a sweaty bum imprint. This happens to me practically every day at lunch. Again, I always have lunch with friends and I appear to be the only person to leave behind bumprints on seats.

I sweat a LOT during exercise. I mean, so much. I usually work out by myself so I never really gave it too much thought, but I recently went for a run with a friend of about equal fitness and afterwards she was like "HOLY COOOOW you're sweaty!!" so yeah, #sweatmonster is back.

Like I said, it's not necessarily a PROBLEM for me, there's no issues with smell or anything like that, I just hate always being the "hottest girl" in the room (hahaha) and I hate that awful feeling when I feel the sweat fest coming on and there's literally nothing I can do to stop it.

I'm already dreading menopause because I'm basically having hot flashes now and I'm 34.

So I wonder - WHY am I so dang sweaty? Do I have overactive sweat glands? is that even a thing? Secondly, is there anything I can do to combat the sweat? Please don't recommend any antiperspirants, it's more the issue with my face sweating, forehead especially, and I don't want to spray my face with Sure every time I leave the house!
posted by JenThePro to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Do you drink a lot of alcohol? Many people I know who did, and then stopped, say that this stopped their excessive sweating.
posted by thelonius at 7:43 AM on June 30, 2016

I saw this article recently - Blame your childhood for how sweaty you are

They recommend drinking cold water to bring your internal body temperature down. I haven't tested any of this, though!
posted by needlegrrl at 7:48 AM on June 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

I would say I drink a normal amount of alcohol for a girl my age...

But this sweating problem has always been the case for me, I remember being conscious about it from a very young age, so I don't think it's alcohol related.
posted by JenThePro at 7:49 AM on June 30, 2016

I read an article recently that said that people who are born in hot climates grow up to be sweatier than people born in colder climates. The theory is that we are covered in sweat glands but they don't all activate unless they are needed. According to this article, you sweat now because you were a sweaty baby. Your mother probably swaddled you and put you to sleep in a warm room. It's all her fault.

I was a sweaty baby too.
posted by myselfasme at 7:50 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've been a female heavy sweater since puberty. One medication I took for a while made it worse, although it's not a listed side effect, so that's something to consider. I avoid antiperspirant because otherwise I ruin clothes (I sweat either way). I avoid man-made fibers--they seem to increase both sweat and stink. In general, I worry more about potential stink than sweat per se because sweat is going to sweat.

On preview, I have noticed that drinking heavily makes it worse--if I'm hungover, I'm extra sweaty. Also, I spent the first 8 years of my life in the desert and the rest of my life in the swamp that is the Mid-Atlantic, so +1 for the childhood theory.
posted by mchorn at 7:53 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also! This question has some promising-seeming remedies.
posted by mchorn at 7:55 AM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm going to an outdoor family wedding this Sunday and my aunts and I are already joking about how many cool towels we'll need around to cool us down during four hours in the moderate heat of July in Ohio. When we were shopping for clothes to wear, words like "sweat-wicking" and "moisture-absorbing" were used so frequently that a sales associate thought we were prepping for a marathon instead of a sit-down wedding.

I drink alcohol rarely but I do drink a lot of things that dehydrate - tea and soda being primary to this. I find that if I know I'm going to attend an event where the Sweatening may happen, I avoid these drinks and try to prep by drinking more than my usual amount of daily water for a day or two beforehand.
posted by Merinda at 8:16 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am a head-sweater, which makes exercising SO MUCH FUN. I'll leave a yoga class looking like I got stuck in the rain while other women have their hair still perfectly styled.

I have taken to carrying around a folding fan and a bandana (to wipe my brow) in my purse at all times. I used to live on the humid Gulf Coast, now I live in a country where AC is not prevelant. SWEATY BETTIES FOR LYFE.
posted by Brittanie at 8:19 AM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I am also often the sweatiest person in the room, when others seem to be quite comfortable. This runs in my family; my brother and my father are also prone to sweating. We have hyperhydrosis.

My symptoms started when I was very young, and have gotten a bit worse since I've gotten older and put on a little more weight. I am a medical professional so this is extra fun in the clinical setting. Everyone thinks I'm nervous. I'm just sweaty, thanks. The excess sweating occurs on my face, my scalp, my hands, my body... almost everywhere. Fun.

I take glycopyrrolate prescribed by my GP to reduce my symptoms. This medication has side effects; I have experienced dry mouth and vision problems while taking it. It also sometimes reduces my sweating so much that I get uncomfortably hot but do not sweat. I also apply antiperspirant directly to my face and my butt and my hands. I don't buy specific preparations of antiperspirant; some of them really irritate my skin. I just use regular underarm stuff, right on my face. Seems to help, especially if I do it every day.

Good luck. Sometimes this keeps me from doing the things I want to do because its embarrassing. As I've gotten older, I've started giving fewer fucks, but it really does suck to be the only sweaty person in a room.
posted by sockeye puppet at 8:23 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

FWIW, and maybe not a thing you want to try, but I am a sweaty lady from a long line of sweaty people, and I found that it lessened tremendously (though it did not go away entirely) when I was on Zoloft.

Nowadays I use this stuff on my face for other reasons, but I do find that it keeps the full-on face sweats at bay somewhat. Don't use it if your skin is dry or flaky apart from the sweating, though! Oily skin only.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:25 AM on June 30, 2016

To provide an opposite data point to We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese, Zoloft has made my sweating much worse (and that seems to be a well-documented side effect). While I'm still trying to find a good answer for mine - I'm a head and face sweater - my spouse, who is an armpit sweater, got a prescription deodorant from a dermatologist, and it made a -huge- difference for her.
posted by jferg at 8:43 AM on June 30, 2016

I'll be on a warm train, look at the scores of people around me, and be the only one who is visibly moist. So let me be the first to give you an uncomfortably damp hug in support.

Certain-Dri on the forehead is the only thing OTC I've found that helps at all for face and head sweatiness.
posted by zippy at 9:02 AM on June 30, 2016

Another data point. I tend to feel the heat before anyone else and I hardly sweat at all. I start to get sick from the heat before other people even feel uncomfortable, and by they time they start to get shiny looking I am getting woozy, and around the time they are soggy with crescents of sweat marks showing through their clothing, my armpits are dampening up and I have a resounding heat headache.

I have slowly been developing the ability to sweat at a rate closer to normal as I age. I was thirty before I remember ever really getting damp from sweating. I deal with the problems it presents by soaking my head (I have long hair so it stays damp twenty minutes or so in the summer) wearing a wet sun hat and wearing a wet t-shirt.

I can't take sudden changes in temperature. Jumping into cold water in the summer makes me stop breathing. It just sticks. Swimming however is one of the only strenuous exercises I can do, because I don't overheat quickly like I do above ground. My idea of hell would be a tropical vacation.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:31 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a data point, this may yet positively change. I was INCREDIBLY sweaty from puberty to my mid 20s, and now in my later 20s it's... Subsiding? I can wear light jackets when it's 65 degrees out without being dripping wet! I don't pit out my shirts in 15 minutes!

Other people in my family had similar things to say about being between my age and your age. Menopause or a year or two may help.

I mean it might not, my dad is still super duper sweaty and so is my mom(WHY DID YOU EVIL PEOPLE HAVE CHILDREN) but there's a chance?

I super duper feel it though, as someone who would have to windex down the entire damn weight bench and change clothes immediately after school/work every damn day because they'd be soaked.
posted by emptythought at 9:42 AM on June 30, 2016

Maybe you're just very efficient? (I'm a huge sweater, I choose this explanation.)

Hyperthyroidism could be another reason.

For workouts, I situate myself next to a fan, drink lots of water, and wear a bandana to wipe sweat off my face/keep hair up. But if it helps, no one at a gym cares about your sweat - if they do, they need not to. (If you're leaving pools of sweat on/around equipment, just wipe it off.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:50 AM on June 30, 2016

Fwiw, I get sweatier faster and lot more when I weigh more. If I've gained ten pounds, I'll get super sweaty all over my face from a 20 minute moderate walk--a walk that wouldn't have caused me to break a sweat before. It doesn't seem to matter how fit I am, just the weight itself. (And this is all within the "normal" range of weight for someone of my height.)

Another thought: there have been periods of time in my life where my anxiety manifests in extra sweating. It's not like every time I get really anxious I get all sweaty, it's just like my body has decided "This year anxiety will result in so much sweat! Let's go!"
posted by purple_bird at 10:31 AM on June 30, 2016

You can sweat a lot for a huge variety of reasons:

- you might be more hydrated than the people around you. Dehydrated people don't sweat much.
- people who work out will sweat quicker because their body is quick to think "workout time!" while people who do not workout have a lag where their body is all like "WTF is going on?"
- anxiety. And then anxiety anxiety. And so on. A figurative waterfall begets a literal waterfall.
- you might be more active - I walk faster and further than other people, thus I sweat more.
- body fat - it's insulation. If you are wearing 10lbs of extra flesh then you have a complete winter wardrobe's worth of insulation - great in sub zero temps (oh how I miss my lost 50lbs in the Chicago winters) - not so great other times.
-closed body posture - limbs against limbs, fists, knees together, arms crossed - all these things will increase your body temp by decreasing your effective heat dissipation surface area.

I find that the biggest thing I can do to control sweat is to slow down, relax, find a breeze/fan, get out of the sun and wear technical fabrics like uniqlo airism underneath other clothing. It feels like your sweat issues are localized at the sympton level but they really are not at the cause level -it is you overall body temperature that is the issue. Open your posture up, unclench your fists, man spread as much as you can get away with. Even something small like holding a glass of ice water in your hand can help.
posted by srboisvert at 11:46 AM on June 30, 2016

I sweat lots and so does my mother and my daughter, so I feel like there's some kind of genetic component there. If it helps it does seem to be correlated with skin that ages well...
posted by Sebmojo at 6:01 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I came here to find answers as I am an extremely sweaty person, even at mild walking pace. I'm of normal weight and I run a lot so it's not weight and inactivity. The article linked by needlegrrl was great -- I grew up in a hot equatorial environment so would explain a lot!
posted by moiraine at 1:09 AM on July 1, 2016

I grew up in Finland and am a heavy sweater, so...
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:08 AM on July 1, 2016

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