A first date, a job interview, a big event or presentation – our bodies react physically when we’re experiencing strong emotions like stress. And when you’re trying to impress or appear calm and confident, a sweaty face, sweaty hands and sweat patches in your underarms can be a bit embarrassing.
What causes stress sweat?
We have two types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine. When we get stressed, the larger apocrine glands – mainly in the armpits and groin – produce sweat.
Stressful situations also cause our heart rate to increase, and encourage hormones and adrenaline to flood the body, causing additional sweat from our eccrine glands.
Does stress sweat smell?
Apocrine sweat has more nutrients than eccrine sweat, which is mainly just salt and water. Nutrients make apocrine sweat more attractive to the body odour-causing bacteria that naturally live on our skin and feed on our sweat. As a result, stress sweat sometimes smells worse.
Excessive stress sweat
Sweating excessively when you’re nervous can be embarrassing. Some people even avoid social or work situations because they’re worried they’ll be stressed, anxious or nervous and sweat too much. But there are things you can do:
- Avoid sweat triggers like spicy food, nicotine and alcohol. Caffeine also increases your adrenaline levels, making you more prone to sweat.
- Wear clothes that let your skin breathe – natural fibres like cotton are best.
- Carry pocket tissues to dry your skin or to dry sweat patches.
- Stay hydrated. If you’re dehydrated, your body will sweat more to cool you down.
- Easier said than done, but find ways to stay calm. Many people cope with stress through deep breathing, listening to music or taking a walk. Find what works for you.