woman avoiding nervous sweating

Nervous Sweating

Everything you need to know about nervous sweating and how to prevent it.

What is nervous sweating and how can I stop it?

It is not unusual to break into a stress sweat when we’re nervous or excited - many of us have experienced nervous sweating at some point in our lives. 
Perhaps we’ve broken into a sweat before that job interview, giving an important presentation or on that first date. It's that feeling of sweaty palms and clammy feet, damp armpits and a glistening forehead - nervous sweat can really be a whole-body experience.
Nervous sweating can be uncomfortable and can have an impact on our lives. 
There are factors that can make nervous sweating worse, or make you more vulnerable to it, and below we explore how to stop nervous sweating, and stress sweating.
woman learning how to stop nervous sweating

Nervous Sweating

Stress and sweating: Why do we stress sweat?

The body usually sweats in order to cool down, which is why we sweat more when it is hot or we’re exercising. But nervous sweating is different. Many of us - some more than others - sweat when we’re nervous or excited. 
Why is this? When your brain gets the message that your body is overheating, it lets one set of sweat glands called the eccrine glands know. These glands are spread all over your body and they release sweat that is about 90% water. 
woman happy without stress sweat
But when something either excites or scares you, your body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These trigger a ‘flight or fight’ response in your body, setting your heart pounding and alerting not just the eccrine glands, but also the glands located in your armpits and crotch called the apocrine glands. That sweaty palm feeling is exactly what our ancestors would have felt when confronted with a hairy mammoth. In other words, it's a bit of evolutionary leftover. 

Excessive sweating (also called hyperhidrosis) can be exacerbated by certain factors, such as obesity, alcohol use, conditions including diabetes or an overactive thyroid gland, menopause, and certain medications.

Nervous Sweating

Some nervous sweating triggers:

  • Worry e.g. when you have a job interview, an upcoming exam or public speaking
  • Anticipation of a big or exciting event 
  • Embarrassment 
  • Medications - e.g. some diabetes drugs, antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Stimulants - e.g. excess caffeine or alcohol 
  • Fear of sweating itself

Nervous Sweating

Why does stress sweat smell differently?

Sweat that comes out of the apocrine glands is only 80% water and 20% fat and protein. Because sweat from the apocrine glands contains less water, it can smell stronger than the sweat we secrete through the errine glands. The smell is produced by bacteria that feed on and reproduce in the fat, moisture and protein.

Scientists don't yet understand why the body wants to send that strong smell signal when people are stressed.
woman avoiding stress sweat

Nervous Sweating

How to stop nervous sweating

As worrying exacerbates sweating, try not to be overly anxious about nervous sweating. Obviously, this is easier said than done and any tweaks to your lifestyle or trying to override your mind with stress-busting techniques will take time. One key weapon in your arsenal is a good antiperspirant. But besides an effective antiperspirant, there are efforts you can make to make yourself more comfortable, that will help to control nervous sweating and also give you some peace of mind. 
friends avoiding nervous sweating
Tips to prevent nervous sweating:
1)  Wear cotton, silk, and other natural fibres that allow your skin to breathe and pull moisture away from your body
How to stop nervous sweating
Tips to prevent nervous sweating:
2)  Use disposable underarm clothing shields to absorb sweat
exercise to help nervous sweating
Tips to prevent nervous sweating:
3)  Exercise to reduce stress as well as to help manage weight
yoga to help nervous sweating
Tips to prevent nervous sweating:
4)  Meditation or deep breathing exercises can help to calm your mind and body before a stressful situation
nivea product to help prevent nervous sweating
Tips to prevent nervous sweating:
5)  Seek out other activities that you find relaxing. This may be a daily bath with your favourite calming bubble bath (try the NIVEA Indulgent Moisture Relax), reading or calling a friend - laughing is one of the best ways to keep that stress response in check

Nervous Sweating

Antiperspirants and nervous sweating

nivea product to stop stress sweat

If you regularly suffer from nervous sweating, opt for an antiperspirant over deodorant. Deodorants will help you smell nice but won’t stop you sweating, while antiperspirants are designed to control how much you sweat. 

There is a wide array of antiperspirants available. Find one that works for you. 

Aluminium Chloride is the go to ingredient for nervous sweating as they are particularly effective at controlling sweat glands. Antiperspirants containing this active ingredient are designed to be tough on sweat - the NIVEA Dry Fresh anti-perspirant deodorant both give that long-lasting dry feeling with a fresh fragrance.
Apply once in the morning and once before you go to bed as putting it on at night helps. For extra peace of mind, pop one in your bag so that you have it to hand when you need it.


Nervous Sweating

Breathing exercises

The best way to treat nervous sweating is to deal with the nervousness itself. Breathing exercises are an easy and quick way to control anxiety before a big event. 
While most of us give little thought to how we breathe, conscious breathing is a really effective way to reduce stress and can really help to calm you down before a big event, or just generally help you control that flight or fight response.
  • Sit or lie down on your back. 
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose until your abdomen fully expands. 
  • Release the breath slowly through your nose or mouth. 

Some people find it useful to count in and out for five breaths - or however many is comfortable for you.

deep breathing to prevent stress sweat