What is clammy skin?

Clammy skin occurs when your skin turns cooler than normal and is moist, despite a cooler surface temperature. Clammy skin is often pale. When the body is in any type of circulatory crisis, adrenaline prompts a decrease in the blood flow to peripheral areas of your body (such as your appendages and skin) in order to redirect more blood to the vital organs. This causes the cool and clammy skin.

Frequent causes of clammy skin include acute allergic reaction; anxiety; hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); severe pain; and low blood oxygen levels from any of the following conditions: heart attack; heat exhaustion; pulmonary embolus (blockage of an artery within the lung due to a blood clot); heavy or internal bleeding, dehydration, or pneumonia; severe infection; or drug overdose that reduces heart function or blood pressure.

Almost any of these causes can be emergency conditions on their own. In addition, certain causes of clammy skin, such as any condition that reduces blood flow, can lead to shock or organ failure when untreated.

Clammy skin can be a symptom of an emergency situation. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms including bluish coloration of the lips, fingernails and mucous membranes(cyanosis); chest pain or discomfort; confusion or loss of consciousness, even for a brief moment; difficulty breathing; dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness; little or no urine output; profuse sweating; shortness of breath; or weak pulse.

If your clammy skin is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with clammy skin?

Clammy skin may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect blood oxygen levels may also involve other body systems.

Cardiovascular symptoms that may occur along with clammy skin

Clammy skin may accompany other symptoms that affect the cardiovascular system including:


What causes clammy skin?

The most frequent causes of clammy skin are anxiety; hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); severe pain; and other conditions that cause low blood-oxygen levels. Many causes of clammy skin are serious or life threatening.

Serious or life-threatening causes of clammy skin

In some cases, clammy skin may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immed... Read more about clammy skincauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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