What is a cold sweat?

A cold sweat is a condition in which you sweat and your skin feels clammy and very cool or cold. It commonly affects the palms of the hands, underarms, and feet.

The body sweats as a way to keep itself cool, so it is normal to sweat if you are in a warm environment or if you’ve exerted yourself. The body also sweats as a reaction to stress or anxiety. This type of sweat often feels cool instead of warm.

Cold sweat can also be a symptom of a variety of mild to serious conditions or even a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care, such as a heart attack, severe injury, or shock. When you have a cold sweat due to serious conditions, you may also look very pale and feel weak, short of breath, or have other symptoms, such as chills or chest pain. It is important when you experience a cold sweat that you pay close attention to all the symptoms that you are feeling, so that you and your licensed medical professional can identify and treat its underlying cause.

Some underlying causes of a cold sweat can lead to life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have chest pain, shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain, or a change in consciousness or alertness, with or without a cold sweat.


What other symptoms might occur with a cold sweat?

A cold sweat often occurs with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Symptoms that may occur with a cold sweat include:


What causes a cold sweat?

A cold sweat is often caused by mental and emotional stress, anxiety, or panic, but it can also be caused by a variety of diseases and disorders. A cold sweat may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting, such as heart attack or severe allergic reaction.

Blood and heart conditions that can cause a cold... Read more about cold sweatcauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 1, 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.