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Flop Sweat: 33 Stress-Sweat Triggers & Actions to Stop Nervous Sweating ASAP

When you’re in a situation that is making you nervous, you might experience flop sweat. And that makes you feel even worse. So, what can you do about it?

flop sweat stress nervous sweating

A lot of people have an uncommon amount of anxiety and nervousness while growing up that eventually manifests into a giant black hole. They might have strong BO in public and huge sweat patches. Their experience of school, university, and work might be of sticky and uncomfortable sweatiness under their pits – which could then trigger flop sweat and an increasingly sweaty brow.

Just the anticipation of sweating would cause this chain of events. They might even fear being in a very public or close-contact space such as sitting in a crowded assembly room in-between other students, in an intimate classroom, or for a public speech.

Sweating might be sexy when you’re between the sheets, but flop sweat is anything but. 

Yes, nervous sweating can be an embarrassing and annoying problem, especially if you’re on a first date or trying to pick someone up. At first, you’re cool and charming, and the next minute you’ve got swimming pools in your underarms. Not a good look.

Humans sweat one liter per day. This seems like an excessive amount, but most of it evaporates as soon as it leaves your body. If you find you are sweating more than this every day, you may be dealing with stress sweat. 

Actually, nervous sweating is a form of social anxiety usually associated with hyperhidrosis. Just another little quirk those with social stresses have to deal with.

Here’s how to stop excessive sweating and save your laundry from pit stains!

Why do people sweat?

Thermoregulation is the process where your brain calls up your sweat glands and tells them it’s time to start raining out your body. [Read: How to act cool in front of a guy without breaking into a sweat]

This is done to keep your body cool and, well, regulated! People sweat for plenty of reasons, including exercise, stress, food, sickness, heat, and you guessed it: nerves.

Male sweat glands are more active than female ones, which is why men generally sweat more than women. 

Not that there aren’t times when women take the gold medal for perspiration. Here’s looking at you, hormonal changes! [Read: Gynophobia – the fear of women and ways to overcome it]

Why does flop sweat happen?

Say you were walking down your local park and you saw a fully-grown tiger a few paces ahead. Its muscular back rippled as it looked up at you and made eye contact. 

For the next 10 minutes, you tried not to move… if you were so lucky to escape, afterward, you’d probably be dripping wet with sweat and your t-shirt sticking to your back.

Sweat helps your body not overheat during intense physical exertion. [Read: Benefits of exercise on your mind, body, and libido]

So, even though the temperature didn’t rise when you were faced with the tiger, your brain assumed that it might increase in the very near future if it chased you and you had to try to fight or escape. 

What your brain actually did was signal the release of the hormone epinephrine, causing you to sweat.

A lot of things can cause sweat, such as menopause, drugs, or disease. So, consider going to the doctor if you think you may be suffering from an illness or a condition. [Read: How to get rid of nervousness and calm your mind wherever you are]

But if you’re reading this, chances are there’s some situation that makes you so nervous that you sweat – and you want to master this reaction.

Who’s the culprit of flop sweat?

If you’re looking for someone to blame, look no further than your own body. That’s right, it turned against you!

There are two types of sweat glands. First, there are the eccrine glands. These are responsible for sweaty heads, faces, hands, and feet. [Read: Chemistry of love – how hormones make you feel love the way you do]

Second, are the apocrine glands. These are responsible for underarm and groin sweat, as well as stress-related perspiring.

Common flop sweat triggers

Sweating is a natural function of your body. This is going to happen when you are over-exerted, nervous, or even drunk. 

However, nervous sweating is usually caused by one of four triggers. One of these is probably why you’re getting sweat stains. [Read: The socially awkward person’s guide to flirting]

1. Social anxiety and stress

Stress can trigger your large apocrine glands. When you get sweaty during social interactions, you will probably also notice your heart racing and your adrenaline heightening.

Anxiety triggers how the body reacts to certain situations. Since your adrenaline has kicked in and your breathing has quickened, your sweat glands will soon follow suit.

2. Hyper-stimulation

When under extreme stress, the body starts to have a stress reaction. This stress response tricks the body into thinking it’s in danger, and the body begins to react accordingly. [Read: How to improve yourself – 16 powerful secrets of self-improvement]

This usually results in sweaty palms, hot and cold sweats, and involuntary sweating at any time for seemingly no reason at all.

3. Worrying about sweating

Yeah, this one sucks. The more you worry about social nervous sweating, the more likely you are to psyche your body into following through. 

You can combat this with deep breathing exercises. [Read: How not to be nervous – 18 calm ways to eliminate nerves instantly]

Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for several seconds before exhaling slowly through the mouth. Your exhale should take about 6 seconds. 

Self-acceptance is also important. So, you may as well acknowledge that yes, you’re going to sweat in public, but it’s going to go away – why worry?

4. Fear of being judged 

No one likes to be judged. We all want to be accepted, liked, and loved for who we are. But let’s face it – the world can be cruel sometimes. There are some very critical people out there. [Read: Lessons to deal with judgmental people]

So, if you have an excessive fear of being judged by someone, this could be causing your flop sweat. It could be anyone, your parents, peers, someone you have a crush on, or an audience full of people. Either way, it can cause excessive sweating.

5. Anticipation

Anticipation can be good or bad. You can be eagerly awaiting a date with your crush and be overly excited. Or, you can be anticipating an exam or job interview that is making you nervous.

Either way, whether it’s good or bad, it still fires up your nervous system. And when this happens, it can cause flop sweat. [Read: First date nerves – 18 ways to not be nervous for a date and feel calm]

6. Embarrassment

No one likes to be embarrassed either. It’s horrifying for some people when something happens that causes them embarrassment. Instead of just laughing it off, they feel like crawling under a table or into a hole and never coming out.

This embarrassment can also cause an avalanche of emotions that also trigger biological functions in your body that will cause you to sweat excessively.

7. Stimulants

Any kind of stimulant can activate the central nervous system which triggers your sweat glands.

Caffeine and heat from hot beverages like coffee can also make the situation worse by fooling your body into thinking your body temperature is too high. [Read: Butterflies in your stomach – 16 steps to control and calm them instantly]

If the thought of giving up your precious coffee or energy drink is just too much for you, then try to just cut back on them. Try it for a while to see if it makes any difference.

8. Medications

Some medications trigger anxiety which promotes flop sweat. The types of medications that can cause this include diabetes drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs *NSAIDs*, and blood pressure medicines.

If you think that maybe one of the medications you are taking could be contributing to your flop sweat, don’t just stop taking it. You need to seek medical advice first before a diagnosis. [Read: Fear of rejection – 56 signs, causes, and ways to overcome and get over it]

Talk to your doctor to discuss alternatives if you find that your medication is a contributing factor to your sweating.

Why flop sweat is annoying

Not only is nervous sweating embarrassing, but it’s also pretty annoying. Those who suffer from excessive perspiration know what it’s like to carry deodorant and an extra shirt in their cars. 

Not fun. Here are just some of the reasons nervous sweating is annoying.

1. It stinks

Sweat, by nature, doesn’t actually have a scent. 

But when the bacteria on your skin start to salsa with your sweat, they begin to multiply and cause body odor. This is not a good time.

2. It leaves stains

Those who use white solid antiperspirants will probably notice the buildup of tiny snowmen underneath your arms during the day. [Read: Social anxiety to social butterfly – how to be less awkward]

Attractive, right? Not only are these white balls annoying, but they also stain your clothes.

3. Heat rash sucks

Candida yeast naturally found on your skin can actually cause a rash when there is a buildup of sweat on your body. This will usually occur between the thighs and around your armpits. 

Heat rash can also occur if you are allergic to your deodorant or if you aggravate your skin with tight, synthetic fabrics. [Read: Shy extrovert – what it means, 26 signs, and how they’re not like others]

When your wet skin comes into rubbing contact with another part of your body over and over, you will probably find yourself with a rash of red, painful bumps. 

These can take days to go away and cause extreme discomfort.

How to mentally overcome flop sweat

Just so you know, flop sweat is automatic and can be triggered by your nerves. It’s your body’s way of pre-empting fight or flight when it spots a threat. [Read: How to hone and increase your positive emotions in a negative world]

Here’s what can help you.

1. Embracing anxiety

Whatever you focus on not only grows, but it also becomes your whole world. Also what you try to block only cracks through the seams.

Over time, you will become more competent at the things that you are bad at and forget about your nervousness.

The rest of the world will come into focus when you don’t obsess about eliminating one aspect of your experience. [Read: Signs of anxiety – how to read the signs ASAP and handle them better]

You have to accept that at moments you’ll have some anxiety depending on circumstance because it’s a healthy and normal emotion.

You also might have fearlessness, love, anger, and so on. All of it might be a part of you. 

Over time, you’ll probably grow the natural and authentic type of confidence that only comes with hard-won experience – not the pretend or showy kind. [Read: How to put yourself out there and embrace anxiety]

2. Re-framing it

Anxiety is a close cousin of excitement because both are arousal states, which is why – rather than jumping from anxiety into a sense of calm – it’s easier to convert nervousness into a feeling of excitement.

A situation could be interpreted as being on the spot and under investigation or more like getting the chance to shine and show what you’re made of.

Re-frame the situation using what’s called anxiety reappraisal – when you add to an anxious thought: “I’m so excited that… ” or “I’m going to get the chance to… ” or “I just can’t wait… ” [Read: How not to be nervous – 18 calm ways to eliminate nerves instantly]

Tap into that fighter, explorer, curiosity, and alertness. Remind yourself that no one can read your mind and really people don’t care if you’re a little bit nervous, it’s normal and sometimes a sign that you can be trusted.

3. Not being perfect

Do you want to get it right the first time – to astound, be flawless? Good luck. A lot of people can count perfectionism as one of their biggest flaws and one that they try to avoid. 

Especially in this age of instant connectivity, if you’re afraid of failure then you can’t possibly be in the game for real.

No one cares if you make a mistake – they care whether you tried and were brave enough to put yourself out there. [Read: The fear of failure and how it can ruin your life for good]

So, make it your policy to do, learn from feedback, and do it again. All this obsessing over what will happen is often the problem itself.

4. Not comparing – doing you

Not who you wish you were or what you think is cool, but you. Whenever you beat yourself up about not doing something in this or that way, you’re usually trying to meet someone else’s expectations.

“Doing you” is to focus on your biggest strengths and to shore up major weaknesses. [Read: I’m not good enough – how to bring yourself up when you feel low]

An example of this is if you’re a great communicator verbally but a terrible writer. Something like a YouTube channel would suit you really well and a blog perhaps not so well. 

Why crucify yourself for trying to be as good a writer as Mrs. A, when you’re a better speaker than average and really enjoy doing it?

5. Focus on the moment

Another great strategy to avoid flop sweat is being in the here and now.

The movements of your lungs, faces in the room, moving your thumb around your index finger in a circular motion, and feeling the texture of your skin. [Read: How to focus on yourself and build your own sunshine]

Whatever gets you into the moment – a yawn, a stretch. Meditation can help greatly with this ability.

6. Visualizing yourself succeeding

This probably sounds strange and ridiculous, but if you actually try it, then it can work out really well. You will get the feeling that it’s a call to action for your brain to gear itself for a big moment to come sometime in the future.

This is intended in action and your brain roots for you when you have strong intent. You definitely want your brain on your side when it really counts, like when you want to avoid flop sweat. [Read: Life questions to help you visualize the future]

7. Not lying

And telling the truth… if you’ve got something to hide you’ll be more nervous. You should practice honesty even, actually especially, when it’s not convenient. 

Even admitting that you’re nervous is a good way of doing this. Life is a lot more complicated when you lie.

When you tell the truth, life is simple and sometimes very exciting because you never quite know what will happen when you tell the truth. Focus on telling meta-truths rather than one-dimensional truths. [Read: Lying in a relationship – 15 steps to confront a lie and heal the love]

So for example, if you are on a date and find the person to be boring, rather than saying “you’re boring,” you could say something like “you know, I think we seem pretty different in the type of things we’re into.” 

Both statements can be true, however, the second one is less concerned with just how you feel and more with the both of us.

8. Know your sweat triggers 

Everyone is different, so it’s also important to do some self-reflection and try to figure out what makes you sweat. What are your triggers? [Read: Signs of low self-esteem and ways to increase it]

Are you a shy person who gets anxious in social situations? Do you worry or stress about life in general? Are you frequently overstimulated?

Once you know the answers to these questions, then you can take action to avoid the triggers. That is better because then you get to the root of the problem and don’t just put a “band-aid” on the situation.

9. Soothing self-talk

If the source of your flop sweat is because you are nervous, anxious, or don’t think you’re good enough, then it’s time to work on your self-esteem.

Write down all of your good qualities so you can see on paper how great you are. [Read: Positive self-talk – what it is, where it comes from, and how to master it]

Then, when you are confronted with a situation where you would normally break out in a nervous sweat, remind yourself of these things you like about yourself. Talking to yourself in a soothing manner can help you calm down and stop sweating.

Actions that will help stop flop sweat

Now that you know the who’s and what’s of the world of sweating, it’s time to learn how to cope with it. Here are 7 simple tips and tricks for dealing with nervous sweating.

1. Breathing

Practice deep, slow breathing into your nose down to your belly, and out of your mouth, when you want to relax and be calm. You can even do this with meditation. [Read: How to be more outgoing – ways to step out of the comfort zone]

You can place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly to test it. If your chest rises then you’re not breathing into your belly. 

When you breathe out, purse your lips as if you’re blowing out a candle. Breathing into your mouth actually makes you feel less calm as it’s related to the fight or flight mechanism *you breathe into your mouth when you need more air in order to move intensely*.

2. Using antiperspirant and deodorant

Deodorant vs. antiperspirant. It goes without saying that if you suffer from chronic sweating, you should be wearing some kind of underarm protection. Here is the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. [Read: Is talking to yourself normal? The good and bad of self-talk]

Deodorant: A deodorant is usually a scented substance applied to the underarms that will help prevent the bacterial breakdown that causes body odor. 

This is not meant to prevent sweating, it is meant to prevent the odor associated with sweating.

Antiperspirant: An antiperspirant is also a scented gel or solid applied to the underarms. However, this type of deodorant works by blocking your sweat glands. [Read: How to smell good and attract almost anyone you deeply desire]

Antiperspirants are usually more powerful than regular deodorant, but one could argue that sweat is *supposed* to leave the body, not stay trapped inside.

Antiperspirants also use chemicals like aluminum, which aren’t the healthiest for your body. If you use antiperspirants, try not to pack them on one layer after another. 

If you feel you need a touch-up, wash your armpits off with soap and water first, and then reapply. This will help prevent unnecessary pore blockage. [Read: How to wear cologne – cologne chemistry and the guide to do it right]

Whichever method you choose, make sure you’re wearing underarm protection every day and take a travel-sized bar with you for on-the-go emergencies.

PS: You can become resistant to your deodorants. It’s recommended that you switch your deodorant every 6 months to keep your body guessing!

3. Practicing

Practice can give you a bit more grounding even if it does not eliminate your flop sweat. You can be less nervous doing things that scare you and find your voice and hands do not shake.

4. Watch what you eat 

Have you ever heard of “coffee sweats”? Caffeine can cause adrenaline levels to spike and trigger your eccrine glands. Put simply, caffeine increases sweating

Spicy foods, alcohol, and nicotine should also be avoided, as they can trigger sweating. What better time to quit smoking?

5. Eating more

This one’s surprisingly effective for avoiding flop sweat, and it’s also easy to overlook because habits are hard to change. 

Sometimes you might be a bit more jittery than normal and when you think about it, you might notice that you haven’t eaten much. [Read: How to build self-confidence and realize you’re really worth it]

Perhaps you’ve done a lot of mind power-sapping work beforehand and it’s especially true if maybe you’ve done a big workout that same morning.

When you’re low in metabolic fuel, you’re more likely to feel nervous. An empty stomach = more anxiety. Increase your calories if you find that flop sweat is a common thing during your day.

6. Take up exercise

Is it counterproductive to take up a habit that causes your body to sweat in order to prevent excess sweating? Absolutely not!

Exercising is a healthy way to reduce anxiety and stimulate happy-go-lucky endorphins. [Read: Sweaty sex – animalistic reasons why it’s so dripping hot]

Exercise can also tire out your body. The less energy you have, the less your body will be able to produce heat and sweat.

7. Stay hydrated throughout the day

Sweating, especially in excess, can actually dehydrate your body. Make sure you are drinking at least 8 glasses, or 30-50 ounces of water each day to maintain a healthy self.

8. Stay calm

Easier said than done, obviously. To avoid whirling into a sweaty panic, try visualizing yourself as calm and collected. [Read: Stop being socially awkward – steps that’ll change you for good]

Other ideas include listening to calming music, reading a book, or doing breathing exercises. The more you think about yourself being relaxed, the less your nervous system will spin out on overdrive.

9. Get a good night’s rest

Sleep plays an integral role in the overall health of your body. Get a good night’s rest of at least eight hours and give your body time to recover from the day.

10. Dress strategically

Wear clothes that allow your skin to breatheIf you have a social engagement, try and plan your outfit ahead of time. If you know you’re going to be at an event, dress accordingly. [Read: How to dress to impress a girl and get more than just a second glance]

Stick to clothes that won’t create excess body heat. Clothes that allow your body to breathe will be better for your body and your confidence.

11. Do more things that make you flop sweat

Ultimately, being on the edge between where you think you’ll easily succeed and where you won’t is great for building more resilience and also for creating more opportunities. 

Life won’t begin until you find your own edge, and so for this reason, life happens at the edges. [Read: How to be fearless – 18 ways to set aside fear and live like a champion]

12. Consider supplements

There are some vitamins and supplements that can also help with your flop sweat. B-complex vitamins play an important role in regulating your body’s pH levels, so these are important to take.

Also, you can try vitamin D, which is essential for regulating your body temperature.

Magnesium is a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar and reduce sweating. It can also help reduce stress.

Calcium is another mineral that helps regulate blood vessels and nerve impulses and has been shown to improve skin health. [Read: How to explain anxiety to someone you love and do it fearlessly]

Sage can also help. It’s a great natural supplement that is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the symptoms of excessive sweating.

Oral supplements are the most efficient way of taking sage, so make sure you consume them regularly for the best results.

13. Reduce your caffeine intake

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and increases sweating. It also causes your blood pressure to rise, raises your heart rate, and kicks your sweat glands into high gear.

So, if you really like coffee or other drinks that contain caffeine, you can stop drinking so much to reduce your flop sweat. Sure, it might be difficult, but it might be worth it in the end.

When to consult a doctor about flop sweat

The clinical, medical name for flop sweat is hyperhidrosis. So, when should you be concerned and go see your doctor?

You should seek immediate medical attention if your heavy sweating is accompanied by lightheadedness, chest pain, or nausea.

Also, if you suddenly begin to sweat more than usual, it disrupts your daily routine, you experience night sweats for no reason, or if your sweating causes emotional distress or social withdrawal.

[Read: Motivational tips-n-tricks for introverts and shy people]

Flop sweat is not a big deal and is something you need to figure out how to deal with. If you follow these tips, you can get it under control eventually. 

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...