Why Are My Feet Always Cold and Clammy?

Are cold and clammy feet causing problems? Does your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend complain about the way your feet feel when you’re laying in bed? Cool, moist feet aren’t pleasant for you or your partner. The primary cause of feet that are clammy is usually excessive sweating or poor circulation. But, there are more specific reasons you can be aware of so you can try to treat the problem.

Clammy skin is usually wet or moist to the touch. Coldness often goes along with clamminess, because sweating is the body’s way to cool off naturally. It’s a necessary function. But, specific changes in the body or even external situations can trigger your sweat glands too much. This can make your feet sweat more, and cause them to become cold and clammy.

You don’t have to feel overheated for your feet to sweat. If you’re wondering, ‘why do my feet sweat when I’m cold,’ you’re not alone. There are a few different conditions you may be dealing with that can cause cold feet when sitting, or cold feet while laying in bed.

It’s important to know the cause. Your feet shouldn’t have to feel like they are on pins and needles all the time. The sooner you know the cause of this problem, the sooner you can find the right solution.

What Causes Cold and Clammy Feet?

Specific conditions can lead to cool, sweaty feet. This guide will cover a few of the most common problems. Feet are a great indicator of your general health. Let’s look at a few of the common problems you could be facing if your feet are always cold and wet.

Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating on different areas of the body. It most commonly occurs on the hands, under the arms, and the feet. There isn’t a known cause. But, most research suggests it may be linked to obesity or thyroid function. It’s also common among family members.

The thyroid gland regulates hormones throughout the body. It also controls our metabolic rate. If it isn’t working correctly, it’s easy to gain weight. It can also cause you to feel sluggish and fatigued. An overactive thyroid may be increasing the body’s stress levels. Temperature is often linked to this condition.

Hyperhidrosis works by causing the nervous system to go into overdrive. The arteries become narrow, and sweat glands in your body become too stimulated.

The primary symptom of this condition is, as you might have guessed, excessive sweating. When you’re dealing with hyperhidrosis in your feet, it can become serious. Excessive foot sweating can lead to things like fungal infections, foul odors, or even accidents. You can slip within your shoes and twist an ankle, or your feet may slip off of things like the pedals in a car.

Hyperhidrosis must be diagnosed by a doctor, usually through nothing more than a physical examination. There are both surgical and nonsurgical options to help the condition. Nonsurgical options include over-the-counter medication.

Poor Circulation

A lack of blood flow to your feet can cause them to feel extremely cold. Any moisture on your feet will add to the clamminess. If you have poor circulation in your lower body, it could be a sign of something more serious, like diabetes.

Poor circulation in the feet and legs is dangerous if you don’t keep track of it. If you ignore it, you could develop foot conditions without even realizing it until it’s too late. The good news is, there are things you can do to help boost circulation in your legs and feet. Some simple solutions include:

  • A foot circulation booster machine
  • A foot massage – You can either use a massaging device, get one professionally done, or even give yourself a regular foot massage
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep your legs elevated when you’re in a sitting position

Peripheral Vascular Disease

A peripheral vascular disease occurs when the arteries in your body become narrow. They can become so narrow that it becomes difficult for blood to pass through freely. This creates poor circulation.

There are many possible causes of this disease, but some of the more common risk factors include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Diabetes

Symptoms of this disease can include pain in the legs, and even difficulty walking. You may even feel as though your legs are tingling. Again, when you’re dealing with improper blood flow to the feet, it makes it easy for them to feel cold and clammy. If you can relate to one of the risk factors listed above, and you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have a peripheral vascular disease.

This is a condition that requires an official medical diagnosis. It’s likely you’ll have to go through lab testing for a doctor to make their diagnosis. A peripheral vascular disease can be considered a chronic condition. In some people, it lasts for years. Others have to deal with it as a lifelong problem.

Lifestyle changes are often the best way to treat the condition. Sometimes, changes in your diet or exercise can help to manage the problem. If you are a smoker, quitting the habit can also help to reduce your symptoms.

If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition and lifestyle changes aren’t enough, medication or surgery can be an option. People usually only turn to these options when nothing else works, and the pain or discomfort has become too severe.

Nerve Damage

There are different ways in which nerve damage can cause your feet to feel cold or clammy. Sometimes, they may not even feel cold to the touch, but they will feel chilled to you. One potential cause is damage to your sympathetic nerves.

Sympathetic nerves respond to stress. If you are overly stressed or your feet have recently experienced trauma, they may sweat more even if they feel cold. Reducing your stress levels can help, or giving your feet time to heal if they’ve gone through trauma.

Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common nerve problems associated with cold feet. It is due to damaged nerves caused by an injury or underlying medical condition, like diabetes. This is another condition that has to do with limited blood flow to the feet. But, they will also feel cold to the touch. This is another condition that needs to be professionally diagnosed.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Tingling in the feet and legs
  • Sharp, burning pain
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lack of feeling

Treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on what’s causing it. If it’s an underlying medical condition, treating that condition is the best way to get rid of these symptoms. There are also over 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy. Each one requires a specific treatment. Treatment ranges from pain relievers to topical treatments. Sometimes, stronger medications like antidepressants may be needed.

Raynaud’s Syndrome

Raynaud’s Syndrome is a condition in which certain parts of your body feel cold. It typically occurs in the hands and feet. This condition is due to small arteries that constrict in cold temperatures. When these arteries get smaller, it reduces blood flow to your hands and feet. The lack of circulation can cause your hands and feet to feel cold. It can even cause these extremities to feel numb for a short period.

The good news is that the symptoms of this condition rarely last. Any treatment beyond self-care is hardly ever needed. Because it usually only occurs in cold temperatures, once you warm yourself up, the feeling in your hands and feet should be restored.

If you experience cold fingers, toes, etc., in warm weather, or the sensation doesn’t go away, you may want to get a diagnosis from a doctor. Another underlying medical condition may be the cause of your issues.

Why are the feet cold and sweaty?

Anxiety

You’ve probably heard the term ‘cold feet’ before when it comes to backing out of a stressful situation. But, it’s more than just saying. Anxiety and stress can contribute to cold, clammy skin. Anxiety can double up on issues that cause cold feet, including both excessive sweating and a different pattern of blood flow.

When you are in a high-stress situation, your body goes into a ‘fight or flight’ response. This makes blood flow more readily into your heart and larger muscles. It also heats up the body. But, since the blood flow during these times is directed away from your feet, they can become cold. This lack of blood flow combined with excessive sweating can quickly cause your feet to feel clammy.

Blood flow from anxiety is also often redirected if you start hyperventilating. This method of faster breathing makes your blood vessels constrict. Unfortunately, the smaller they become, the more blood flow throughout the body slows down. As blood flow slows down, your feet may start to feel colder, or you may even have feet that tingle.

Anxiety also tends to increase our sensitivities. You may be more prone to clammy feet, but maybe you don’t recognize it often. When we have elevated levels of stress, even the smallest ailments can feel much worse. Any discomfort you might regularly experience can feel stronger when you’re anxious about something. That’s why anxiety is about changes in the mind as well as the body.

The best thing you can do about anxiety is to try and reduce the number of stressful situations you’re in. Or, practice techniques that can help you manage it. Everything from exercise to meditation can help.  If it becomes a real problem for you, you may need to seek out the help of a mental health professional.

Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis is much like a peripheral vascular disease. But, there are differences, and they need to be treated separately. Arteriosclerosis occurs when the arteries within your body start to harden. It is a disease of the blood vessels. When the arteries become harder, blood can’t flow through them as freely.

When blood can’t correctly flow through your body, it often results in cold feet and hands.

Treatment for arteriosclerosis can include something as simple as lifestyle changes to encourage a healthy heart. For some people, that’s enough to reverse the condition and increase blood flow to where it needs to be.

For others, more extreme medical measures may be needed. Certain medications and even surgery are treatment options for severe cases of arteriosclerosis. The goal of treatment is to reduce the risk of blood clots from forming.

Heart Attack

Having a heart attack isn’t a permanent condition, but it’s something to be aware of if your skin suddenly starts to sweat and feel clammy. Heart attacks occur when certain areas of blood flow are blocked. The heart works harder to pump blood throughout the body, and as a result, your skin can start to feel cold. Because many symptoms of a heart attack are the same as the flu, you may also begin sweating.

This is a rarer occurrence than many of the conditions listed in this article. But, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of a heart attack. If you start to experience other symptoms like tightness or pain in the chest, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Get Rid of Sweaty Feet

If you have hyperhidrosis or your feet sweat too much, a medical treatment may be needed to get rid of it. But, there are other things you can do to combat sweaty feet in general.

Some tips you can use to deal with excessive sweating include:

  • Practice good foot hygiene
  • Use a foot powder on your feet or in your shoes
  • Soak your feet in Epsom salts regularly
  • Wear breathable socks for sweaty feet
  • Wear shoes that fit properly

Reasons why feet are so cold and sweaty

If you do have really sweaty feet, trying to wick away moisture as much as possible is essential. Not only will excessive sweating cause your feet to become clammy, but it can lead to some of the same complications as hyperhidrosis. This includes things like athletes foot, which will eventually have to be treated separately.

Because sweaty feet are such a common cause of coldness and clamminess, you should take the time to determine what might be causing yours. In some cases, it may be as simple as wearing shoes with better ventilation throughout the day.

Whatever the reason, you can use the tips listed here to help cut down on excessive sweating. If you do, you’ll likely find your feet are more comfortable, and you’ll reduce your risk of other foot conditions.

Can You Put a Stop to Clammy Feet?

If you’re more prone to sweaty feet or have poor circulation, there are some tips that will help:

  • Wash your feet each day. Keeping your feet clean and dry will not only help with certain conditions like hyperhidrosis, but it will reduce your risk of getting an infection or fungus. You can even use an antibacterial or antifungal soap. It’s important to dry off your feet completely after washing them each time. Any moisture that becomes trapped, whether it’s due to a daily wash or sweat, can lead to more significant foot issues.
  • Use the right resources to boost circulation. We touched on electric foot massagers and foot circulation machines before. But, something as simple as getting more exercise or avoiding long stretches of immobility can make a difference.
  • Make sure you always have the right footwear. Not only can the wrong footwear increase your chances of sweating, but they can also lead to trauma of the feet. If your shoes are too small and tight, for example, you could be banging your toes into the front of them with every step you take. This can lead to significant damage over time. Trauma can affect the blood flow to your feet and make them feel colder.

We hope this guide has given you some insight into what might be causing your clammy, cold feet. The more you know about these different conditions, the sooner you can get the right kind of treatment.