What Causes Cold Clammy Skin?

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, APRN on May 10, 2018Written by Mary Ellen Ellis

Sticky or clammy skin can be caused by a variety of problems, some of which require emergency medical care. The moistness of sticky skin is the result of sweating. Any number of things can cause you to sweat excessively, from shock or a heart... Read More

Overview

Sticky or clammy skin can be caused by a variety of problems, some of which require emergency medical care. The moistness of sticky skin is the result of sweating.

Any number of things can cause you to sweat excessively, from shock or a heart attack to an infection or a panic attack. To relieve the clamminess, the underlying cause needs to be treated. If the cause could be life-threatening, seek medical help right away.

Causes of sticky skin

Clammy, sticky, or moist skin may have any number of causes. However, several of these can be life-threatening:

Many different types of infections, which may be treatable, lead to fevers in the body as well as clammy skin:

There are other common causes of sticky and clammy skin that don’t necessarily require emergency treatment:

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome may also be a less common cause of clammy skin. This occurs when someone who is addicted to alcohol feels a variety of symptoms, including sticky skin, after suddenly stopping drinking.

Treatments for sticky skin

Treatment for clammy or sticky skin depends on the underlying cause. Emergency situations require immediate medical attention. This includes heart attacks, shock, heat exhaustion, internal bleeding, and venomous or severe bites.

Some of the infections that cause clamminess can be treated, such as those from bacteria. Others, like influenza and mononucleosis, must simply run their course, although treatment for symptoms is possible with over-the-counter medications.

Other possible causes of clammy skin may be treatable but require a diagnosis from your doctor. If you’re experiencing sticky skin and you have no explanation for it, see your doctor.

When sticky skin is an emergency

If you or someone near you is experiencing clamminess along with these other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:

  • chest pain
  • a rapid heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing or shallow breathing
  • swelling in the mouth, face, or throat
  • a weak pulse or a rapid pulse
  • blue fingernails and lips
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

Outlook for sticky skin

Many of the causes of sticky skin aren’t life-threatening and are treatable. Many infections run their course or can be cleared up with treatment, especially when caught early. Panic attack disorders can be treated with counseling and medication. Conditions like hypotension, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, and menopause can be managed and symptoms reduced by lifestyle changes or medication.

When clammy skin is the result of a life-threatening incident, the outlook depends on reaction time and when emergency medical professionals can start treatment. If they can administer treatment in time for a heart attack, shock, bleeding, heat exhaustion, or bites, it’s possible to make a full recovery.

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, APRN on May 10, 2018Written by Mary Ellen Ellis

15 possible conditions

  1. Image source
  2. Image source
  3. Image source
  4. Image source

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose. Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, APRN on May 10, 2018Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
CMS Id: Client Version: 66acaa86a010bb04eb17790be155f6af90cfa9c4 Build Number: 19434