Why Are My Feet Cold But Sweaty?

It’s a common scenario – your feet are icy cold yet damp with sweat. This uncomfortable and often embarrassing phenomenon can make you want to hide your feet, even on the hottest summer day. So what causes this contradictory condition? There are a few potential reasons why your feet may be cold but sweaty.

Poor Circulation

One of the most common reasons is simply poor circulation in the feet. Your feet are located farthest from the heart, so blood flow to this area can easily become compromised. Various health conditions like diabetes, peripheral artery disease, or neuropathy can restrict blood flow to the extremities. When blood can’t efficiently reach your feet, they don’t get warmed up well even though your core may feel hot. The lack of circulation also inhibits sweat from properly evaporating, leaving clammy moisture behind.

Thyroid Issues

Problems with your thyroid gland can also generate cold, sweaty feet. The thyroid regulates your metabolism, and dysfunction can slow it down significantly. With a sluggish metabolism, you don’t produce enough heat to keep your feet fully warm. But thyroid issues can also cause excessive sweating in general, hence the dampness. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been associated with cold, sweaty feet.

Anemia

Anemia, which is a low red blood cell count, is another possible cause. Red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. Without enough red blood cells, tissues like those in your feet can become deprived of oxygen. This leads to poor circulation, preventing your feet from getting sufficient blood flow and warmth. But anemia can also make people feel weak and fatigued with cold sweats.

Fungal Infections

Certain fungal infections of the feet, like athlete’s foot, can lead to cold, sweaty feet as well. Fungi thrive in the moist, sweaty environment inside shoes and socks. They cause irritation and inflammation, which can interfere with circulation and cause chills. Fungal infections also instigate more sweating as your feet try to fight off the infection. The increased moisture then perpetuates the growth of the fungi.

Stress and Anxiety

High stress and anxiety levels are notorious for inducing sweating, especially clammy hands and feet. This reaction is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. Stress triggers the “fight or flight response”, priming your body for action by increasing perspiration. Your extremities may feel extra cold and clammy as blood flow is redirected away from them and toward major muscles for quick reaction. Sweaty hands and feet when you’re stressed out are very normal.

So in summary, if your feet are constantly cold but sweaty at the same time, it may signal an underlying medical condition. Talk to your doctor about getting evaluated for circulatory problems, thyroid disease, anemia, or infections. With proper treatment of the root cause, you can finally achieve warm and dry feet. And be sure to wear moisture-wicking socks to help manage the symptoms!