Sweat or perspiration often feels sticky if you sweat profusely or let the sweat dry on your skin. Sweat has salt in it and mixes with the natural oils on your skin's surface, which accounts for the uncomfortable sticky feeling when you sweat a lot. Excessive perspiration can be a side effect of a medical condition.
Science of Sweat
Sweating is your body's way of cooling itself. Your body is sweating at all times. The sweat mixes with the sebum, or natural oils, on your skin, which can make it feel sticky. When you perspire, you release a salty liquid from your sweat glands. You may sweat more than normal as a result of exercise, heat, fever, certain emotions (including anger and embarrassment) and as a side effect of medications and medical conditions such as menopause. Sweating also can be a response to consuming excessive caffeine, alcohol or spicy food.
Medical Causes of Sticky Sweat
Some medical conditions list excessive sweating as a side effect. Some possible culprits include menopause, an overactive thyroid gland, low blood sugar, hyperhidrosis and withdrawal from certain narcotics. Hyperhidrosis is a condition where your body overproduces sweat, even when you're at rest or in a cool temperature. It often occurs in the underarms and the hands and feet, referred to as primary or focal hyperhidrosis.
How to Prevent Sticky Sweat
The best way to avoid feeling sticky after you sweat is to take a shower and wash your face, change clothes, drink plenty of water (excessive sweating can cause dehydration), and try and move to a cooler temperature. If you feel your body is overproducing sweat, you can talk to your doctor about getting Botox shots to halt the production in your sweat glands. Your doctor can prescribe prescription-strength antiperspirants, drugs to prevent the stimulation of sweat glands, or iontophoresis, a therapy that uses electricity to "turn off" the sweat glands. In serious cases, your doctor may prescribe an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, where the nerves that control sweating are cut.