Did that plate of enchiladas or tangy dipping sauce make your forehead sweat? Some foods can make your skin start to drip, but sweating while you eat can have other causes, too.
Bring the Heat
The most common reason people sweat when they eat involves spicy foods like peppers. Peppers have a chemical called capsaicin that triggers the nerves that make your body feel warmer, so you sweat to cool it back down. Your face also may be flushed, your nose may run, and your eyes may water.
Foods that have acidic ingredients, like vinegar, or that you eat at a high temperature can make you sweat as well.
Sometimes, a high-sugar meal can cause your body to make too much insulin, the hormone that helps you process sugar and change it into energy. That can lead to a dive in blood sugar known as reactive hypoglycemia. Sweating is one sign of that.
Other foods, like garlic and onion, may not make you sweat, but they can make your sweat smell differently. Those foods have a chemical called allicin, which your body changes to a sulfur compound. That compound can give your sweat, and your breath, a distinct odor.
For some people, the reaction isn’t caused by a specific food, but by a medical condition, often related to an issue with the nerves in their mouths.
Doctors call excessive sweating hyperhidrosis. When it happens after you eat, that’s known as gustatory hyperhidrosis, or Frey’s syndrome, after the doctor who first identified it.
Gustatory sweating is rare, but it can happen for several reasons:
- It runs in your family.
- The nerves in your mouth were damaged by an injury or during surgery.
- You have an ongoing health issue that affects your nerves, like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease.
What Can You Do?
Antiperspirants have a chemical that plugs your pores and stops sweat for a while. You can get them over the counter, but a doctor can prescribe a stronger one if you need it.
Botulinum toxin, or Botox, can block the nerves that make you sweat when you eat. It’s given with a shot and can work for several months at a time.
And as the old saying goes, if it hurts when you do something, then don’t do it. If certain foods cause trouble for you, stay away from them.