Clammy skin is described as cool, moist, and
largely pale skin that is not generally caused by a rigorous physical activity or a reaction to hot weather. It is not a symptom or diagnosis on its own,but rather, it might be a symptom of a serious medical condition, thus this symptom should never be ignored. Clammy skin may be a symptom of medical emergencies such as anaphylaxis and shock.
Seeking medical care does not always have to be immediate but it is necessary. The doctor will require going over the medical history of the patient and his or her family. Several tests will be done to ensure proper diagnosis. Treatment will be tailored according to underlying cause.
Causes of Clammy Skin
There is a wide range of possible causes that may result to clammy skin, some of which are serious or life-threatening conditions. The following are the common causes of clammy skin:
- Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
- Severe pain
- Heat exhaustion
- Medical emergencies:
- Pulmonary embolus
- Heavy or internal bleeding
- Severe infection
- Heart attack
- Organ failure
When to Seek Medical Attention Regarding Clammy Skin
If any of the following symptoms are present with clammy skin, it may be time to call for medical attention immediately:
- Pale, moist skin
- Quick heart rate
- Pain or discomfort in the chest, abdomen, back or limbs
- Presence of blood in stool, which may be black, bright red or maroon red
- Recurring or persistent vomiting, especially if accompanied by presence of blood
- Shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Persistent clammy skin
- Symptoms of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis):
- Difficulty breathing
- Facial swelling
- Itchy skin
- Swelling in the mouth and throat (airway)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Symptoms of shock
- Chest pain or pressure
- Cyanosis of fingernails, lips and mucous membranes
- Confusion or decreased level of awareness
- Low urine output
- Rapid or weak pulse
- Loss of consciousness
First Aid Management for Clammy Skin
If one is unsure of the cause of the cause of clammy skin, call the local emergency number. Home care will depend on the underlying cause.After calling emergency medical services, the following can be done:
- If clammy skin is caused by heavy or internal bleeding, follow first aid protocol which involves controlling bleeding and avoiding infection.
- If caused by anaphylaxis, if the person has epinephrine, administer.
- For cases of heart attack, anaphylaxis, shock or organ failure, check and monitor for vital signs. Check the CABs of first aid. Initiate CPR when necessary.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice or treatment. The information given should not be used for self-diagnosis of possible conditions. Seek medical attention when necessary. Understanding symptoms that are commonly present in medical, whether emergency or not, situations may help when taking first aid training. To learn more about to how to manage and recognize symptoms, such as clammy skin, enrol in First Aid Courses with workplace approved Training.
Kahn, April. (2013). Clammy Skin.Healthline. Retrieved October 3, 2013, from http://www.healthline.com/health/skin-clammy
Skin – clammy.(2011). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 3, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003216.htm