Anhidrosis is the inability to sweat normally. When you don't sweat (perspire), your body can't cool itself, which can lead to overheating and sometimes to heatstroke — a potentially fatal condition.
Anhidrosis — sometimes called hypohidrosis — can be difficult to diagnose. Mild anhidrosis often goes unrecognized. Dozens of factors can cause the condition, including skin trauma and certain diseases and medications. You can inherit anhidrosis or develop it later in life.
Treatment of anhidrosis involves addressing the underlying cause, if one can be found.
Signs and symptoms of anhidrosis include:
A lack of perspiration can occur:
Areas that can sweat may try to produce more perspiration, so it's possible to sweat profusely on one part of your body and very little or not at all on another. Anhidrosis that affects a large portion of your body prevents proper cooling, so vigorous exercise, hard physical work and hot weather can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke.
Anhidrosis can develop on its own or as one of several signs and symptoms of another condition, such as diabetes or skin injury.
If you barely sweat, even when it's hot or you're working or exercising strenuously, talk to your doctor. Talk to your doctor if you notice you're sweating less than usual.
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop signs or symptoms of heatstroke.
Anhidrosis occurs when your sweat glands don't function properly, either as a result of a condition you're born with (congenital condition) or one that affects your nerves or skin. Dehydration also can cause anhidrosis. Sometimes the cause of anhidrosis can't be found.
Causes of anhidrosis include:
Heat-related illnesses are the most serious complications of anhidrosis. Children are especially vulnerable because their core temperatures rise faster than adults', and their bodies release heat less efficiently.
Heat-related problems include:
Anhidrosis often can't be prevented, but serious heat-related illnesses can. To stay safe:
Your doctor is likely to suspect anhidrosis based on your signs and symptoms, your medical history, and a physical exam. But you may need certain tests to confirm the diagnosis. These include:
Anhidrosis that affects a small part of your body usually isn't a problem and doesn't need treatment. But large areas of decreased perspiration can be life-threatening. Treatments may depend on the condition that's causing the anhidrosis. For example, if medications are causing the condition, discontinue taking that drug, if possible. If clogged sweat ducts are causing the condition, cleaning the skin with a gentle exfoliant might help.
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. You may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist).
Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For anhidrosis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions, as well.
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including: