Anhidrosis

What is Anhidrosis?

The condition known as anhidrosis refers to the fact that a person is unable to sweat normally. Anhidrosis is also sometimes referred to as hypohidrosis and can be tough for a medical team to diagnose because it can be difficult to observe in a clinical setting. This lack of sweating normally that characterizes anhidrosis can be caused by numerous conditions and can be acute or chronic in nature.

Acute

An acute case of anhidrosis, for example, could be caused by severe dehydration. Some prescription drugs and treatments could also cause anhidrosis. Botulinum toxin type A (also known as Botox) can cause anhidrosis as can morphine and certain psychiatric medications. On the other hand, radiation therapy for cancer treatment could also cause anhidrosis.

Chronic

There are also chronic cases of anhidrosis. When a person is consistently unable to sweat normally, there could be a genetic cause. Some people are born with gene abnormalities that cause problems with the development of their sweat glands. They may also have an inherited condition such as Fabry’s disease or Sjogren’s syndrome. Sometimes, anhidrosis is also caused by nerve issues and damage (known as neuropathy). Guillain-Barre syndrome and diabetes can both cause the type of nerve damage that could result in anhidrosis.

What are the Symptoms of Anhidrosis?

Common symptom

The most common symptom of anhidrosis is simply a lack of sweating, especially in situations in which they should be sweating.  This lack of sweating can be over the whole body or in smaller patches. Some people also sweat a little though not as much as normal while others do not sweat at all. Frequent overheating can also be a common issue with anhidrosis.

Symptoms include

This can include feeling hot, experiencing dizziness, and flushed skin. Muscle aches and cramps are also signs of anhydrosis.

Anhidrosis Causes

There are many reasons why an individual may stop being able to sweat.

Firstly, some drugs, such as antipsychotic medications, calcium-channel blockers, and anticholinergic drugs can stop sweat glands from functioning normally. Usually, the effects of the drugs are temporary and normal sweating can return after stopping the medications.

Secondly, sometimes anhidrosis is caused by clogged sweat ducts, often as a result of skin conditions such as psoriasis which can block the pores. Similarly, scarred skin, perhaps as a result of burns, cuts or surgeries, might cause the pores to be blocked or the sweat glands to have become damaged so that they cannot produce sweat.

Finally, nerve damage is occasionally to blame for anhidrosis, because the central nervous system helps to regulate temperature and sweating. Nerve damage could be caused by gout, diabetes, alcoholism and vitamin B deficiency.

How is Anhidrosis Treated?

When a person suffers from anhidrosis, treatment can depend on the cause of the condition. Anhidrosis due to severe dehydration can be remedied by steady fluid intake. Additionally, treatment can include reducing strenuous activity when it is hot or the person gets overheated. It is important to get treatment for heatstroke if it occurs and the body temperature rises too high and cannot or will not come down.

Anhidrosis Prevention

There isn’t necessarily anything anyone can do to prevent anhidrosis, unless the condition is caused by medications. In these instances, it may be possible to ask your doctor for alternative treatment methods for the underlying condition if the anhidrosis is very severe and difficult to cope with.

Individuals with anhidrosis can take steps to prevent themselves from becoming overheated since they cannot sweat to cool themselves naturally. Firstly, they should wear lightweight, loose clothing during warm weather or in warm environments. It might be helpful to dress in lots of light layers so that you quickly and easily cool the body down when you become too hot.

Secondly, it may be necessary to stay indoors or stay in the shade as much as possible on very hot days. Cool beverages and chilled foods may help to reduce body temperature in the height of summer.

Finally, people with anhidrosis can prevent becoming overheated by regulating their activity level and exercise. High-intensity sports such as running, for example, may not be suitable as they can quickly cause the body to overheat if sweating is not possible.

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Last Reviewed:
September 12, 2016
Last Updated:
November 08, 2017