Anhidrosis, the inability to sweat normally

Anhidrosis it is a condition characterized by an abnormal lack of sweat in response to heat. The sweat glands do not produce sweat or they do it in an insufficient amount. It also obeys other names such as hypohidrosis, adiaphoresis, oligohidrosis, etcetera.

Anhidrosis can affect the entire body to only one part. It is a rare pathology that, at times, can be difficult to diagnose.

However, it is important to be aware of its possible symptoms as it can be fatal. Without sweating, the body can not lower its temperature and could reach excessive heat. In this article we explain what anhidrosis is and what are its causes.

Why does anhidrosis occur?

There are numerous causes of anhidrosis. The most common is that it is due to skin trauma, that is, burns, infections or other injuries. It can also be caused by medications such as morphine or Botox.

Others factors that cause anhidrosis are:

  • Congenital diseases There are certain dysplasias that affect the development of the sweat glands. The most prominent case is hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia. Other ectodermal structures such as skin, hair and teeth are affected in it.
  • Metabolic diseases. For example, Fabry's disease.
  • Damage to the skin. As we mentioned, anhidrosis can be due to Burns. But, in addition, radiotherapy or diseases such as psoriasis can also cause it.
  • Nerve injuries Pathologies that damage the nerves (neuropathies), such as diabetes or Guillain-Barré syndrome, cause the dysfunction of the sweat glands.

It should also be noted that Anhydrosis can occur due to dehydration. Similarly, it can be caused by Sjögren's Syndrome, characterized by dry mucous membranes and eyes.

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Symptoms of anhidrosis

The main symptom of anhidrosis is the absence of sweat or its shortage. In addition, other symptoms may occur such as dizziness and heat sensation, since sweating is the body's way of regulating temperature.

In the same way, Muscle cramps can occur, weakness and redness in some areas of the body, mainly on the face and neck.

There are two types of anhidrosis, depending on its extension in the body:

  • Partial anhidrosis: occurs in a certain area. It may be that in healthy areas more sweat than normal occurs.
  • Total anhidrosis: it occurs in the whole body. In this case, the symptoms are much more serious. Exercise and heat can produce a heat stroke in these people.


Heat stroke occurs when the body exceeds 40ºC. It is an urgent situation because, if left untreated, it can cause damage to different organs or even death.

At first, it causes confusion, delirium, nausea and vomiting. Breathing speeds up, as does heart rate. We must act as soon as possible to reduce body temperature and thus avoid the dysfunction of the organism.

Notably children are very vulnerable to heat shocks. This is because their internal temperature increases faster than that of adults. In addition, they release heat less effectively. Therefore, we must pay attention to these cases.

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How is it diagnosed?

As we mentioned before, Anhidrosis is usually a difficult pathology to diagnose. To do so, it is necessary for the doctor to make a good clinical history and know all the symptoms.

Further, you can perform complementary tests as a sweat analysis. This consists of covering the patient with a powder that changes color in contact with sweat. He is introduced to a camera that increases body temperature and observes whether or not sweating through digital photographs.

A biopsy of the skin can also be carried out, although it is a more invasive technique. It is usually performed in patients who only have partial anhidrosis.

Treatment of anhidrosis

The treatment will depend on the cause of the anhidrosis. When it is due to a medication, it is necessary to suspend it. When the cause of anhidrosis is an obstruction, sometimes, the use of exfoliants serves to unblock the sweat ducts.

The most common is that it can not be prevented, but there are certain measures that can prevent a heat stroke, for example. First, It is essential to wear light clothing and avoid sun exposure and intense physical activity on hot days. You can also use a water sprayer to cool down.

When the anhidrosis is partial, it does not usually give problem nor need treatment. Even so, it is advisable to consult with the specialist so that he is the one who evaluates the case.

In conclusion

There are several reasons why anhidrosis can occur and often goes unnoticed. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned, Do not hesitate to see your doctor. He will do the relevant exams and will propose the treatment or the necessary measures to combat it.