Does your body sweat normally? If not, it must be considered as a clinical concern. Some people lack appropriate sweating production due to abnormal functioning of the sweat glands. Inability to sweat normally is medically termed as hypohidrosis or anhidrosis. It can affect your entire body or is localized in certain parts of your body.

Sweating is the natural mechanism of cooling the body by allowing heat to release out of your body. If you’re unable to sweat normally, then it may cause overheating and leads to heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition.

The improper functioning of your sweat glands may cause hypohidrosis which might be due to certain underlying diseases or congenital conditions. The hypohidrosis causes include:

  • Inherited diseases such as Fabry’s disease
  • Connective tissue disorders such as Sjogren's syndrome
  • Damage to the skin such as burns, or conditions like psoriasis, exfoliative dermatitis, heat rash, scleroderma, or ichthyosis.
  • Conditions causing damage to the nerves such as diabetes, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, or Horner syndrome.
  • Drugs such as morphine, botulinum toxin type A, and antipsychotics.

People aged above 60 years, infants, and children are at increased risk of developing hypohidrosis. Mutations in certain genes that affect your sweat glands may also cause hypohidrosis.

In hypohidrosis, inability to sweat is itself the symptom. But, it can be accompanied by other signs and symptoms that include:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Flushing
  • Feeling overly hot

Sometimes, you may not notice mild hypohidrosis unless you perform strenuous exercise and may feel overheated because you’re unable to sweat normally.

If hypohidrosis is left untreated, it may lead to following complications:

  • Heat cramps : Heat cramps are the muscle spasms that stiffen the muscles in your legs, back, and the abdomen. These cramps can be painful and remains for prolonged periods.
  • Heat exhaustion : this condition may occur if you get too hot, and the symptoms worsen suddenly.
  • Heatstroke : This is a potentially life-threatening condition and may occur if your body temperature is 104°F. If heat stroke is not treated immediately, it may cause hallucinations, coma, and death.

Your doctor confirms the diagnosis based on the symptoms, medical history, physical examination, and certain tests. The tests include the following.

  • Axon reflex test : This test uses small electrodes to stimulate the sweat glands and then measures the volume of sweat produced.
  • Silastic sweat imprint : This test is used to determine where you sweat.
  • Thermoregulatory sweat test : During the test, your body is coated with a powder that changes its color where you sweat. Then, you enter a chamber where your body temperature reaches to the level that makes most people sweat.
  • Skin biopsy : The test involves removal of some skin cells or sweat glands and examined under the microscope.

There is no specific hypohydrosis treatment option because if it affects only small parts of your body, then you may not require any treatment. But, hypohidrosis over large areas may require treatment. If hypohidrosis is due to an underlying medical condition, then your doctor treats that condition.

  • To relieve heat cramps, you must rest down, drink fruit juice or seek medical care if the condition becomes worse.
  • Heat exhaustion can be treated by sponging with cool water and loosening the clothes or drinking cool beverages.