An abnormal lack of sweat in response to heat may be harmful, because sweating allows heat to be released from the body. The medical term for absent sweating is anhidrosis.
Anhidrosis sometimes goes unrecognized until a substantial amount of heat or exertion fails to cause sweating.
Overall lack of sweating can be life threatening because the body will overheat. If the lack of sweating happens in a small area only, it is usually not as dangerous.
Cause of anhidrosis may include:
If there is a danger of overheating, take the following measures:
Call your health care provider if you have a general lack of sweating or an abnormal lack of sweating when exposed to heat or strenuous exercise.
The provider will perform a physical exam. In emergencies, the health care team will perform rapid cooling measures and give you fluids to stabilize you.
You may be asked about your symptoms and medical history.
You may be asked to wrap yourself in an electric blanket or sit in a sweatbox while the health care team watches your body's reaction. Other tests to cause and measure sweating may also be done.
A skin biopsy may be done. Genetic testing may be done if appropriate.
Treatment depends on the cause of your lack of sweating. You may be given medicine to cause sweating.
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.