Anhidrosis occurs when your sweat glands stop working, and this can happen for a number of reasons.

Nerve damage

Your autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary actions, such as digestion, heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperature. Injuries to your nerves that control this system can affect the functioning of your sweat glands.

Many illnesses can damage your autonomic nerves, including:

  • Ross syndrome, a peripheral nerve disorder
  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple system atrophy, a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder
  • Amyloidosis, caused by a buildup of substances called amyloid proteins in your organs
  • Sjogren's syndrome, which causes dry eyes and mouth
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Rare metabolic disorders, such as Fabry disease
  • Horner syndrome, which damages nerves in your face and eye

Skin damage

  • Clogged ducts. Skin diseases or conditions that block sweat ducts (poral occlusion) are the most common cause of anhidrosis.
  • Skin injuries. Physical injury to your skin, especially from severe burns, can permanently damage your sweat glands.

Certain medications

  • Many prescription medications — including some for heart and blood pressure, bladder control, nausea and psychiatric conditions — can reduce sweating.
  • Perspiration usually returns to normal when the medications are stopped.
  • If you develop anhidrosis after starting a new medication, let your doctor know.

Genetic factors

  • Some genetic disorders cause sweat glands to malfunction.
  • Hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, an inherited disorder, causes the body to develop with few, if any, sweat glands.

Dehydration

This occurs when your body doesn't have enough fluids to carry out its normal functions. In the most serious cases, dehydration can interfere with your ability to sweat.

Dehydration may be caused by:

  • An intense bout of diarrhea and vomiting
  • A very high fever
  • Excessive sweating without replacing lost fluids
  • Increased urination — often as a result of undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus
  • Alcohol and certain medications, such as diuretics, antihistamines, blood pressure medications and some psychiatric drugs
Feb. 15, 2012

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