Diagnosis

Your doctor is likely to suspect anhidrosis based on your signs and symptoms, your medical history, and a physical exam. But you may need certain tests to confirm the diagnosis. These include:

  • Sweat test. During this test, known as a thermoregulatory sweat test, you're coated with a powder that changes color when and where you sweat. You then enter a chamber that causes your body temperature to increase to a level that makes most people perspire. Digital photos document the results, and the whole body surface can be tested at once.
  • Skin biopsy. In some cases, your doctor might request a biopsy of the area suspected of anhidrosis. For this test, skin cells and sometimes sweat glands are removed for examination under a microscope.

Treatment

Anhidrosis that affects a small part of your body usually isn't a problem and doesn't need treatment. But large areas of decreased perspiration can be life-threatening. Treatments may depend on the condition that's causing the anhidrosis. For example, if medications are causing the condition, discontinue taking that drug, if possible. If clogged sweat ducts are causing the condition, cleaning the skin with a gentle exfoliant might help.

Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. You may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist).

Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Be aware of pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if you need to do anything to prepare, such as modifying your diet.
  • Write down your symptoms, including ones that seem unrelated to your reason for scheduling an appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
  • List all medications, vitamins and supplements you take.
  • Ask a family member or friend to come with you to help you remember information you're given.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For anhidrosis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Why don't certain parts of my body sweat?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What caused this condition?
  • Will I always have this condition?
  • What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
  • How can I best manage this condition with my other health conditions?
  • Should I restrict activities?
  • Do you have any brochures or other printed material for me? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions, as well.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you notice you weren't sweating?
  • What parts of your body don't perspire?
  • Are you aware of others in your family with similar symptoms?
  • Do you have other symptoms?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Did symptoms begin when you changed a medication or were diagnosed with another illness?
April 04, 2018
References
  1. Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Disorders of the eccrine sweat glands and sweating: Introduction. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Dec. 14, 2017.
  2. Bolognia JL, et al., eds. Disease of the eccrine and apocrine sweat glands. In: Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 14, 2017.
  3. Tay LK, et al. Acquired idiopathic anhidrosis: A diagnosis often missed. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2014;71:499.
  4. Kliegman RM, et al. Disorders of the sweat glands. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 14, 2017.
  5. Tips for preventing heat-related illness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.html. Accessed Dec. 14, 2017.
  6. Warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html. Accessed Dec. 20, 2017.
  7. Parents' and coaches' guide to dehydration and other heat illnesses in children. National Athletic Trainers' Association. https://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/Heat-Illness-Parent-Coach-Guide.pdf. Accessed Dec. 20, 2017.