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Anhidrosis

Definition


Disease: Anhidrosis Anhidrosis
Category: Dermatological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Anhidrosis, also called hypohidrosis, is the inability to sweat normally, which can be a life-threatening condition.
The body can’t cool itself when a person doesn't perspire, leading to overheating and sometimes to a potentially fatal condition known as a heatstroke.

Mild anhidrosis often goes unrecognized, because anhidrosis is a condition that is difficult to diagnose.
Skin trauma and certain diseases and medications, as well as other dozens of factors can cause anhidrosis, but in some cases, the cause of this condition is never found.
Treatment for anhidrosis usually involves addressing the underlying cause.

Work Group:


Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

Little or no perspiration is the primary sign of anhidrosis, which can occur:

 

  • In a single area
  • Over most of the body
  • In scattered patches


It is possible to sweat profusely on one part of the body and very little or not at all on another, because unaffected areas sometimes try to compensate by producing too much perspiration.
This condition can develop either on its own, or as one of several signs and symptoms of another disorder, such as psoriasis or diabetes.
When anhidrosis affects a large portion of the body, it prevents proper cooling and causes heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke in case of a vigorous exercise, hard physical work or hot weather. Some of the signs and symptoms of this condition are:

 

  • Little or no perspiration
  • Flushing
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Hallucinations, coma or death in the most severe cases.

Causes:

Eccrine glands and apocrine glands are the two types of sweat glands in the skin:

Eccrine glands:
These glands cover most of the body and open directly onto the surface of the skin. The autonomic nervous system stimulates the eccrine glands to secrete perspiration when a person’s core temperature rises, and as the perspiration evaporates from the surface of the skin, it cools the person.

Apocrine glands:
These glands develop in areas filled with hair follicles, such as your armpits, scalp and groin.
In people with anhidrosis, the body can’t cool itself normally because some or even most of the sweat glands stop working. There are many reasons for this condition, such as:

Nerve damage:
Any injury to the nerves that control the autonomic nervous system can affect the functioning of the sweat glands, because this system regulates digestion, heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperature.
Alcoholism; diabetes; Parkinson’s disease; amyloidosis, a serious disease that occurs when substances called amyloid proteins build up in the organs; Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes dry eyes and mouth; and small cell lung cancer, as well as other illnesses can damage the autonomic nerves.
Anhidrosis is a sign of Ross syndrome, which is a peripheral nerve disorder.
Horner syndrome, a condition that damages nerves in the face and eye, usually causes anhidrosis on the affected side of the face. Additionally, there are two rare metabolic disorders, Fabry’s disease and Tangier disease, which are also associated with anhidrosis.

Skin damage:
A person's sweat glands can be permanently damaged by physical injury to the skin, especially from severe burns. There are also some skin conditions that can clog or block the sweat glands, such as hidradenitis suppurativa, much as an antiperspirant does.

Certain medications:
Certain prescription medications can reduce sweating. However, sweating usually returns to normal once the medication is stopped. These medications include:

 

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and amoxapine
  • Anticholinergics, such as oxybutynin
  • Certain antipsychotic medications, including thioridazine and haloperidol


Dehydration:
This condition occurs when the body doesn’t have enough fluids to carry out its normal functions. Dehydration is common when someone has an intense bout of diarrhea and vomiting, a very high fever, or when they sweat excessively and don’t replace lost fluids. In the most serious cases, dehydration can interfere with a person's ability to sweat.
Also, when you have increased urination due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus, dehydration can occur.
Dehydration can also be caused by alcohol and certain medications, such as blood pressure medications, antihistamines, diuretics and some psychiatric drugs.

Genetic factors:
Usually, genetic disorders cause normal sweat glands to malfunction, but there are children with an inherited disorder called hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, in which they are born with none or very few sweat glands.

Complications

Complications:

The most serious complications of anhidrosis are heat-related illnesses. Because the core temperature of children rises faster than an adult’s and they dissipate heat less efficiently, they will be more vulnerable to developing this condition. Although all children should be monitored closely for overheating, but extra precautions should be taken when a child has anhidrosis. Some of the heat-related problems are:

Heat exhaustion:
After strenuous exercise, a person may experience some of the symptoms of this condition, such as nausea, weakness and a rapid heartbeat. Because symptoms can become worse quickly, anyone with heat exhaustion should be monitored carefully.

Heat cramps:
These are muscle spasms that can tighten the muscles in the legs, arms, abdomen and back, and are usually more painful and prolonged than typical nighttime leg cramps.

Heatstroke:
When someone's body temperature reaches 104F (40C) or higher, this life-threatening condition occurs. Heatstroke can cause hallucinations, loss of consciousness, coma and even death if left untreated.

Treatments:

Anhidrosis that affects a small part of your body usually isn't a problem and doesn't need treatment. Large areas of decreased perspiration, however, can be life-threatening. Anhidrosis treatment usually focuses on the cause of the problem rather than on anhidrosis specifically.
To prevent symptoms from becoming worse, anyone who is overheated needs prompt treatment.

In case of heat cramps to relieve the cramping a person should try:

 

  • Resting and cooling down
  • Drinking a sports drink that contains electrolytes or a cool fruit juice
  • Gently massaging tight muscles
  • Getting medical care in case cramps become worse or don’t go away in an hour


A person should act quickly in case someone around them develops symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as nausea, dizziness and a rapid heartbeat. They should:

 

  • Move the affected person to an air-conditioned or shady place and elevate his\her legs slightly.
  • Loosen his\her clothing
  • Give the person a cool, not ice, drink of water or a sports drink that contains electrolytes
  • Spray or sponge the person with cool water
  • In case the symptoms don’t improve quickly, call the local emergency number


Immediate medical care is required for heatstroke, but until help arrives a person should:

 

  • Move the affected person to an air-conditioned or shady place.
  • To cool the person, spray the skin with water or wrap him/her in wet towels or sheets, and use a fan or newspaper to increase air circulation.
  • Place ice packs on the head, neck and groin

Prognosis:

Not Available

Expert's opinion

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