Dear Alice,

I have a wonderful daughter who is very active and loves to play soccer. The problem for her is that she never seems to sweat and her face turns bright red, which concerns us greatly. She loves to have her face cooled with a cold towel when she comes to the sideline. None of her other teammates seem to have this problem, however, and she seems to be normally hydrated before her games and practices. I've heard of the condition anhidrosis (lack of sweat), but can't seem to find much on this. Can you help?

Thank you.

Dear Reader,

Here’s some info to quench your thirst for knowledge: anhidrosis (also called hypohidrosis) is simply the medical name for a significantly decreased amount of sweating. A lack of perspiration, in and of itself, can be an indicator of a serious condition because sweating is the body's main way of getting rid of excess heat. A person who doesn't sweat (or doesn't sweat enough) can easily become overheated, experience heat cramps and exhaustion, and even have a heat stroke — a life threatening condition. Children are particularly vulnerable to the complications of anihdrosis, because their body temperatures rise more quickly and get rid of heat less efficiently than adults.

There are a range of health conditions that can cause anhidrosis, including the following possibilities:

  • Dehydration
  • Skin diseases or conditions that can block or clog sweat ducts
  • Injury to the skin and sweat glands, including burns
  • Use of certain medications
  • Inherited conditions that affect the metabolic system or that impact the development of sweat glands
  • Conditions associated with nerve damage, such as diabetes, alcoholism, or Guillain-Barre syndrome

Depending on the cause of the anhidrosis, treatments and prognosis can vary. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to work with a health care provider to determine the root cause of your daughter’s lack of sweating. They can do some investigating into your daughter’s condition, health history, and recommend specific and appropriate treatment. You can help mitigate some of the heat-related symptoms that you’ve described by encouraging frequent breaks, which may reduce the likelihood of becoming overheated during a soccer match or while engaging in other physical activities. You can also make sure that she’s drinking plenty of cool water, fruit juice, or sports drinks with electrolytes to help her stay cool and well hydrated when playing. The cold towel you mention using is another great idea. Lastly, if your daughter experiences any heat-related complications that do not improve with these methods, it may be necessary to seek out immediate medical attention.

Hope this helps you and your daughter beat the heat!

Alice!

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