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Hypohidrosis In Children

Updated on March 6, 2011

Put in the simplest terms possible, hypohidrosis is simply a Latin phrase for decreased perspiration. Actually, that's probably not the simplest way to say it, now that I think about it. Maybe it would be easier to say it just means that you don't sweat as much as you should. The reasons for this can vary greatly, and yes, there can be a serious underlying illness to blame. But sometimes there isn't, and that's what we're talking about today. Hypohidrosis as a freestanding symptom, if you will -- abnormally deficient sweating when everything else is functional. But please note: if you suspect that you or your child have this condition, you should see a doctor to rule out one of those illness I've just referred to. If you've already done that, read on for some signs of hypohidrosis and tips for dealing with it.

Signs Your Kid Might Have It

  • No sweating -- Sorry to state the obvious, but this is the main clue. The skin may be a bit shimmery and perhaps slightly damp, but sweating should be almost nonexistent. I could run outside in the Texas heat for an hour and I will not sweat. This may sound super, but it's quite the opposite.

  • Frequent Elevated Temperatures -- Sweating is the body's way of cooling off. If you don't sweat like a normal person, your body temperature is probably going to be slightly abnormal. My normal temperature as a child was about 99.9°. I wasn't ill, that was just my temp. Of course, this meant that I could take advantage of the school sick policy and pop in for a temp check if I wanted to go home for the day -- anything over 99° and they would send you home. Sadly, my mother caught onto this by the 3rd grade and I wasn't allowed to go home unless I was 100.5°. Ah, well.

  • Refusal to wear their winter coat -- Don't get me wrong, you can get cold if you have hypohidrosis. But, unless you live in the Arctic, most winter coats are overdoing it for a kid with hypohidrosis. They might like it when they first set out for school, but they'll have needed to take it off by the time they get there cos it will be way too hot. I lived in the NE as a child and we had plenty of snow in the winter; I often went without a coat or gloves and it really didn't bother me. That said, if I'd just been standing still in the snow, it would have felt cold. But walking to school was enough to make me quite hot.

  • Refusal to play active sports -- I did a lot of sports as a kid, but they weren't super active. I played softball, rode horses, swam -- things like that. But I hated to run (cross country, soccer, etc) because I would feel like I was having heat stroke by the time I was done. And guess what? It could have led to that -- but I didn't know I had this until I was in my 20s.

  • Red skin -- Before I'd realized I had this condition, I jogged. Occasionally. On the beach in NY where a breeze was enough to cool me off, and the ocean was there if I needed it. And then I moved to Texas and stupidly went about my routine in the sweltering Texas sun. After 1 hour I looked sun-burnt. Everywhere. The university nurse wanted to send me to the hospital because she thought I had severe burns. But when I woke up the next morning, I was my usual pale self. I'd simply overheated.
  • Fainting or swooning -- Get too hot and you'll either come close to passing out, or you simply will. If your kid is participating in normal sports but seems to be the only one overheating, this could be a symptom you want to get checked out.

What to do if you or your kid has it?

  • Educate your child and his teachers; few people are familiar with this. Make sure that everyone is aware that Johnny can actually pass out from the heat and don't force him to run cross country if he's not up to it. Of course, he might be up to it -- just ask him how it affects him and make sure he's not going red.

  • Realize that certain activities are out of your league and accept it. Unless you want to do them in an Arctic environment. And hey, maybe you do.

  • Don't overdress. Meaning, don't layer your kid in 3 shirts just because it's cold outside. If you really feel like he needs extra stuff, send it along, but let him decide when to put it on.

  • If bathwater makes the temp go up too much, make it lukewarm instead. Also, cold baths are a great way to cool everything off quickly.

  • Ice doesn't feel any better on us than it does on you -- so don't get crazy and think an ice bath is in order unless a doctor suggests it.

  • Make sure he has something cold to drink in the summer, especially if you live where it's hot. And make sure it's something he will drink! Don't send him to school with cold prune juice if the only thing he'll drink is cold milk.


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      Pam 6 years ago

      Wow! I feel for the parents I have read so far. I got to this page because I have been trying to figure out what is going on with my son. Our problems are nothing like I've been reading here and yet, my son does not sweat either. Actually, he has atopic dermatitis and just the humidity (East Texas) is enough to break him out, but I notice he gets a fine sheen on his skin and then nothing else. When its cooler, like yesterday, he rides his bike. He and his brother came in, the youngest was sweating buckets and my oldest, Zach, nothing. He was very red, and then began itching of course because he had the littlest amount of moisture sitting on his skin. I am wondering if he doesn't have some form of this ED as well as the atopic dermatitis.

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      Debbie 6 years ago

      To those of you with young children. I have not been diagnosed with this, but I do not sweat. Just an FYI, for me the sweat bacsically builds up under the skin, but can't pass through. A cold shower doesn't help me much at all, it can't get through the layers of heat. instaed a cold bath (for quite a while) will slowly cool the layers below the skin. I have had this since I was young. My mother and grandfather had it as well. Good luck!

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      Vickie Stephens 6 years ago

      I took my granddaughter to the doctor today because of a rash that was all over her body they looked like little pimples and some look like small circles and her cheeks were red and so was her chin. she is 17mo old the doctor said she had hydrosis, and that she doesn't sweat and she should stay out of excessive heat and there was no cure also she may grow out of this, that there was no treatment and it should clear up in a couple of days. I don't find anything on the web to support this, I think he is wrong with his diagnosis am I wrong or right???

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      Michelle 6 years ago

      I have a daughter that has never sweat before. Since she was 6 months old her first summer we noticed her skin was patchy and red and would feel hot to the touch but never saw a drop of sweat. We didn't think that much of it we would just keep her cool and watch her closely. As she got older we noticed more conditions to her skin. She has extremely sensitive skin and cant swim in certain pools (salt or ones with lots of chlorine). We have tried so many different bath washes, creams, suncreens you name it! Finally now after a couple of years of addressing this to local Drs. We have taken her to a specialist. She has been diagnosed with Miliaria. This is a common disorder of the eccrine sweat glands that often occurs in conditions of increased heat and humidity. Miliaria is thought to be caused by blockage of the sweat ducts, which results in the leakage of eccrine sweat into the epidermis or dermis.When she would get in the heat even 70 or up she woulld break out in a form of heat rash that feels like salt on the skin and can be itchy. We are looking into the cooling vest. I am so glad we never gave up and that finally made them test her for "sweating" because that showed she was not producing sweat. It is a serious condition and I encourage anyone who has noticed this is a child to keep at it until you get an answer.

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      Tabatha K 6 years ago

      Oops I meant if they aren't educated!

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      Tabatha K 6 years ago

      Hi. To the other 2 year old saw Dr Kincannon today at Arkansas Childrens Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. He's a dermatologist and we were impressed with him. He diagnosed my daughter with mild hypohidrosis. He said he has 1 kiddo that's severe and he must wear a cooling vest. This can be scary if the family, friends and schools etc are educated about the importance of keeping them cool!

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      tabatha 6 years ago

      please help, my daughter is 4 and has been having terrible hives since she was 2. she dosnt sweat at all, her skin is terribly dry. i had her allergy tested when she was 2 and nothing showed. she is 4 now and more and more she has problems. she cant play with her brother and sister 4 more than 5 minutes before she breaks out. she takes cold showers 8-10 times a day and still wants wet cold washclothes between. I have since gotten a new doctor for her and she has ordered a battery of blood testing as well as sending her to a nerologist. Honestly im happy but terrified at the same time. I have dealt with this on my own for 2 yrs. My family has been very supportive and has seen her condition multiple times. She was going to pre k but unfortunately i had to remove her from the class due to her constant break outs and abcences. The school called child protective services on me and stated that i was crazy and was inflicting this problem on my child. The lady from (cps) showed up to my home and my 4 yr old daughter was playing with her 2 yr old sister and broke out from head to toe within 3 minutes and looked like a lobster. i then asked the cps worker if i was crazy and she said absolutly not, i had shown her all of the results of the medical testing, as well as appointments and emergency room visits and she was shocked that the doctor she was seeing still would not give me a referral. she advised me to get a new doc as the old one stated to me and the cps worker that because she is not a medical professional that he wasn't going to just take her word for it. Finally we have a new doc and she is wonderful with her nad is trying to do as much as she can to help her, the doc even told me that i wasn't crazy and that unfortunately because annie has been having prolonged problems with this it is highly likely that it has caused some long term damage that my not be reversable. We are concerned with her health as when she has these breakouts her temp rises to extreme levels between 102 and 104 degrees f. I don't know what else to do for her. it scares me cause sometimes she passes out or throws up or has seizures from not being able to cool off. please help. if anyone has any ideas on how i can keep her cool so she can play with her siblings let me know. thankyou

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      Tracey 7 years ago

      My daughter is now 9 and has never sweat. She has seen specialists at 2 major children's hospitals and still no diagnosis. Nikki - I have run into the same problem with HED - drs say "I can tell a child with HED just by looking at her and she doesn't have it." We have test results with no sweat production, yet a punch biopsy of the scalp revealed normal sweat glands that are non-functioning. She's had one of the genetic tests - negative. Her pediatrician just said she could have a mild form of HED, but would have to revist specialists. She has normal teeth, but slow growing hair and almost non-exsistant growing nails. May I ask if you went to a major medical facility? We have been with Duke childrens and UNC... Would really love to be able to help her... it gets harder as they get older esp. without an "official" diagnosis. She overheated in PE last week and was denied water. grrr.

      Thank you, Isabella, for this article. It is impossibly difficult to find information regarding hypohidrosis in children. I've been fighting for and searching for an answer for 9 years....

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      Nikki 7 years ago

      I posted 13 months ago and I wanted to update: My daughter is now four and was diagnosed with hypohidrosis, ED. She was said to have a mild form, She doesn't sweat, or have oil on her skin or hair. She is orders to stay in temps below 70 and not play sports. I wish there was a cure!

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      Natalie 8 years ago

      I noticed over this summer that my baby never sweats. Like, ever. She's just about to turn two, but this was one hot summer and one too many times I thought we were ER bound. She turns almost purple and gets pretty lethargic (it only happened about twice before I caught on). It's SO nice to know that while my doc may shrug it off (she has an appt in two weeks) that it could be something to watch carefully. Thanks for the article and the comments!

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      Nan 8 years ago

      My young adult daughter also cannot sweat. She turns a ghastly green/gray in the heat, has trouble with unexplained fevers, and her hands and feet will suddenly be freezing cold (to the touch) out of the blue, in all weather. Nothing wrong with her hair or teeth, so we were told it wasn't one of the EDs - doctor never said there were over 150 EDs now... They still can't tell us what it is, been to two of everything. WIsh we knew what it was! Thanks for the article, people tend to not believe us when we have to go through the "no, she can't come to the party in your yard in august because..."

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      Nikki 8 years ago

      This is educational! My three year old doesn't sweat. I thought it was normal. I asked 3 doctors about it now and the last one listened to me. Two said it is normal to not sweat. My daughters skin turns really red and is hot to the touch. She will run fevers and turn white around her mouth. I was told because she has good hair and teeth she was fine. Is it possible to have this still? My daughter was referred to a specialist about this but we haven't been seen yet.