Anhidrosis is a condition in which your sweat glands don’t function as they should to remove heat and cool your body down. An overheated body can be a dangerous situation and even life-threatening. If you notice that you don’t sweat at all or very little on hot days during activities that normally cause sweating, talk with your healthcare provider.
Anhidrosis is a condition in which you can’t sweat (perspire) normally in one or more areas of your body. Sweating helps remove heat from your body so you can cool down. If you can’t sweat, your body overheats, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
It’s not known how many people have anhidrosis. Many people with mild cases may not notice they aren’t sweating or may not go to their healthcare providers.
If you have anhidrosis, your sweat glands do not work properly. There are many possible causes. Some people are born with the condition, others develop it later in life.
Other known causes of anhidrosis include:
Many medications interfere with sweat gland function. Anticholinergic medications are the most common drug-related cause of anhidrosis. Examples of anticholinergics include glycopyrrolate (Cuvposa®, Robinul®), doxepin (Silenor®, Zonalon®), atropine (Atropen®), cyproheptadine and hyoscyamine (Levsin/SL®, Hyosyne®). Other drug classes and examples include:
Signs and symptoms of anhidrosis include:
You may lack the ability to sweat in specific areas of your body, or the lack of sweating may be all over. Another pattern of anhidrosis is lack of sweat or very little sweat in certain body areas, but heavy sweating in other body areas. This happens because your body is trying to make up for the lack of sweat in one or more other body areas. Usually this is not a dangerous situation because your body is still able to cool off.
Make an appointment to see your healthcare provider. Talk about your inability to sweat and other symptoms you have.
If you experience these symptoms in a heated environment, get out of the heat immediately and move into a shaded area or indoors, preferably with air-conditioning. Loosen your clothes and, if possible, apply cool damp cloths to your body. Seek medical attention if your symptoms don’t get better as you cool down.
Severe cases of anhidrosis, where most or all of your body doesn’t sweat, may result in serious heat-related illnesses including:
Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your lack of ability to sweat. You may also be asked to undergo a sweat test. In this test, you are coated with a powder that changes color where you sweat. You are moved into a chamber to make you perspire to see which parts of your body sweat.
You may have a skin biopsy performed to look for nerve fiber damage to determine a possible cause of anhidrosis. You may have other tests to try to determine other underlying causes of your anhidrosis.
If the anhidrosis is caused by a medication, it may be reversible if you stop the medication. Do not stop your medication without speaking to your healthcare provider first. If a medical condition is causing your anhidrosis, that condition may be treatable. If no other medical cause is found, treatment for anhidrosis may be limited to avoiding situations where lack of sweating causes a health problem, such as heat-related illness.
Anhidrosis can’t be prevented but you can do things to keep yourself from overheating, including:
Anhidrosis is usually a life-long condition. However, your prognosis depends on if an underlying cause can be found and if the cause is treatable. Treating the underlying medical condition should improve anhidrosis. If your anhidrosis is caused by a medication, anhidrosis is usually reversible when that medication is discontinued.
The most important things you can do if you have a diagnosis of anhidrosis are to:
See your healthcare provider:
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop signs or symptoms of heatstroke (see complications above).
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/19/2021.
Learn more about our editorial process.