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Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) In Toddlers: Causes And Treatment

Excessive Sweating In Toddlers

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Excessive sweating or sweating more than required to regulate the body temperature is called hyperhidrosis. Though it is normal in older children and teens, hyperhidrosis in toddlers and babies is uncommon, and it may be a symptom of underlying health problems. Seek medical attention if your baby, toddler, or preschooler is sweating excessively (1).

In this MomJunction post, we tell you more about the types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of hyperhidrosis in toddlers.

Is It Normal For A Toddler To Sweat?

It is normal for your toddler to sweat in warm or humid climates, and when they indulge in physical activity. Fever, cold, and flu may also increase sweating in babies and toddlers, although that resolves after the infection. While toddlers and babies don’t sweat as much as adults do, it is normal for your baby to sweat in situations where you are also sweating.

Types Of Excess Sweating

Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating can be of two types (2):

  • Generalized excessive sweating is sweating all over the body, which often leaves the clothes soaked in sweat.
  • Localized excessive sweating is sweating in only one part of the body, such as in the armpits, face, or neck.

Depending on the cause, hyperhidrosis can be divided into (3):

  • Primary hyperhidrosis is a rare disorder that results in excessive sweating only in the armpits, palms, and soles.
  • Secondary hyperhidrosis causes generalized sweating due to underlying diseases such as thyroid disorder, infection, or medication.

Causes Of Hyperhidrosis In Toddlers

Though it is not normal for a toddler to sweat excessively, it often happens due to over-bundling or overdressing your child. Many parents tend to make their toddlers wear warm clothes more often than required.

If you make your toddler wear warm clothes indoors and keep room heaters high, it may cause excessive sweating. Your child may also sweat more than usual due to anxiety and physical activity (4).

Some health problems that may cause hyperhidrosis in toddlers can be (5):

  1. Infections
  2. Hyperthyroidism
  3. Diabetes
  4. Hypertension
  5. Congestive heart failure
  6. Prescription drugs
  7. Other metabolic and hormonal disorders

Excessive sweating is not the only symptom of the medical conditions mentioned above. Contact your pediatrician for the examination of the other signs and symptoms to identify the possible causes of hyperhidrosis in your toddler. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Hyperhidrosis In Toddlers

You may notice excessive sweating in the following areas of the body (3):

  • Face
  • Palms or hands (palmar hyperhidrosis)
  • Underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis)
  • Scalp
  • Feet (plantar hyperhidrosis)
  • Hands

If the humidity and temperature are normal, the following can be the signs and symptoms of excessive sweating in toddlers (6):

  • Sweat on the face and arms of your baby
  • Clothing is soaked in sweat
  • Sweaty palms and feet

You may also notice that the toddler has wet palms that may interfere with their activity. These symptoms and signs can be normal if they are due to environmental factors or clothing. Also, sweating usually stops only during sleeping time.

Diagnosis Of Hyperhidrosis In Toddlers

It is recommended that you consult a pediatrician if your toddler has excessive sweating.  Excess sweating may indicate serious medical conditions in some children, although in most cases, it could be due to less worrisome causes. Only a thorough examination by the doctor can determine this.

Your doctor may evaluate the growth and development of your toddler and check if it meets the age-based requirements.

The pediatrician may also look for signs of all possible underlying causes of excessive sweating. If there is no specific medical condition contributing to sweating, your doctor may diagnose primary focal hyperhidrosis, considering the physical examination and health history (7). The diagnostic tests may include (2):

  • Starch-iodine test or Minor test: It involves the application of iodine solution on sweaty areas and sprinkling starch over it. If there is sweat, this will turn into a dark blue color.
  • Paper test: This uses a special paper that absorbs sweat. The weight of the paper is measured to see if it is
  • Laboratory tests: Blood and urine samples may be collected for analyzing hormonal and metabolic profiles to rule out medical conditions, causing excess sweating in toddlers.

How To Treat Excess Sweating In Toddlers?

Treatment for hyperhidrosis depends on the cause of disease. Addressing the underlying medical conditions may help resolve secondary or generalized hyperhidrosis in toddlers. Toddlers with excessive hyperhidrosis require specific treatments varying from topical creams to certain procedures.

According to the type and location of sweating, your doctor may recommend any of the following treatments for primary hyperhidrosis (7):

  • Antiperspirants: They block the sweat ducts and prevent sweating. Xerac AC and Drysol are antiperspirants commonly prescribed for children.
  • Iontophoresis (no sweat machine): It is a non-painful treatment, using a medical device, commonly prescribed to treat sweaty palms.
  • Anticholinergic medications: They may help to stop sweat production and improve the quality of life.

Botulinum toxin injections, surgical removal of the sweat glands, sympathectomy, and hand-held medical devices that destroy sweat glands are the effective treatments for hyperhidrosis in later ages (7) (8) (9).

If excessive sweating is not due to a medical condition, you may follow a few tips to prevent it.

Preventing Hyperhidrosis In Toddlers

The following tips may help to prevent excessive sweating in your toddler:

  • Use appropriate clothing according to the climatic conditions and the environment
  • Keep room temperature normal
  • Do not keep warm blankets and bedsheet in a baby crib, unless it is cold
  • Check for fever
  • Use breathable clothes in summer
  • Sweatproof clothing can be used for outdoor activity
  • Follow doctor’s prescriptions as recommended

Primary hyperhidrosis is usually managed using antiperspirants or anticholinergic medication in toddlers, as it may not go away with age. Your doctor may recommend surgical removal or laser destruction of sweat glands in later ages. Secondary hyperhidrosis can be resolved by treating underlying medical conditions. It is important to treat excessive sweating in toddlers to avoid complications such as miliaria (sweat rash) and dehydration.

Does your child also suffer from excessive sweating? What treatment did the doctor suggest?  Share your experience with us.

References:

1. Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually; The Food and Drug Administration
2. Tanja Schlereth, et al.; Hyperhidrosis—Causes and Treatment of Enhanced Sweating; Deutsches Ärzteblatt International
3. Excessive sweating; The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
4. Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating); SickKids
5. Hyperhidrosis of palms and soles; DermNet; New Zealand
6. Hyperhidrosis; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
7. Isabelle Thomas, et al.; Palmoplantar Hyperhidrosis: A Therapeutic Challenge; The American Academy of Family Physicians
8. Amanda-Amrita D. Lakraj, et al.; Hyperhidrosis: Anatomy, Pathophysiology and Treatment with Emphasis on the Role of Botulinum Toxins; Toxins 2013
9. Hyperhidrosis: Diagnosis and treatment; The American Academy of Dermatology

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