Hyperhidrosis in Young Children

The Causes of Excessive Sweating

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Are you concerned your child sweats too much? Unlike older children and teens, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweat) in younger children isn't common. It can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying health problem.

Let's take a look at what you should know about excessive sweating in children.

Causes of Excessive Sweating in Young Children

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Types of Excessive Sweating

There are two different types of excessive sweating.

These include:

  • Generalized excessive sweating happens all over the body. It can result in your clothes becoming soaked.
  • Local excessive sweating happens in only one region, such as in the armpits or only on the face and neck.

The origin of excess sweating also helps define it:

  • Primary hyperhidrosis is a stand-alone condition not linked to other medical conditions. With this type, the sweating is only in the armpits, palms of the hands, and feet. It affects 1% to 3% of the population.
  • Secondary hyperhidrosis happens as a symptom of another condition, like thyroid disorder. The whole body will sweat too much, rather than one specific area.

Symptoms

Excessive sweating in preteens and teens is quite common. They often have sweaty palms, feet, or armpits. Their faces might also sweat too much.

Young children don't often sweat excessively. If the heat and humidity are high, then sweating is completely normal. You can often get an idea of whether your child should be sweaty based on if you're sweating yourself.

If you notice that your child's face and arms are sweaty even in a comfortable, mild environment or they're frequently sweating and soaking through their clothes, you should talk to their doctor about it.

If your baby, toddler, or elementary-age child appears to sweat heavily, it's important to make an appointment to see their pediatrician.

Causes

The possible causes of excessive sweating in young children can range from normal to serious.

A common cause is over-bundling or overdressing your child or keeping your home too warm. In general, you should dress babies similar to adults in the home. Yet many parents bundle their children much more than they bundle themselves.

Other "normal" causes of hyperhidrosis include anxiety, a fever, or physical activity. With young children, you're probably familiar with the amount of sweat typical when they're active.

Some more serious causes of excessive sweating in young children include:

  • Infections: Any type of infection—mild or severe—may lead to excess sweating. Sometimes sweating is the only symptom with low-grade or "smoldering" infections (that get worse over time), like tuberculosis (a contagious disease of the lungs).
  • Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) may cause excess sweating. Sweating may be the only symptom, or your child may also experience weight loss, fast heartbeat, and anxiety.
  • Diabetes: Excessive sweating can be a symptom of diabetes. A child with diabetes may also be thirstier, pee more than usual, or lose weight. Their sweat may smell like acetone (nail polish remover).
  • High blood pressure: Certain medications can cause high blood pressure in children. The rise in blood pressure can make them sweat more. Rare disorders, like pheochromocytoma (a tumor of the adrenal gland) or neuroblastoma (a brain tumor), can have the same effect,
  • Congenital heart disease: Babies with heart problems usually have other symptoms along with excess sweating. They get tired easily during feedings, have a fast breathing rate, cough often, and have poor weight gain.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia: Supraventricular tachycardia may cause sweating in infants and children
  • Prescription drugs: Some prescription medications can cause generalized (whole-body) sweating.
  • Other metabolic and hormonal disorders

Diagnosis

If your child seems to sweat excessively, it's important to see their pediatrician. Excess sweating doesn't mean that your child has a serious medical condition. Many children who have excessive sweating are healthy. Still, since hyperhidrosis can be an early symptom of several health conditions, it's best to have it checked out.

As part of the evaluation, your child's pediatrician will consider the pace of your child's growth and development. Then they will carefully examine your child and may do some blood tests.

Treatment

Treatment options depend on the type and cause of your child's hyperhidrosis.

Does your child have secondary, generalized hyperhidrosis that affects the whole body? If so, the approach is to find and treat the underlying cause of the sweating, rather than to treat the sweating (the symptom) itself.

Or your child may have primary hyperhidrosis that affects localized (specific areas).

You have several treatment options if that's the case:

  • Topical preparations
  • Anticholinergic medications
  • Iontophoresis
  • Botox

For preteens and teens, treatment may help with sweaty (and smelly) feet.

Summary

Excessive sweating during childhood can be caused by dressing in clothes that's too heavy, lots of physical activity, or an infection. But consistent issues with unusual sweating during childhood can indicate an underlying medical cause, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, heart condition, or a tumor. It is important to make an appointment with your child's pediatrician if you notice that they are sweating a lot. Most causes can be effectively treated, especially if they are diagnosed early.

A Word From Verywell

Unlike older children, excess sweating in younger children is uncommon. If your baby, toddler, or elementary-age child has excess sweating, it doesn't mean there's anything seriously wrong with them. But it is a signal to talk to your pediatrician. That way you can make sure you are dressing them properly, maintaining a healthy temperature at home, and that they are getting proper treatment if they need it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes excessive sweating at night in young children?

    Sweating, especially on the head, is common for babies and young children at night. It's usually a result of a warm environment but is sometimes caused by a medical condition. Check with your pediatrician if it continues or if your child has other symptoms, like a fever.

  • How can you treat hyperhidrosis?

    It depends on the type of hyperhidrosis—primary (no other condition) or secondary (a result of a medical condition).


    Treatment for secondary hyperhidrosis focuses on the underlying medical condition that causes it.


    Children with primary hyperhidrosis may need antiperspirants, anticholinergics, or Botox treatment to help "turn off" the body's sweat glands. Your doctor may also recommend iontophoresis. This is a procedure that uses mild electrical currents to reduce sweating in the hands or feet.


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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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