Sweatingoccurs due to eccrine glands, that is, sweat glands. These glands help to keep the body cool in face of excess temperature, either of the body or the environment. Babies, as such, tend to sweat more. This occurs due to multiple reasons. Babies have more sweat glands in the head as compared to the rest of the body; hence a baby seems to sweat more.
The body’s temperature regulating system of a baby is slow to adaptation as compared to an adult; hence, in response to excess heat or humidity, after some time a baby may sweat a lot.
Apart from light clothes, in hot weather, a baby also needs fans and air conditioners, that is, external devices to keep cool. Many parents fear to put on a full fan or air conditioner for a baby, fearing that he/she may feel cold. This is not true. In a very hot weather, babies need same kind of clothes and environment as an adult. Otherwise he/she may sweat a lot.
Among disease conditions, a baby may sweat excessively due to congenital diabetes or a thyroid disorder. Certain genetic disorders of amino acid metabolism in babies can cause excess sweating as one of the manifestations. Liver and or kidney diseases are serious conditions that can cause excess sweating as one of the manifestations of the disease. Here, there would be other predominant symptoms of the underlying disease like, swelling over face and body, scanty urination, yellow discoloration of eyes, nausea and or vomiting and etcetera.
Tumours of the pituitary, hypothalamus and some other brain tumours have excess sweating in infants as one of the symptoms. Any of these disease conditions, can be diagnosed by suitable, relevant investigations. Majority of them are treatable. Any acute infection, whether bacterial or viral, is accompanied by fever. Fever in any form makes the body feel hot and causes sweating when it comes down. Recent sweating in a baby should alert one to the possibility of an acute fever and he should be suitably investigated and treated.
If the baby is otherwise healthy, feeds well, plays well, sleeps well, is not cranky or irritable, is putting on suitable weight and growing well with age, there is nothing to worry about if she sweats a lot. However, if any of these signs of good health is missing or it seems otherwise, it is better to consult a paediatrician as to why the baby sweats a lot.
Dr. Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine.