What is sweating?

Sweat (perspiration) is the watery fluid produced by the sweat glands in the skin. The purpose of sweating is to cool off the body by evaporation of the sweat.

Your teenager may be worried about underarm perspiration. Teenagers may be reassured that sweating normally increases with exercise and emotional stress, and this is never abnormal.

What causes sweating?

The most common cause of sweating is overheating due to hot weather, a hot room, overdressing, or too many blankets. When a child is covered up in bed, the only way to release heat is through the head. This may cause the pillow to become wet during sleep. Night sweats in a child who is otherwise well mean nothing. Sweat glands are found throughout the body, so your child’s bed may be wet from sweat in places other than his pillow.

Your child can sweat when he has a fever. Take your child’s temperature if you suspect he has a fever.

How can I take care of my child?

Turn down the heat in your home. Dress your child in lighter clothing for naps. Offer your child extra fluids in hot weather to prevent dehydration.

Sweat glands become more active at puberty and make sweat that smells different from the sweat children’s bodies make. Teens need to be introduced to underarm antiperspirants/deodorants to prevent body odor. For foot odors from too much perspiration, change socks and shoes during the day or use special shoe liners that absorb odors.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Call during office hours if:

  • Your baby is under 1 month old.
  • Your child has unexplained fevers (over 100°F, or 37.8°C).
  • Your child has unexplained weight loss.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-21
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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