Prince Andrew claims a condition stops him sweating – does the disorder exist?

Prince Andrew, pictured in Bangkok on November 3, 2019, claimed he doesn't sweat in his BBC Newsnight interview. [Photo: Getty]

Prince Andrew claimed he lost the ability to sweat in what critics are calling a “car crash” interview at the weekend.

The claim came as part of his defence against the allegation by Virginia Giuffre, née Roberts, that he had sex with her three times, twice when she was underage.

Mrs Giuffre claims she was the victim of sex trafficking by convicted offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in his jail cell in August while awaiting trial.

READ MORE: Spy chiefs worried Russia has evidence linking Prince Andrew to Epstein abuse

Denying ever having met her, Prince Andrew highlighted her claim that he was sweating “profusely” during their first alleged encounter.

“I didn't sweat at the time, because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falklands War when I was shot at,” he told the BBC.

Virginia Giuffre (right) claims the Royal had sex with her when she was 17. [Photo: Getty]

“It was almost impossible for me to sweat.”

Mrs Giuffre claims Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell “recruited” her while she was working as locker room assistant at a Florida resort owned by President Trump, the BBC reported.

Can you stop sweating?

The condition anhidrosis describes an inability to sweat normally, according to the Mayo Clinic.

With sweat being vital to regulating our body temperature, sufferers can overheat.

This can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition that arises when the body temperature reaches 39.5°C (103.1°F) or more.

Anhidrosis comes about when the sweat glands do not work properly. Some people are born with the condition if their glands fail to develop as they should.

Disorders like Fabry’s disease, which causes fat to build-up in the body’s cells, can also cause a “decreased ability to sweat”, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

Connective tissue diseases, such as Sjögren's syndrome, may also be to blame. Sjögren's affects the parts of the body that produce fluids, like sweat, tears and saliva.

Alcoholism and diabetes can also trigger nerve damage that ultimately leads to anhidrosis. Skin damage, for example burns or radiation exposure, can also be to blame.

And certain drugs, like morphine or anti-psychosis medication, may also affect the sweat glands.

READ MORE: Prince Andrew's PR adviser quit over 'disaster' BBC interview

The Mayo Clinic does not recognise “an overdose of adrenaline” as a trigger.

However, the Cleveland Clinic says “damage to the sweat glands from trauma” can occur.

“[Anhidrosis] can have external causes, including trauma to the skin or the nerves to the skin, and also certain medications,” said Prof Dorothy Bennett, from St George's Hospital in London. 

“Both of these are general possibilities during service in the Falklands, although I don’t know whether any specific medications given to servicemen can do this, nor whether Andrew suffered any such physical trauma at that time.”

Bennett speculated that the extreme cold temperatures Prince Andrew is likely to have endured while serving could trigger skin or nerve damage. However, she stressed that this was unclear.

Andrew joined the Navy in 1979, according to thedukeofyork.org.

In April 1982, he sailed on the HMS Invincible to the South Atlantic to regain the Falkland Islands.

During the conflict, the prince reportedly took part in several missions, including Anti-Submarine Warfare, search and rescue, and casualty evacuation.

He returned to Portsmouth in September 1982.

The Falkland Islands reportedly reach lows of 0°C (32°F) in June, according to Climates To Travel.

While it may sound farfetched, Bennett added the Prince’s explanation could hold some truth.

“Prince Andrew said his lack of sweating followed high adrenaline levels associated with being shot at,” she said.

“This is indeed a known mechanism.”

Scientists from the University of Florida, Gainesville, found the phenomenon can occur in horses when moved to hot climates.

Sweating is stimulated in the farm animals via the release of adrenaline, which circulates in their blood.

“Flaws in a sequence” could trigger anhidrosis in horses.

The scientists claim the “most likely possibility” is “inadequate sweat gland response due to habituation of receptors to a high circulating level of”.

“Habituation means here a normal response of sweating in response to epinephrine (adrenaline) is regulated downwards if there is excessive stimulation of the cellular receptor for epinephrine,” Professor Bennett said.

READ MORE: Spy chiefs worried Russia has evidence linking Prince Andrew to Epstein abuse

Adrenaline drives the “fight or flight response” that causes our heart rate to fasten, pupils to dilate and senses to become heightened when faced with danger.

Dr Christopher Rowland Payne, of The London Clinic, told the Mail on Sunday: “A very stressful event may result in all sorts of different consequences.

“In battle situations people can, of course, be extremely psychologically traumatised.

“It is certainly possible to develop psychogenic anhydrosis.”

Prof John Hawk of King’s College argued, however, this would likely lead to someone excessively sweating, rather than stopping altogether.

“It is certainly possible to have problems with sweating but an overdose of adrenaline would be more likely to make a person sweat more, not less,” he told the Express.

“Maybe there was a supplementary event that happened which he cannot remember.”

TV medic Dr Hilary is also “absolutely sceptical”, telling Good Morning Britain he has “never seen a case” of what Prince Andrew describes.

“As for the adrenaline thing in the Falklands, it doesn’t make sense, because sweating isn’t mediated by adrenaline, it’s mediated by acetylcholine,” Dr Hilary said.

Acetylcholine is a chemical compound that enables impulses to be transmitted within the nervous system.

The compound activates sweat glands and is often injected into patients to check their “sweat response”.

The Royal Family’s press team has been approached for comment.