Prince Andrew made an astonishing claim in a “car crash” interview with the BBC that he was unable to sweat.
The Duke of York used the bizarre defence to deny allegations that he was “profusely sweating” while dancing in a nightclub with Virginia Roberts, who was 17 at the time.
She claimed the Prince’s friend, American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, then forced her to sleep with the royal.
During the televised interview with Emily Maitlis, Prince Andrew claimed that being “shot at” while serving as a helicopter pilot during the Falklands War had caused him to develop a medical condition called anhidrosis.
He said: “I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at… it was almost impossible for me to sweat.”
But is it biologically possible to be unable to sweat?
We asked Dr Anton Alexandroff, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesman, to look at the science behind Prince Andrew’s claims…
Why do we sweat?
We sweat to cool down. Sweat evaporates and cools the body temperature down.
Without sweat, we would overheat.
Is it beneficial to sweat?
Yes, to avoid overheating. There are a rare genetic conditions when people are not able to sweat. They are at risk of dying from overheating.
What happens when we sweat excessively?
It’s inconvenient. About 5% of people sweat excessively and this is called hyperhidrosis.
It’s also embarrassing. For example, people with hyperhidrosis may have to change clothes multiple times a day.
They may become embarrassed when shaking hands with new people and in severe cases it can affect everyday tasks that others take for granted, such as their hands being too sweaty to grip a pen.
Is it possible to lose the ability to sweat (eg. after moments involving severe adrenaline or trauma)?
Yes. If nerves are damaged then a person may lose the ability to sweat eg. in an arm, leg or another area of the body.
It is rare for a person to lose the ability to sweat altogether. This can be because of brain problems, sweat gland problems or for an unknown reason.
It would also be possible to stop sweating due to a surge of adrenaline, like in the case of Prince Andrew.