Why does my child’s head sweat so much while he’s sleeping?

I see many mothers in my clinical practice who have noticed that their child is sweating excessively on their head while they sleep and ask me if this is normal. In some of these cases, the sweating is indeed abnormal. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes abnormal sweating (abnormal perspiration) is a clue of certain internal organ disorders.

1. What is Abnormal Head Sweating?

This quite often happens to young children, especially under 7 years old. In normal room temperature and normal clothing or bed cover, the child has excessive sweating at the back of their head, on their forehead and on the nose. Even the mother realises that she has to change the pillow after the child’s sleep. It can happen during the night or during their daytime sleeps. Long term abnormal sweating will affect childrens’ health and even development of the body. Parents should pay attention to this issue.

2. Causes of Abnormal Head Sweating

Due to the location of the sweating and the symptoms of the body, the following are common causes seen in the clinic:

i) Extra or excessive heat in the digestive system (the Stomach & Large Intestine):  

When children have excessive heat in the Stomach or Large Intestine, the heat will follow the channels and flow up to the head and the nose, forcing sweating in this area.

For this cause of sweating, the following additional symptoms may also be seen: red face and hot body while sleeping, will always want to kick off the blankets or covers, the child may be easily irritated, anxious or crying, abdominal bloating, constipation, irregular bowel movement, very smelly stool, in young children (under 6 months) the stool may be very green.

ii) Weakness in the Kidneys (especially Kidney Yin):

This type of abnormal sweating on the head usually happens to children under 3 years old and happens more during the night. The location of the sweating is mainly the back of the head or neck and can cause the pillow to be wet. For this type of long-term sweating, the hair at the back of the head reduces or thins out.

The body may also experience the following symptoms: skinny, dry stool, dry skin, increased thirst – craving water or fluids, some of the children can be calcium deficient. Traditional Chinese Medicine also calls this type of sweating “night sweating”.

3. How to Balance Diet & Lifestyle to help Abnormal Head Sweating

If your child has abnormal sweating, I suggest you pay attention to the following:

i) Avoid feeding children deep-fried and spicy food;

ii) Avoid eating too much at once, especially for dinner;

iii) Feed children earlier in the evening so that they’re not sleeping too soon after their meal;

iv) Children after 6 months old can eat certain amounts of fruit and vegetables;

v) Make sure the children have a bowel movement everyday;

vi) Make sure the room temperature and the covers or bed-clothes are suitable for the child while sleeping;

vii) Certain amount of outdoor exercise and drinking enough water (avoid freezing cold water);

If the abnormal sweating persists even after paying attention to the above mentioned suggestions for 1 month, you should get a general check by your GP doctor or see your experienced Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to find the cause. Usually 2 or 3 weeks of treatment can resolve the abnormal sweating and bring back your child’s health.

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