Thermogenic and psychogenic sweating in humans: Identifying eccrine glandular recruitment patterns from glabrous and non-glabrous skin surfaces
In this experiment, psychogenic (mental arithmetic), thermogenic (mean body temperature elevation of 0.6 °C) and combined thermo-psychogenic treatments were used to explore eccrine sweat-gland recruitment from glabrous (volar hand and forehead) and non-glabrous skin surfaces (chest). It was hypothesised that each treatment would activate the same glands, and that glandular activity would be intermittent. Nine individuals participated in a single trial with normothermic and mildly hyperthermic phases. When normothermic, a 10-min arithmetical challenge was administered, during which sudomotor activity was recorded. Following passive heating and thermal clamping, sweating responses were again evaluated (10 min). A second arithmetical challenge (10 min) was administered during clamped hyperthermia, with its sudorific impact recorded. The activity of individual sweat glands was recorded at 60-s intervals, using precisely positioned, and uniformly applied, starch-iodide papers. Those imprints were digitised and analysed. Peak activity typically occurred during the thermo-psychogenic treatment, revealing physiologically active densities of 128 (volar hand), 165 (forehead) and 77 glands.cm−2 (chest). Except for the hand (46%), glands uniquely activated by one treatment were consistently <10% of the total glands identified. Glandular activations were most commonly of an intermittent nature, particularly during the thermogenic treatment. Accordingly, we accepted the hypothesis that psychogenic, thermogenic and thermo-psychogenic stimuli activate the same sweat glands in both the glabrous and non-glabrous regions. In addition, this investigation has provided detailed descriptions of the intermittent nature of sweat-gland activity, revealing that a consistent proportion of the physiologically active glands are recruited during these thermal and non-thermal stimuli.