A method has been worked out for the measurement of the volume of sweat produced by individual glands. A special paper, impregnated with iodine, absorbs water in a uniform way and shows the area of wetting by a sharply defined blue dot. Indirect calibrations showed that 1 cm.3 of water would form a spot of 700 cm.2 area, and that this relation of volume to area was a constant one over a wide range. The actual volumes encountered in prints of the sweat glands were from 5 x 10–9 to 4 x 10–6 cm.3.
The relative activity of glands at any instant of time can be expressed by the statistical distribution of log diameter of the dots on the print. This distribution, which might at first sight seem rather artificial, has the advantage of being unaffected by a proportionate change in the output of water from each gland. Thus it is independent of the duration of contact between print paper and skin, and of changes in the average flow from the field as a whole. It is sensitive only to changes in the activity of glands relative to each other.
The methods of printing and statistical analysis were used to study the relative activity of glands in a field of 22 mm. diameter. Glands of the forearm and back were studied both under direct stimulation with mecholyl and under the reflex stimulation of environmental heat, similar results being obtained with the two kinds of stimuli. Glands of the abdomen and leg, stimulated with mecholyl, were studied in one experiment.
Detailed comparison of the dots in consecutive prints showed that the large dots remained large and the small dots continued to be small. These persistent differences in the outflow of water from adjacent glands were interpreted as being due to differences in the functional power of the glands.
Repeated prints of the glands during a period of 75 minutes, in which the sweat flow was declining, showed that the relative activity of the glands remained constant. This meant that the set of glands, although differing greatly in power, varied together as a functional unit.
Different regions of the body show not only the variation of glandular power within each small area, but also marked differences in the average power of glands belonging to the different regions. Glands of the back, for instance, show a much greater outflow than glands of the forearm when stimulated equally with a local injection of mecholyl. Equal rates of outflow, therefore, do not mean equal states of functional activity, unless the regions being compared are of equal functional power.