This Woman Literally Sweats Blood And Doctors Are Baffled By Her Condition


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By Korin Miller; photographs by

She was diagnosed with a rare (but very real) disease.

You probably don’t think much about your sweat—it’s clear and totally normal for it to show up when you’re overheated. At least, that’s the case for most people. But one young woman in Italy actually sweats blood and ended up in a medical journal because of it.

A case study published in  details the story of a 21-year-old woman who was admitted to a medical ward with a three-year history of bleeding from her palms and face, even though she had no visible cuts or skin lesions. “There was no obvious trigger for the bleeding, which could occur while she was asleep and during times of physical activity,” the report says, although doctors noted that the woman said she had more intense bleeding when she was stressed out. Each bleeding episode lasted from one to five minutes and then ended on their own.

Watch: Why Do Some People Sweat Way More Than Others?

An unusual condition causes a young woman to sweat blood *gated

— CMAJ (@CMAJ)

The woman became “socially isolated” because she was embarrassed about the bleeding and even developed symptoms of a major depressive disorder and panic disorder.

Doctors analyzed her skin where the bleeding happened and couldn’t find anything unusual, and blood tests didn’t find anything off, either.

The woman was diagnosed with hematohidrosis, a (rare) disease that can cause patients to sweat blood. Doctors treated her depression and panic disorder with paroxetine, an anti-depressant, and clonazepam, and anti-anxiety medication. For the bleeding, they prescribed propranolol, a beta-blocker that’s used for people with heart conditions.

Watch: 4 Ways To Keep Your Sweat Sessions From Messing With Your Skin

This has happened before. One case study published in the  in 2013 details a 12-year-old girl who suffered from hematohidrosis while a 2010 report published in the  talked about a 10-year-old boy who experienced it.

The case study authors point out that doctors haven’t found a single source of hematohidrosis, but there are some theories. One is that blood may pass through the sweat glands thanks to abnormal constrictions and expansions but the authors say that theory hasn’t been proven. It’s also been theorised that people who suffer from hematohidrosis just have blood-filled spaces that open directly into the skin.

Unfortunately, doctors weren’t able to cure the woman of her bleeding. While medication helped reduce it, it didn’t stop it altogether.

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