A case described in the Canadian Medical Journal on Monday, Oct. 23, reveals it is possible for humans to perspire blood.
Doctors reported the case of a 21-year-old woman who has a three-year history of spontaneously sweating blood from her face and hands.
Doctors said the bleeding episodes last between one and five minutes. Extensive examinations did not show any lesions or cuts on the patient. Tests also did not show abnormalities in her blood and skin that could be causing the bleeding.
The woman, however, had symptoms of depression, self-isolation and anxiety, and claimed she does not want to be in public out of fear she could have a blood-sweating episode.
The woman appeared to be suffering from an incredibly rare condition. Doctors diagnosed her with hematohidrosis. The disease is characterized by spontaneous production of blood sweat through intact skin.
"Based on the presence of erythrocytes on microscopic examination (excluding disorders that induce "colored sweat" secretion, such as chromhidrosis and pseudochromhidrosis), we diagnosed hematohidrosis," Roberto Maglie and Marzia Caproni, of the University of Florence in Italy, reported.
Product Of Malingering?
Hematohidrosis has been reported for centuries. It is said that Jesus Christ experienced hematohidrosis before he was executed. He was said to have sweated blood while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion. Leonardo da Vinci also reported the case of a soldier who sweated blood before a battle. Doctors, however, have been skeptical about the existence of the condition.
"Hematohidrosis has made brief but increasingly fewer appearances in dermatology texts," Jacalyn Duffin, a medical historian and hematologist at Queen's University wrote in a commentary that accompanied the case report. "Some continue to suggest that it is factitious, or a product of malingering, especially in articles from the early 20th century."
Possible Causes Of Blood-Sweating Episodes
It isn't clear what causes the blood-sweating episodes, but experts have proposed several potential causes, which include systemic diseases and psychogenic disorders, or those believed to arise from mental or emotional stress.
Bleeding as a result of psychogenic disorders may happen as a result of overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system, which is involved in what is often described as the fight or flight response.
"We treated her depression and anxiety disorder with paroxetine and clonazepam, but her bleeding continued," the doctors said.