Woman’s rare medical condition causes her to sweat blood from face and palms

The case has left Canadian experts searching for answers.

health Updated: Oct 24, 2017 12:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sweating blood,hematohidrosis,Health news
The bleeding episodes last from one to five minutes, and can occur while she is asleep and during physical activity.(Canadian Medical Association Journal)

A 21-year-old Italian woman has a rare medical condition that causes her sweat blood from her face and palms, according to a medical paper.

The woman, over the last three years, has periodically experienced bleeding, without any cuts or lesions on her skin. Doctors have diagnosed the uncommon condition as hematohidrosis or ‘blood sweating’.

Doctors say her bleeding episodes last from one to five minutes, and can occur while she is asleep and during physical activity. The bleeding is more intense when she is under emotional stress.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that there is no obvious trigger for the bleeding.

The CMAJ report says the woman has become socially isolated because of the bleeding and developed depression. After tests revealed her blood count and blood-clotting functions were normal, doctors ruled out ‘factitious disorder’ — she was not faking it. She also had no history of psychosis.

Tests showed it was indeed blood on her face, and not ‘coloured sweat’, that can occur in certain conditions. Some people with the condition even cry bloody tears.

“I can say with clarity that I’ve never seen a case like this — ever,” Dr Michelle Sholzberg, co-director of the Hemophilia Comprehensive Care program at St Michael’s Hospital in Canada, told CBC.

Doctors treated her with propranolol, a heart and blood pressure medication, which reduced the bleeding but failed to eliminate it completely, reports The Guardian.

There are several causes proposed to explain the bleeding -- it could either be because of the blood’s ability to clot or a psychogenetic disease, where an extreme or exaggerated emotional response provokes a physical illness, reports CBC.

Hematohidrosis is extremely rare, but it’s not new. Cases date way back to the third century BC, TIME quotes medical historian and hematologist Jacalyn Duffin as saying. The Bible also mentions Jesus sweating blood.

Luke 22:44 states, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Christ on the Mount of Olives By Wolfgang Sauber

The woman’s identity has been kept confidential for the sake of her privacy.

First Published: Oct 24, 2017 12:46 IST