Sweating Blood: The Strange Medical Condition Known As Hematohidrosis

A lot of things are still puzzles for medical professionals and this case of sweating blood is certainly one of them. Already sweat can lead to a number of embarrassing situations like discomfort, unattractive smells and pit stains but sweating blood trumps all of those normal struggles.

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One 21-year old Italian patient was sweating blood for over three years before entering a medical ward for treatment. She bled from her face and her palms without having any cuts and nothing was identified as a trigger for the bleeding. With such an ordeal, it was not so surprising that she had isolated herself and began to develop symptoms consistent with depression and panic attacks.

The Florentine doctors who took her case first observed her and then treated her for the depression and anxiety. They then diagnosed her with “hematohidrosis.”

Hematohidrosis – Sweating Blood

Hematohidrosis is the rare condition of “blood sweat” that to this day puzzles doctors. They do not yet know what causes the condition and due to its rarity, some doctors actually doubt its existence.

According to researchers in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, an analysis of the 21-year old’s skin turned up nothing unusual. Clark’s commentary showed that there is a long history of blood sweat diagnoses, stretching as far back as Aristotle in the third century, B.C., and throughout the Middle Ages.

Sweating Blood

As with almost all puzzling things, sweating blood has religious undertones given its association with a religious relic called the Veil of Veronica, a cloth imprinted with Jesus’ face.

Jacalyn Duffin, the author of the commentary and a medical historian, reviewed 42 medical articles on the condition since 1880. She noted that “Ironically, for an increasingly secular world, the long-standing association of hematohidrosis with religious mystery may make its existence harder to accept.”

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The Florentine doctors decided to treat their patient with a beta blocker (and proposed moral enhancer) called propranolol. It has been used to treat others in the past and it worked in their particular case but did not stop the bleeding completely.